George Graham

Horrors! Food Stamps are Being Used to Buy Seafood!

I don’t watch Fox News so I have to take Jon Stewart’s word for it, but apparently the crusading cable network has uncovered a new and menacing abuse of the welfare state. From Stewart’s scathing response to the Fox program, I gather crab legs and fresh salmon are the specific kinds of seafood that offend the network’s pundits.

What is the world coming to? Next, the Obama Administration will relax the rules and let mothers buy diapers with those state-provided coupons.

Imagine the poor having clean babies! I bet Fox would have a fit.

Looked at from the perspective of Fox News and the new American right,  those Reagan-era “Welfare Queens” were outrageous enough. But now look how the situation has escalated. Crab legs indeed! Let them eat cake! Let them eat collard greens! Let them eat hog jowl! Let them eat chitlins!

For Canadian readers, I should explain that food stamps are coupons the government sends to low-income Americans (in Florida  – and probably other states – the coupons have been replaced by electronic cards). From what I hear, they’re not easy to come by. You have to prove you’re in dire straits and even then some hard hearted bureaucrat might turn you down. And there are limits on what you can buy with the coupons. Strict limits. They can’t even be used to buy toilet paper. Or aspirins. Or cough drops.

But, apparently, crab legs are not among the prohibited purchases.

Yes, I know. The Canadian government doesn’t send out food stamps. Like governments in most civilized countries in the 21st century, the Canadian government sends poor people a check. They can buy anything in the world they want with the money.

Wait till Fox hears about that!

Where’s the shame? Where’s the humiliation? Where’s the punishment for being poor?

American conservatives would never stand for such coddling. If they had their way, I bet they would make welfare recipients display some kind of scarlet letter – P for Poor, perhaps. Or W for Welfare.

In fact, I bet they would block government aid altogether – except to the oil companies, agribusiness and other big corporations.

They would like to see the poor begging by the side of the road as they used to in “the good old days.” Or depending on churches and private charities for sustenance.

You can be sure poor folks wouldn’t be eating crab legs then!

Click for Jon Stewart’s show.

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