George Graham

Debunking those Cruel Myths about Food Stamps

You’ve heard the Republican sages explaining why food stamps are so bad. These guys look so concerned while they dispense their wisdom. They don’t want to be mean, of course, but – really – refusing food to starving kids is good for them. Slashing government aid is tough love. The kids (if they survive) will be grateful one day. You see, being deprived of aid will make them grow up to be self-reliant. They will become better people, better citizens. And America will be a better country.

You and I didn’t need scholarly research to recognize this self-serving doctrine for what it is. We know BS when we smell it.

But I’m sure some listeners are taken in. So I welcome the findings of Hilary Hoynes, an economist at the University of California at Berkeley.

As a article by Paul Rosenberg reports today:

Instead of increasing dependency, as conservative critics have repeatedly claimed, Hoynes’ paper showed that, for mothers, food stamp use during pregnancy and early childhood has exactly the opposite impact of what conservatives allege: It actually increases economic self-sufficiency when children grow up, in the next generation.

Why am I not surprised?

Rosenberg’s article concludes that:

Hoynes’ work provides powerful evidence for a three-pronged counterattack against this conservative narrative, which has come to play a dominant role in Republican politics in the post-Bush/Obama/Tea Party era: 1) The safety net works in the short term, producing measurable improvements in newborn health; 2) it works in the long term, improving health for both men and women, and reducing dependency among women in the next generation; and 3) it works currently in much the same manner as it has worked in the past.  The long-term effects findings are clearly the most remarkable, which is why they’re worth looking into more closely.  But it’s the overall combination of evidence — along with the work of others working on other aspects of the safety net — that provides a robust picture of what the real-world safety net actually does to build better lives, pushing back against the onslaught of right-wing lies.

So now you might expect Paul Ryan and the other conservative polemicists to retract their nonsense, right?

Dream on.

I suspect these Simon Legree types already know they’re simply rationalizing their mean-spirited policies with bogus arguments.

Clearly, the main goal of the Republican Party is to channel more and more of the nation’s wealth to their rich supporters. The shameless hacks they run for office will say and do anything to defend policies designed to achieve that goal.

Meanwhile, a powerful propaganda apparatus painstakingly developed by right-wing American billionaires over the past generation uses professionally contrived arguments to promote the interests of the elite. The propagandists mask their false logic with appeals to such visceral emotions as patriotism, fear of foreigners, religious fervor and so on.

It’s a satanic strategy, and it seems to be working.

Unfortunately, the voices of reason are drowned out in the public tumult. I’m afraid Ms. Hoynes and her colleagues are preachng to the converted.

Click for the article.

About the author


I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for