Video of the day

Cool scenes of European landmarks at night in timelapse.  Very, very well done.

Food stamps not for physically fit

One area where we are not really nudging towards healthier food and probably should is the Food Stamps (SNAP) program.   Talbot has a nice section on this in the post I cited in my recent post:

Schwartz and other nutrition advocates would like to see the W.I.C.-style promotion of healthy eating extended to the federal food-stamp program, known as SNAP. But, as Jane Black points out in Slate this week, there the opposition comes not primarily from the Republican right but from the food industry, which sells an awful lot of soda and snacks to people with food stamps—and, more surprisingly, from anti-hunger organizations. A host of mayors, including Bloomberg and Cory Booker, of Newark, have called on Congress to allow limits on the use of food stamps to purchase sugary beverages. A poll conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health showed that sixty-nine per cent of the general public and even fifty-four per cent of SNAPrecipients agreed that such limits were a good idea. But anti-hunger organizations are firmly opposed to any such changes. Black quotes one advocate’s comment to Food Safety News: “Our view is that people have the smarts to purchase their own food, and we’re opposed to all limitations on food choice.”

Anyway, what I really wanted to bring up were the patently ridiculous statements of a Republican Congressman:

At a town hall in Welch, OK on Thursday, Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-OK) called for the outright elimination of aid programs for low-income Americans, claiming that he has witnessed food stamp fraud firsthand. Mullin said he would like to “do away with a lot of these programs” because they allow people to slack off.

“The food programs are designed to take care of people who can’t work, not won’t work. And we all know those people that won’t work, right?” he asked the audience. “They’re abusing the program, and we’ve got to get them off of it.”

Mullin knows for a fact that food stamps are abused, because he saw them being used by people who did not fit his idea of what poor people are supposed to look like:

So I’m in Crystal City and I’m buying my groceries…and I noticed everybody was giving that card. They had these huge baskets, and I realized it was the first of the month. But then I’m looking over, and there’s a couple beside me. This guy was built like a brick house. I mean he had muscles all over him. He was in a little tank top and pair of shorts and really nice Nike shoes. And she was standing there, and she was all in shape and she looked like she had just come from a fitness program. She was in the spandex, and you know, they were both physically fit. And they go up in front of me and they pay with that card. Fraud. Absolute 100% all it is is fraud…it’s all over the place. And there you go, to the fact that we shouldn’t be supporting those who won’t work. They’re spending their money someplace.

And some actual context:

Despite Mullin’s conviction that these people cannot be legitimately needy, solely on the basis that they look “physically fit,” food stamp fraud is down to just 1 percent. If the Congressman has noticed an increase in food stamp users in his local grocery store, evidence points to the nation’s dismal employment rate as the true culprit.

Meanwhile, many of those who receive SNAP benefits (from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or food stamps) work: More than 40 percent of recipients live in a household with earnings. Those who don’t work are likely to be under 18 or over 60. In fact, strict eligibility requirements for the Supplementary Nutrition Assistance Program have disqualified one in four food insecure households for being too high-income, and are allowing at least 50 million people to go hungry.

This not just some crazy state legislator (which are a dime a dozen).  This represents that fabulously ill-informed thinking and world-view of a member of Congress.  It is truly shameful that someone can be this absurdly ignorant about policy yet be in charge of making it.  Welcome to Tea Party America.

I also want to quote Dahlia Lithwick on this (found the link in her FB feed), “if he had seen fat people it would also have been fraud. Its only poverty if you look like Oliver Twist.”

Quick hits

1) Via Yglesias.  An explanation of the physics of teleportation.  Takes so much energy it would never ever work.

2) Love this post from Hans Noel explaining why we rely on a tenure system for college faculty.

3) White people believe our justice system is color blind.  Hint: they’re wrong.

4) Found this article about the affected (i.e., fake and not representing any real accent) accents of pre-WWII movie stars to be absolutely fascinating.  Best example is Katherine Hebpurn.

5) We absolutely do need death panels!  Not exactly, but to treat end-of-life conversations far more seriously as a society and in medicine.

6) Found this Fresh Air interview about a new book on sports and genetics absolutely fascinating.

7) Virginia’s GOP Gubernatorial candidate is obsessed with sodomy.  Seriously.  And it’s legally nuts.

8) Wherever you go around the world, women are much less supportive of drone strikes than are men.

9) Remember the crazy Heritage foundation guy arguing for IQ-based immigration?  He’s back.  And he just doesn’t get it.

10) Why the US is in such poor health.  Totally deserving its own post, but I’m a loser.   This has been languishing in the queue for long enough that I just need to get it out there.

11) I tried to explain the whole Edward Snowden thing to my nephew last night.  I think I did okay.  My dad and sister think’s he’s a traitor.  I’m not sure he’s a hero, but definitely not a traitor.  Ezra makes the case for patriot.

12) The smurfy smurfism of smurfette (the insidious sexism of Smurfette).

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