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Government Medicine The Almighty Buck

Doctors Say Food Stamp Cuts Could Cause Higher Healthcare Costs 1043

Posted by samzenpus
from the unintended-consequences dept.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Lauran Neergaard writes at the Christian Science Monitor that doctors are warning that if Congress cuts food stamps, the federal government could be socked with bigger health bills because over time the poor wind up seeking treatment in doctors' offices or hospitals as a result. 'If you're interested in saving health care costs, the dumbest thing you can do is cut nutrition,' says Dr. Deborah Frank of Boston Medical Center, who founded the Children's HealthWatch pediatric research institute. 'People don't make the hunger-health connection.' Food stamps feed 1 in 7 Americans and cost almost $80 billion a year, twice what it cost five years ago. The doctors' lobbying effort comes as Congress is working on a compromise farm bill that's certain to include food stamp cuts. Republicans want heftier reductions than do Democrats in yet another partisan battle over the government's role in helping poor Americans. Conservatives say the program spiraled out of control as the economy struggled and the costs are not sustainable. However research from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and The Pew Charitable Trusts estimated that a cut of $2 billion a year in food stamps could trigger in an increase of $15 billion in medical costs (PDF) for over the next decade. Other research shows children from food-insecure families are 30 percent more likely to have been hospitalized for a range of illnesses. 'Food is medicine,' says Massachusetts Representative Jim McGovern, who has led the Democrats' defense of the food stamp program. 'Critics focus almost exclusively on how much we spend, and I wish they understood that if we did this better, we could save a lot more money in health care costs.'"
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Doctors Say Food Stamp Cuts Could Cause Higher Healthcare Costs

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  • Math, do it. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mosb1000 (710161) <mosb1000@mac.com> on Sunday January 12, 2014 @07:56PM (#45934651)

    a cut of $2 billion a year in food stamps could trigger in an increase of $15 billion in medical costs for over the next decade

    $2 billion/year x 10 years = $20 billion > $15 billion

  • first whine (Score:5, Insightful)

    by anagama (611277) <obamaisaneocon@nothingchanged.org> on Sunday January 12, 2014 @07:56PM (#45934653) Homepage

    I'm pretty tolerant of articles for slashdot, but this seems really far off subject.

  • Re:Math, do it. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 12, 2014 @08:03PM (#45934679)

    You can't really be sure. It was an increase of 15 billion, but probably per year.

    The average family on food stamps gets a scant 240 per month. A single person will get about 120. It's really regulated (but not as much as WIC) so you can't buy junk food or alcohol. Yes, there's food stamp laundring out there, but with such small amounts, most people really are using them to avoid health issues related to starvation.

  • Re:Math, do it. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by starworks5 (139327) on Sunday January 12, 2014 @08:04PM (#45934685) Homepage

    That is only one of the costs, there may be other costs as well, like productivity losses from the illneess, or generally less productivity from less efficient division of labor.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 12, 2014 @08:06PM (#45934697)

    Growing up, I always thought that the goal of civilisation was to alleviate suffering.

    On economic grounds, it will cost net $500 million more per year (($2B x 10 - $15B) / 10) to keep people in adequate nutrition. By US budget standards, that's pissing in the ocean.

    On humanitarian grounds, there is no question that the money must be allocated.

    If society's job isn't to improve the lot of humanity, it has no purpose. If we look only at ourselves, we are no better than apes.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 12, 2014 @08:06PM (#45934701)

    Your multi-billion dollar business go under? Get a huge bailout from taxpayers.
    Have five kids with four different fathers? Taxpayers will cover your kids' entire upbringing.
    Your bank cause a market crash? Taxpayers are forced to cover your corruption.
    Stopped looking for work for a few years? Here's free food and housing courtesy of taxpayers.

    "Food stamps feed 1 in 7 Americans and cost almost $80 billion a year, twice what it cost five years ago".

    So we've doubled the amount of money we spend on food stamps and we have record numbers of Americans that rely on the government for their food. I wonder which way the vote. When you don't work and get your income from the government (who gets its money from taxpayers) then there is no incentive to look for work. Have some kids, collect some checks, and don't ever look for work. And with all the unemployment and record food stamp usage both parties are now talking about letting millions of illegal immigrants into this country and legalizing the ones that are already here.

    And of course cue the screaming. "Corporate welfare is worse than individual welfare". They are both a major drain on society. And individual welfare is now a record drain. There's no incentive to succeed anymore. There's no incentive for personal responsibility. You can have six kids out of wedlock and be rewarded by the state with free food and housing. This happens on such a massive scale that we lose billions annually creating a system that encourages broken homes, unwanted children, and bastard children with no future as productive citizens.

  • Re:Math, do it. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by the eric conspiracy (20178) on Sunday January 12, 2014 @08:09PM (#45934719)

    Unfortunately the summary does a crappy job of summarizing.

    The $15 billion increase in medical care that was extrapolated is for one disease (diabetes) alone. Presumably there will be others as well.

  • Re:second whine (Score:4, Insightful)

    by TheRealMindChild (743925) on Sunday January 12, 2014 @08:11PM (#45934725) Homepage Journal
    Look. Get off of your moral high horse and look at the fundamental fact that shitty food costs less. You can buy 4 two litre bottles of soda for the cost of a gallon of milk. You can buy 4 boxes of lil debbie snack cakes for the cost of a lb of chicken. You CAN NOT expect people to live on rice and lettuce because "they are poor, so they don't deserve any better food". At this point, who cares what they eat, so long as they can eat. Once everyone is fed, then we will worry about what they eat. Even then, the solution is education, not persecution
  • by hedgemage (934558) on Sunday January 12, 2014 @08:13PM (#45934737)
    I currently get food stamps and they provide the entirety of my food budget. I am well educated and know my way around a kitchen so I can keep myself fit and healthy for well under the $187/month I get. But if I wanted, I could buy candy, coke, and chips and try and live off of that. If you are on food stamps you can NOT simply rely on prepackaged heat and serve meals - you'll either run out of money or not get the nutrition you need. You need to focus on the basics: beans, rice, lentils, fresh fruits and veggies, and only occasionally some raw chicken (forget your love affair with beef, its too expensive). In my view, the problem is with education rather than money. Teach people how to cook and what to cook and they'll be healthy. Barrage them with ads for canned raviolis and Doritos and you'll get people who think that cooking simply involves heating things up. The food stamp program needs to be revised so that you are prohibited from purchasing junk foods just like alcohol or cigarettes can't be bought. In addition to restricting crap foods, allow people to purchase things like vitamins, toothpaste, and toilet paper with their food stamps. Being on food stamps is not fun, but for many people it is not a choice (the elderly or disabled) so lets make the program actually work for the benefit of those who receive the money.
  • Oh, please (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jiro (131519) on Sunday January 12, 2014 @08:18PM (#45934765)

    Almost any political position is believed by its followers to be something that affects people's lives, and thus can be spun as affecting health care costs. It's just as easy to do it for the other side. Just take the standard political argument and tack on "so it affects health care costs". For instance, conservatives say that the costs hurt the economy. Well, in a worse economy, people have more health care problems (for hopefully obvious reasons). So food stamps increase health care costs because although they provide food (reducing health care costs), they also harm the economy by a marginal amount (increasing health care costs). If the latter effect is larger, then food stamps are a health care disaster.

    And it's unlikely that the study which claimed that cutting food stamps increases health care costs by 15 billion took into account the possibility that paying for food stamps hurts the economy and health care costs are larger in a worse economy.

    I can claim that gun control decreases health care costs (because it reduces gun violence and victims of violence use hospitals--this has been claimed for real). I could on the other hand claim that looser gun laws decrease health care costs (because people can use guns to protect themselves from criminals and people hurt by criminals use hospitals). Maybe we need stronger drug laws (stoned people don't take care of themselves very well) or weaker drug laws (the drug war sends people to prison where health is bad and they can't earn a living when they get out since they have an arrest record, making them poor, and so more likely to have high health care costs).

    How about arguing that censoring video games reduces health care costs? (fewer teens will become criminals if you censor games; less crime means fewer people sent to hospitals by criminals). It's all about disguising a political position as a nonpartisan one, not about health care.

  • Re:Math, do it. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by icebike (68054) on Sunday January 12, 2014 @08:20PM (#45934771)

    Yes, there's food stamp laundring out there, but with such small amounts, most people really are using them to avoid health issues related to starvation.

    If we dropped those subsidies that farmers get for keeping farm land out of production, and also drop price supports that keep food prices higher than they would be, you could plow half of that money into food stamps and probably have something line 4x the impact.

    Foodstamps are run out of the Department of Agriculture, who also end up handing out price supports, and land banking payments. The mission of the department is to make sure every American gets fed.

    They need to stop working against their own mission. The whole idea of paying farmers not to farm is wrong headed.

    If the department wants to tinker with farming, they should fund crop development that provides greater variety in the foods American eat. Instead we live one chicken beef, and wheat and potatoes, essentially a mono-diet.

  • by inode_buddha (576844) on Sunday January 12, 2014 @08:21PM (#45934789) Journal

    There isn't any incentive to succeed when corporate America does everything it can to hold your wage down and ignore the fact that you spent your own money on the education that they are taking advantage of.

    And then you have those who legitimately *can't* work due to medical conditions. Not everyone is being a lazy ass. Getting the right wingers to admit this is like pulling teeth tho. I hope to god that someday they are completely unable to care for themselves.

    Has it occurred to you that this country is run by some incredibly cheap bastards? Like real wages adjusted for inflation have been stagnant for decades, *regardless of trying to improve*.

    Try again.

  • No (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mosb1000 (710161) <mosb1000@mac.com> on Sunday January 12, 2014 @08:28PM (#45934821)

    Healthy food costs less than shitty food. Some examples:

    A gallon of water costs less than a gallon of soda.
    A pound of frozen vegetables costs less than a pound candy.
    A pound of chicken costs less than a pound of hamburger.
    A dozen eggs costs less than a dozen candy eggs.
    A pound of potatoes costs less than a pound of potato-chips.

    This is all anecdotal, of course.

  • by sqrt(2) (786011) on Sunday January 12, 2014 @08:30PM (#45934833) Journal

    There will come a time when people who are guilty of nothing more than being born of mere average intelligence will not have any "meaningful" contributions to make to the scaffolding of society. We're already there for a lot of people. What do you propose we do about them? They're going to get their means of survival one way or another. I'd rather it be a peaceful and orderly process instead of violent anarchy. They may not have the technical skills to be computer programmers or engineers, nor the artistic talent to be great painters or composers, but guns, clubs, and jars of gasoline are technologies they'll readily understand and immediately grasp the utility of in their struggle to exist. Denied the opportunity to participate in the future economy by their unexceptional intelligence, they will not simply lay down and resign themselves to starving to death.

  • by O('_')O_Bush (1162487) on Sunday January 12, 2014 @08:31PM (#45934837)
    Uneducated single mothers living in slums with 5+ kids should just get a better job. Advice from a white guy sitting in a suburban home in front of his expensive computer.
  • Re:Math, do it. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by whoever57 (658626) on Sunday January 12, 2014 @08:32PM (#45934843) Journal

    Diabetes isn't a food stamp issue. To a large extent type two diabetes an educational issue.

    Yes, if only poor people ate exclusively at vegetarian restaurants serving low-carb meal there would be no problem. It's not like unhealthy foods are cheaper than healthy foods .... oh wait!

  • Re:Math, do it. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Notabadguy (961343) on Sunday January 12, 2014 @08:35PM (#45934857)

    Not only does our government not have the money to fund all those foodstamps, it doesn't have the funds to absorb the cost of additional health care either.

    Conservatives and Liberals have different spending agendas, but they both want to spend, spend spend. We have no MONEY to spend.

  • by deanklear (2529024) on Sunday January 12, 2014 @08:36PM (#45934863)

    You also need to count:

    1) Lost worker productivity costs to the economy (most of these people have jobs)
    2) Increased welfare costs (these new sick people are the age of parents and caretakers)
    3) Increased long term health care costs (these sick people will not disappear in 10 years)

    The costs of creating a huge underclass has serious economic implications. Ask any teacher and they will tell you that the kids they have trouble teaching are the ones who don't get enough food to eat, and those who don't live in safe neighborhoods. You know, the ones you're too afraid of driving through.

    The fact that there are hungry children in this country should make you feel ashamed about gleefully cutting programs that feed the poor. And you don't even have the math partially right, nor do you seem understand the basic economic facts that operate in all known current economic theory (and common sense): taking care of a population's health (including nutrition) through a public service is much cheaper for societies than only guaranteeing emergency services, unless we start euthanizing the poor in hospital parking lots. That's how two dozen other countries provide 100% coverage for at least half the cost per capita with similar health outcomes.

    These new puppet conservatives do not have common sense or common decency, and further, they lack a prime signifier of adulthood: the ability to put the needs of others above their own wants. Why you would want to support them in their quest to keep tax cuts for people who don't need them while gutting basic services to the next generation of Americans is quite mysterious, unless being a parasite of the aristocratic class is something that appeals to you.

    And let's face it, that's all the Republican party is. As proof of this fact, name one Republican policy that benefits the poor to the detriment of the rich. Just one.

    Christ may have died for the poor, but the GOP fights for the wealthy. It's an odd reality for the party of God, isn't it?

  • Re:second whine (Score:0, Insightful)

    by roman_mir (125474) on Sunday January 12, 2014 @08:36PM (#45934869) Homepage Journal

    Apparently your idea is theft, not freedom. What will it do to everybody's health once the economy is destroyed? I can give an estimate but it really doesn't matter. What will it do to the society when everybody is poor because there is no economy left because the rule of law, the governance process no longer applies?

    Food stamps, welfare state, military industrial complex, none of it is compatible with the rule of law, with good governance, morality or good economics. These are antithesis to each other. People must not be taught to expect theft to have their lives subsidised.

  • Re:Math, do it. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by realityimpaired (1668397) on Sunday January 12, 2014 @08:37PM (#45934877)

    Foodstamps are run out of the Department of Agriculture, who also end up handing out price supports, and land banking payments. The mission of the department is to make sure every American gets fed.

    That's a large part of it. But I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around something that was in the summary: it said that 1 in 7 Americans are on stamps. That's an appalling statistic -- 1 in 7 Americans are poor enough that they wouldn't be able to feed themselves without government assistance?

    While I agree that paying farmers not to actually produce food is ridiculous, plenty of other countries manage to feed their people without needing to resort to a program like that. Food stamps aren't the problem, they're the symptom.

  • by ILongForDarkness (1134931) on Sunday January 12, 2014 @09:10PM (#45935121)

    How about when the girl gets on welfare with one kid you tell her "Here's the pill, here's where you can get condoms. If you get pregnant again you will be dropped from welfare and charged with child endangerment."

    Why should people that are themselves dependents have the right to create more dependents with no consequences?

  • by PlusFiveTroll (754249) on Sunday January 12, 2014 @09:17PM (#45935167) Homepage

    Somekind of wage at all is a great idea. We should re-invent the company store. Ban all labor unions, Dispatch with the EPA and OSHA. Dismiss minimum wages. Fuck, while where at it lets bring back slavery, because you know their masters had to take care of their slaves too.

    Or you could wake the fuck up and read American history from 1850 to current and learn why we have many of the labor and wage laws we do. You have a wonderfully deluded idea that the past was some great and epic time where things where fair and anyone that wanted to work was showered with good wages. It is unfortunate that reality disagrees with you.

  • by mosb1000 (710161) <mosb1000@mac.com> on Sunday January 12, 2014 @09:19PM (#45935187)

    watch how much cash they bring in to buy cigarettes, liquor, or gambling merchandise (lottery/lotto tickets, etc). It's fucking pathetic.

    I agree it's pathetic, but you should really do more than simply blame them for it. These types of behaviors are ways people have of coping with a life situation they aren't happy with. While it would be better for them work to change their life situation to something better, if they were going to do that they probably would have done it by now. The bad thing about food stamps is they encourage this kind of coping over healthier behaviors.

    But if you are going to take the tough love approach and cut off their food stamps, which I agree must be done, you do still need to make sure there's love in that action. If you treat them like you hate or distain them, you are going to push them further down the path they're already on.

  • by Dan East (318230) on Sunday January 12, 2014 @09:19PM (#45935189) Homepage Journal

    The average amount received by those "1 in 7" Americans is only $133. That's not enough to get by on. It's quite obvious that many people simply see SNAP as a viable source of "income", just like hunting for all the deductibles you can to reduce your tax rate.

    Back when I was in high school I worked at a grocery store (to save up for my first computer - I bought a used Amiga 1000 for $700 - ahh the good old days). This was around 20 years ago, back when food stamps were actual paper things just like physical money. They were a MAJOR pain in the butt for cashiers to deal with, because of all the rules involved. They had to be removed from the booklet by the cashier - if they were loose individual "bills" then they weren't to be accepted. Since they were all new, they stuck together like crazy and were slow and annoying to deal with. Since cashiers couldn't give back food stamps as change, you had to give back cash. However, you could only give back up to a very small amount in cash (I'm pretty sure it was less than $5). Thus the shopper had to try and guesstimate, based on the denominations they had, what food to get to come within $5 of the increment they could buy (again, based on what specific denominations they had remaining in their booklets). In other words, it was extremely obvious to everyone around, including all the people in line behind you, that you were using food stamps because of the tedious and slow payment process.

    Part of the reason they were a logistical pain in the butt is because they were intended as a supplement - you're getting $65 in groceries? Slap down a couple food stamp twenties and then pay the rest in cash. However people wouldn't use them that way - most would try and make their entire purchase in food stamps.

    Now, it's just a card you swipe like any other, and I don't guess the cashier even knows you used an EBT card instead of a debit card. So I think since the stigma of using food stamps is now virtually gone (by simple fact that you can use them stealthily), many Americans see them as a perk or entitlement that they need to make use of, again, almost like trying to reduce their income tax by saving receipts for deductibles, etc.

  • Re:Math, do it. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rbrander (73222) on Sunday January 12, 2014 @09:20PM (#45935195) Homepage

    >A portion of the government wants as many people on food stamps as possible, because as soon as you condition a person to free handouts you get power over them.

    I've heard that before - indeed almost exactly the same words - but I don't understand. It's so vague.
    1) Which portion of the government? Are you talking about some federal or state employees, or are you referring to politicians? After that, can you get even more specific and give examples of persons doing this conditioning and then exercising power?

    2) What do these employees or politicians DO with this power over some poor people? Do the government employees make them come over to mow their lawn? It can't be politicians saying "You must vote for me or I'll cut off your food stamps" because we have a secret ballot. The most that could be done is "if you stop putting me in, the Republicans will probably cut off everybody's food stamps, including yours"...but that applies to every public-spending decision. "Vote Republican or those Democrats will raise your taxes" is exactly the same proposition, and seems to be pretty legitimate. You might as well say "if you condition people to tax cuts, that gives you power over them".

    If that sounds sarcastic or something, sorry ... I'm not trying to pick a fight, it's just the whole statement doesn't compute for me. I'll take up the same position if you've got some specific examples or something.

  • by iwbcman (603788) on Sunday January 12, 2014 @09:25PM (#45935233) Homepage

    Uneducated single mothers living in slums with 5+ kids should just get a better job. Advice from a white guy sitting in a suburban home in front of his expensive computer.

    Damn you're good. I believe the niveau of armerican sarcasm/irony has finally reached a new hight(assuming you're american....)

  • Re:second whine (Score:4, Insightful)

    by danheskett (178529) <danheskett AT gmail DOT com> on Sunday January 12, 2014 @09:27PM (#45935241)

    uy with food stamps and one for the stapes that they are allowed.

    That's not fraud. That's allowed.

  • by jedidiah (1196) on Sunday January 12, 2014 @09:31PM (#45935267) Homepage

    > How about when the girl gets on welfare with one kid you tell her "Here's the pill, here's where you can get condoms.

    That's fine in theory. Except for the fact that the people that want to gut Food Stamps also want to destroy sex education and any form of family planning. The openly attack the private organizations that provide birth control pills and condoms to would be welfare mothers.

  • by Jawnn (445279) on Sunday January 12, 2014 @09:39PM (#45935329)

    And let's face it, that's all the Republican party is. As proof of this fact, name one Republican policy that benefits the poor to the detriment of the rich. Just one.

    Christ may have died for the poor, but the GOP fights for the wealthy. It's an odd reality for the party of God, isn't it?

    Not odd at all. It is by design; clever and obscenely cynical, but definitely by design that the GOP has managed to hook voters with meaningless "social issues" and convince them to vote, over and over, against their own (the voters') best interests. That strategy is starting to run out of gas now, as younger voters, who appreciate a woman's right to choose and don't really give a rat's ass about gay marriage, are tilting the balance. Still, this brilliant play has worked extremely well for decades.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 12, 2014 @09:42PM (#45935359)

    How is sex education and family planning going to have any effect? If the financial incentive is still there, then they're going to continue to have kids. Take away the free shit first and then we can tell them what happens 9 months after you stick a penis in a vagina.

  • by Penguinisto (415985) on Sunday January 12, 2014 @09:45PM (#45935387) Journal

    That's fine in theory. Except for the fact that the people that want to gut Food Stamps also want to destroy sex education and any form of family planning.

    To be fair, there's also that not-having-sex-until-marriage part, not to mention promoting fatherhood (as opposed to just being a "baby daddy") but please - feel free to overgeneralize. ;)

  • by Penguinisto (415985) on Sunday January 12, 2014 @09:48PM (#45935401) Journal

    I see you're believing the lie. Good job!

    You know, you might have a point except for one word: Detroit.

    No republican has held any kind of office in that city since the 1950's. The democrats set the policies, and ran the government there. They ballooned the welfare state there to unimaginable proportions. They have no one to blame but themselves.

  • Re:Math, do it. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AK Marc (707885) on Sunday January 12, 2014 @10:00PM (#45935495)

    Welcome to yet another follow on effect of forcing banks to lend money to homeowners who could not in fact afford to pay it back.

    A bank lending to a bad risk is bad for the bank. A bank committing fraud to lie about the risk of the loan when re-selling it, causing a global economic meltdown was the problem. It wasn't until after the meltdown when the foreclosures spiked. When the problem started, defaults were still below "expected" range, and profitable for the banks who made the loans, just not profitable for the fraudulent securities based on them.

    The "subprime" crisis was so named by the rich white bankers to blame poor blacks. They shouldn't own property anyway, just work someone else's fields. The problem was unrelated to "subprime" loans or lending, other than the foreclosure rates were *always* higher than prime lending. So when foreclosures started (first outside subprime areas), they were blamed to shift responsibility and help hide the real cause, especially in racist America.

    Everyone loves to hate on the banks. But they were forced into these stupid loans.

    No, they weren't. They were encouraged to lend, not forced to. A government backed loan isn't a gun to your head, just easy profit. They chose fraud, not the government or the borrowers. Had the banks not committed fraud, none of this would have happened. The stock market cooled down at the end of the tech bubble, so new securities were invented to take the place. They were just bad ones. The sole responsibility of that ponzi scheme fraud lies with the banks.

  • Re:second whine (Score:5, Insightful)

    by NicBenjamin (2124018) on Sunday January 12, 2014 @10:05PM (#45935515)

    I'm not saying the fat guy you watched was right, but OTOH when I was on food stamps my actual job involved burning 4,000 calories a day as a loader at a Home Depot. My food-stamp budget was $117 a month. I had no car. I had no place to store food in my room. This meant the way middle class people save money (ie: making nutritious lunch at home and bringing it to work) was impossible. Therefore was spending $6-$7 every workday on lunch at Wendy's. Which meant the $117 had to buy the other 1,000-1,500 calories a day or I'd fucking die of starvation. That meant pop and candy. With all this I still ended up losing like 40-50 pounds. My teeth are shit, but I'm alive. And if I'd tried to eat like a middle class person I wouldn't be.

    My current situation is somewhat better monetarily, but the things middle class people assume I have when they give me food advice still don't apply. My fridge is about 1.5 cubic feet. This is enough room for a jug of milk and an apple. I do not have a stove. I do not have a car, so food that is at all hard to get (ie: isn't at every single Walmart) will not happen. Since taking multiple grocery bags on the bus is a huge pain in the ass (and my commute alone is already 2 hours on the bus system every single fucking day) multiple grocery trips every month to said Walmart will not happen.

    Being poor the options open to you are simply so different that the strategies a middle class person develops for dealing with the world simply don't apply. Take the simple advice from the eater's manifesto: "Eat food, not too much, mostly plants." Rules 1 and 3 are useless to me because I can't afford 'food,' and I can't store vegetables. You might as well give me three sure-fire rules for blowing up an Imperial Star Destroyer using only a Bat'leth.

    And yes, I'm aware that one of those is Star Wars and the other is Star Trek.

  • Re:Math, do it. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TrollstonButterbeans (2914995) on Sunday January 12, 2014 @10:16PM (#45935599)
    "Obesity is inversely related to income because healthy foods cost more than unhealthy ones."

    I hate this "myth". It is absolutely false and untrue that healthy foods cost more.

    You can go to the store and get eggs, potatoes, chicken, carrots and any canned vegetable and milk very inexpensively.

    What are the unhealthy foods that cost less than these items? Doritoes? No. Cookies? Not Oreos and such.

    My observation is that lower income people generally view food as "an escape" and one of the few creature comforts they have access to.

    Is isn't really the price.

    Studies have shown that overweight people choose to buy foods of convenience (fast food, open and eat packaged food, microwave and eat food) and avoid difficult to prepare foods (ones that require 15-30 minutes of preparation).
  • by ILongForDarkness (1134931) on Sunday January 12, 2014 @10:20PM (#45935621)

    It's not exclusively a poor problem. However, I don't think it is unreasonable that someone that can't afford to take care of themselves be asked to not increase their expenses by their own choice while taking hand outs.

  • by Microlith (54737) on Sunday January 12, 2014 @10:22PM (#45935633)

    there's also that not-having-sex-until-marriage part

    A pointless and moralistic stance.

    not to mention promoting fatherhood (as opposed to just being a "baby daddy")

    Sure, but that's beside the point.

    but please - feel free to overgeneralize. ;)

    Opposition to contraceptives and proper sex education is purely malicious.

  • by faedle (114018) on Sunday January 12, 2014 @10:26PM (#45935663) Homepage Journal

    Let me make sure I understand this.

    Congress is waging war over $2 billion in budget cuts. In a budget that is around $3 trillion. The deficit alone is $680 billion.

    Let's frame this in context. This is arguing over a 2 cent line item on a $300 bill.

    And we wonder why our government is the laughing stock of the free world.

  • Re:Math, do it. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by the eric conspiracy (20178) on Sunday January 12, 2014 @11:01PM (#45935897)

    >Except for the problem that being a single parent is 100% an individual choice for individuals born with their reproductive systems on the inside.

    Except that the same people who are suggesting the cuts in food programs are:

    1. Fighting abortion and birth control education funding.
    2. Fighting mandates that birth control be covered by insurance.
    3. Proposing that abortions in case of rape be illegal.
    4. Passing laws reducing availability of abortion clinics.

  • Re:Math, do it. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by girlintraining (1395911) on Sunday January 12, 2014 @11:18PM (#45935995)

    My point was that without the stamps the money for food would be more strained forcing the individual that was previously on food stamps to shop cheaper.

    There's already been solid science done that poor diet actually causes a person's cognitive abilities to decrease, and reduces impulse control, aggression, etc. It's because high fat diets damage the neuronal sheath. It's speculative whether this is reversible or not, but it's clear that the poor literally cannot help themselves. Once you've been poor for too long, you're physically, biochemically, mentally rendered less capable of helping yourself out of your own situation by a substantial degree.

    "They want to starve. There's plenty of jobs for them. They're just freeloaders... blah blah blah." It's all Conservative USDA-certified Prime Bullshit. The truth is a bit more sobering, and none too flattering: When you have a bunch of people whose brains have been scooped out and they no longer have good judgement or reasoning abilities... they're easy to manipulate and force into slavery. Just feed them endless amounts of cheap entertainment and drugs and you'll find happiness in slavery and destitution.

    Frankly, it's been known since biblical times what poor diet does to people... it's just that we haven't been able to describe exactly how it happens until recently thanks to advancements in medicine. We want the poor to eat badly... because it keeps them poor, and exploitable.

  • Re:Math, do it. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) on Sunday January 12, 2014 @11:33PM (#45936103) Homepage Journal

    Except for the problem that being a single parent is 100% an individual choice

    You do not stop being a parent when your spouse or partner leaves. Which is, you know, not always your choice.

    for individuals born with their reproductive systems on the inside.

    But not for people with external genitalia? Right, they have no choice at all. Their sperm just magically leap out and impregnate passers-by.

    Why would somebody choose to have children they can't afford? Perhaps it's because we have so many entitlement systems

    Look at overall birth rates before and after food stamp programs were enacted. Go ahead. We'll wait.

    that having a child guarantees a middle-class lifestyle

    You actually believe this, don't you? Dear God.

    and perhaps another factor is how much we privilege Mothers.

    "Privilege" and "public assistance" are not really things that have much to do with each other.

  • Re:Math, do it. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by AthanasiusKircher (1333179) on Sunday January 12, 2014 @11:38PM (#45936129)

    Processing food does not make it cheap or cheaper. It always adds cost.

    False. In many cases, processing is used to increase shelf life. Less processed foods often spoil or deteriorate faster. Consumers thus often pay a significant premium for fresh foods, "whole" foods (which often contain spoilage elements removed in processing), and unprocessed foods in general -- since it costs more for stores to keep unprocessed foods in stock (waste due to spoilage) and often more to transport them.

  • by asifyoucare (302582) on Sunday January 12, 2014 @11:44PM (#45936175)
    I also lack sympathy for the parent in this situation, but what you're proposing will damage the child. Are you really OK with letting a child go hungry, even though their parent might be negligent, when the hunger can be fairly easily fixed?
  • by Bengie (1121981) on Monday January 13, 2014 @12:14AM (#45936331)
    What are you going to do, put them in prison which costs $60k/year per person? Not helping costs more than giving them money.
  • Re:Math, do it. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Falconhell (1289630) on Monday January 13, 2014 @12:37AM (#45936455) Journal

    If the US had a liveable minimum wage it would help. In Australia the minimum is around $20 us an hour. That none of you see the stupidity of expecting people to work to earn less than they need to survive is typical of the I've got mine stuff you nature of Americans, or to put it simply selfish bastards.

  • by Aighearach (97333) on Monday January 13, 2014 @12:45AM (#45936493) Homepage

    Not helping costs more than giving them money.

    "Conservatives" don't care about saving money, especially if saving money accidentally helps the poor.

  • Re:Math, do it. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Artifakt (700173) on Monday January 13, 2014 @12:51AM (#45936519)

    A 2 liter of Walmart's own house brand soda?
    2 liters = 4.23 pts, a little more than 1/2 gallon. Current price, observed today, in an actual Walmart: 55 cents US.
    So, YES THE MILK IS MORE EXPENSIVE. People averaging results such as mine have figured out it's more expensive currently by a factor of about 3 and 1/4 to 1. Thank you for playing "I'm so out of touch that I think the average minimum wage worker buys the expensive brands and I'll sieze on that to 'prove' there's no problem." Please look at how much space your own Walmart devotes to their own generic brand and how much to the big name brands on the shelves. If it's 2 to 1 or better, well, there's your quick visual gauge of how bad poverty is in your area. Some stores have ratios above 5 to 1.

  • by sjames (1099) on Monday January 13, 2014 @01:29AM (#45936693) Homepage

    He's saying "why should we the people subsidize Walmart?".

    Let Walmart pay at least what it actually costs to provide labor.

  • by sqrt(2) (786011) on Monday January 13, 2014 @01:41AM (#45936749) Journal

    The end game of these libertarian fantasies is the literal wholesale murder of millions of poor "undesirables", either directly on the small scale and justified as self defense or the defence of property, or enmasse through isolation into ghettos and systematic starvation. It would dwarf the Holocaust in numbers of dead.

    If you start with the premise (itself not unreasonable) that every individual has a right to defend themselves from harm and their property from theft, and you have millions of people with no ability to survive other than the appropriation of resources by force, you're going to end up with a lot of dead humans. And when the tent cities gather enough boldness and enough desperation to march on the proper cities, then you'd have the military and police slaughtering thousands at a time to protect the property rights of the middle and upper classes.

    Horrifying to imagine, but there are some people who would not only be willing to go through this conflagration, but would practically welcome it. Indeed, some are even working in earnest to bring it about. They want to see the streets run red with the blood of the poor. The worst reflection I've ever had on the human condition is that some of them don't just see this nightmare as a horrible means justified by a glorious utopian end--the process itself satisfies some dark urge inside them to cause pain on the largest scale possible. If evil exists, this is it.

  • Re:Math, do it. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by phantomfive (622387) on Monday January 13, 2014 @02:43AM (#45936935) Journal

    But for 99cents you can get a nice big bag of chips.

    Do you understand how much potato you can get for 99cents? And how much oatmeal? For protein, you can get 6 eggs for a dollar, and .75 pounds of turkey legs.

    Obesity is only related to poverty if you don't know how to take care of yourself. Which is an important point, we need to help these people learn to take care of themselves.

  • Re:Math, do it. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by girlintraining (1395911) on Monday January 13, 2014 @05:29AM (#45937503)

    Why would we want that?

    Because we have a soul.

    Here we are talking about a welfare program that costs productive members of society money.

    Yes. Money is clearly more important than things like being humane and decent.

    The poor/dependent classes are just that, poor, dependent and unproductive.

    Therefore we should simply kill them. Afterall, it would improve productivity and enhance cash flow.

    You make it seem like we do it to get benefit from them, when in actual fact we don't get anything from them besides crime.

    Yes. Every poor person is just a cesspool of crime with no redeeming qualities of any kind. All human beings can be judged solely by their bank account balance.

  • by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Monday January 13, 2014 @11:10AM (#45939311) Homepage Journal

    And religion is their solution, because it teaches people about long-held human moral principals like don't have kids out of wedlock, families should stick together, and communities should help each other.

    They talk a big game, but when push comes to shove, let's face facts - most 'Christians' in America ('cuz let's face it, when we say "religion," they're the group we're likely discussing) don't give a fuck about helping the poor. They just don't.

    Most of them spend their hour with Jesus on Sunday (an extra one on Wednesday for the AoG scammers), and the minute they hit the fucking parking lot, they go back to being the same selfish, narcissistic assclowns they are every other day of the week. I get to see the behavior regularly, by virtue of the fact my home is surrounded by churches; I've learned that leaving the house at noon on a Sunday is just not going to happen, because most of those goodly "Christians" would sooner run you into the ditch than let you out of your own fucking driveway.

    You can talk about all the moralistic high-ground as you want, but until that talk translates into actually helping people, you're not accomplishing anything except paying lip-service. To me, that's worse than doing nothing at all.

  • by kilfarsnar (561956) on Monday January 13, 2014 @11:31AM (#45939585)

    But if you are going to take the tough love approach and cut off their food stamps, which I agree must be done, you do still need to make sure there's love in that action. If you treat them like you hate or distain them, you are going to push them further down the path they're already on.

    Excuse me, you're getting in the way of all this righteous indignation we've worked up here. If we can't blame the poor and ignorant for their poverty and ignorance, how can we look down on our fellow man and absolve ourselves of any responsibility to help them?

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