NEWS BLOG (WSAU) You can imagine how people feel about this. You’re waiting in line at the grocery store. Food prices are up. You’ve clipped coupons and are buying more store-brands than to stay within budget. You’ve settled for hamburger instead of steak.
The person in front of you is buying two juicy t-bones. Their cart also had snack food and beer, and they’re getting cigarettes as they check-out. And they have a Forward Card. They’re on food stamps. (As a point of information, they have to pay cash for the booze and cigs. But the point isn’t lost on you that the taxpayer-largess freed up enough money for them to enjoy their vices.)
State Rep Dean Kaufert (R ) wants new limits on what people and can’t buy with their food-stamp dollars. He’s heard complaints that maybe food-stamps are too generous if people who are in the program eat better than those who aren’t. I wouldn’t be happy about it either.
But, limiting the types of food people can buy with food stamps is a fool’s errand.
If someone makes more-expensive food choices, the only consequences are that their food dollars won’t go as far. They still have to eat, and they’ll only have to use more of their own money to make up the difference. And, since they need to meet income requirements to be food stamp recipients, they have less money to spend on food than you do. Assuming they aren’t going to starve, they have lay out hard cash to round out their meals.
None of this negates the underlying facts: the number of people on food stamps is scandalously high, and there are some abuses. But if you’re frustrated by seeing people buy premium-food at the supermarket, imagine how you’ll feel when a food-stamps shopper ties to check-out in front of you and half their purchases are rejected at the register. Get stuck behind them, and watch your anger boil over.