If you were down on your luck, broke, and wondering where your next meal would come from, wouldn’t you be pleased if your neighbors came by with some food? Or would you react with indignation, looking through the groceries they brought to your door with greedy criticism? Bundt cake? I don’t like that! How come you didn’t bring me some DVDs? I know you’ve got money, Todd! Why didn’t you write me a check? Get out of my house, you bastards!
That scenario is so ridiculous that it’s hard to imagine even the most spoiled, sour adult reacting in such a way to charity. But somehow, when liberals complain about putting restrictions on welfare, no one calls it out as being just as ridiculous.
The latest whiner can be found in the pages of the Washington Post. Dana Milbank is aghast at the “humiliation” poor people are being subjected to in states like Kansas and Missouri. It is there that Republicans are trying to prevent people from using their food stamps for purchases that go well beyond anything reasonably covered by the social safety net. And that, says Milbank, is just awful.
In Missouri, House Bill 813 is intended to make it illegal for people to use their food stamps for “cookies, chips, energy drinks, soft drinks, seafood, or steak.” In proposing it, Republican state representative Rick Brattin said he was sick of seeing people use their EBT cards to buy “filet mignon and crab legs.” And even though almost anyone can recall a similar tale of welfare abuse, Milbank reacts as though it’s science fiction.
“This is less about public policy,” he writes, “than about demeaning public-benefit recipients.”
Milbank next takes aim at the Kansas legislature, which just passed a bill of their own limiting welfare cash withdrawals and forbidding recipients from using taxpayer money at places like liquor stores, movie theaters, casinos, theme parks, and so forth. These types of restrictions, he argues, constitute “punitive new conditions on the poor.”
Um, there is nothing in the law preventing these people from going to the liquor store. Nothing preventing them from spending their money in any way they see fit. But that’s the thing…their money. And the money on those EBT cards is not their money. Sorry, but it isn’t. And if they want to buy lobster, tickets to Disney World, and a big tub of popcorn at the local cinema, they are more than welcome to use their money to do so. Just like that ungrateful sap we talked about can spend his money on DVDs and something more appealing than bundt cake.
Of course, that analogy isn’t really fair. After all, that guy’s neighbors can stomp out of his house and take their food right back to their own families. In Kansas, Missouri, and everywhere else, the government puts a gun to your head and tells you to drop the groceries off with a smile on your face.
Democrats have never really evolved past that high-school-president method of campaigning, promising their lazy constituents that under their rule, there will be no homework, no tests, and lots of great snacks in the vending machine. Meanwhile, those of us who grew up a long time ago can only shake our heads and sigh.