If you weren’t outraged before you certainly have reason to be now — both at Amazon and the press. First, Amazon. They’re now “offering” to anyone on welfare reduced-price “Prime” memberships. Let’s cut this down to size: There is utterly nothing that “Prime” offers that one can today, or should be able to now or in the future, buy with “food stamps” (electronic or not.) Prime’s “pantry” items are all, by definition (sorry folks, truly fresh food that is not laden with sugars and hydrogenated oils doesn’t ship well!) high carb trash. A big part of the reason we have a monstrous obesity epidemic in this country, especially among poor people, is that we stopped handing out literal government cheese (and eggs, meats, etc) as “food assistance” and went first to coupons and then to what are effectively prepaid debit cards. Yes, there are “some” restrictions (e.g. no booze purchases, etc) but if you look at what’s in a typical EBT shopper’s cart you will find things that will both make you fat and diabetic. True “government cheese”, when it was how food assistance was distributed, was both nutritious and did not promote obesity and metabolic dysfunction. Amazon today cannot take an EBT card. But they are lobbying to be allowed to, and if they are permitted to do so that will simply make the obesity and diabetes problem worse among the poor. Unless you support abusing poor people that standing alone is enough to cancel your PRIME membership and tell Amazon to **** off.
Paycheck to Paycheck GUALFIN, ARGENTINA – The Dow was down 118 points on Wednesday. It should have been down a lot more. Of course, markets know more than we do. And maybe this market knows something that makes sense of these high prices. What we see are reasons to sell, not reasons to buy. Nearly half of all American families live ‘paycheck to paycheck,’ say researchers. Without borrowing, 46% couldn’t raise $400 to cover an emergency. This is at least part of the reason why retail sales dropped for the second month in a row in March. Despite seven years of economic ‘recovery,’ millions of Americans don’t have much money. According to Census Bureau figures, 110 million Americans receive benefits from means-tested federal programs – food stamps, disability, and the like. And according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 125 million Americans have full-time work (with another roughly 112 million without jobs). That means there are only 125 million people in full-time jobs supporting the whole kit and caboodle of the U. S. economy, with a total population of 323 million. At that rate, each full-time worker supports about 2.6 people… including almost one person receiving money from the feds. They are also supporting a government debt of $20 trillion and private debt of another $40 trillion or so. That puts the debt-to-full-time-worker ratio at $480,000. The average salary for a full-time worker is just $48,000. At a modest 5% interest, his share of the debt cost would set him back $24,000 each year. He’d have only the remaining $24,000 to support (1) his own family… and (2) all the malingerers, cronies, and zombies who are drawing government benefits. Obviously, those numbers don’t work. But they explain much of the weakness in the U. S. economy. The feds’ cheap credit keeps moving money (mostly in the form of asset price increases) to the wealthiest ZIP codes… while the average person’s budget gets tighter and tighter.
This post was published at Acting-Man on April 21, 2017.
Give Swiss voters credit – well, at least 77 percent of them. In a recent national referendum, they overwhelmingly rejected a proposal that would have guaranteed each Swiss adult a monthly payment of $2,560 from the Swiss government. Just think: the payment was going to be free, just like Social Security, Medicaid, farm subsidies, food stamps, and education grants are free here in the United States. So, why do I say those Swiss voters are smart? After all, what’s smart about rejecting free money, right? They’re smart because they understand that that generous monthly payment wasn’t going to be free after all. In order to make the payments, the government would have to first collect the money from the Swiss citizenry through taxes. So, let’s see: Under the plan a Swiss citizen would get to receive $2,560 in free money, but first he would have to pay $2,560 in monthly taxes so that the Swiss government would have the money to send him the $2,560. In actuality, he’d probably have to pay around $3,000 per month in taxes because the government would have to pay salaries to government bureaucrats and incur other expenses for performing this service. Do you see why I say that those 77 percent of Swiss voters are smart? Of course, an American statist might come back and say, ‘Jacob, it didn’t have to be that way. The Swiss government could have taken all the money from the rich so that the money really would be free for most of the people receiving it.’
We are now in month 83 of this so-called recovery. Yet there are still 45 million people on food stamps – – one out of every seven Americans. The median real household income is still 5% below its level in the fall of 2007. There are still only 71 million full-time, full-pay ‘breadwinner’ jobs in the nation – – nearly 2 million fewer than when Bill Clinton was packing his bags to vacate the White House. At the same time, we have had monetary stimulus like never before. There has been 90 straight months of virtually zero interest rates. The balance sheet of the Fed has been expanded by $3.5 trillion. For point of reference, that is 4X more than all the bond-buying during the entire first 94 years of the Fed’s history. So something doesn’t parse, and that’s to put it charitably. The truth is, the Fed’s entire radical regime of ZIRP and QE constitutes a monumental monetary fraud. It has not ‘stimulated’ a wit the struggling main street economy of flyover America. Instead, it has showered Wall Street speculators with trillions of windfall gains and gifted the bicoastal elites with a false prosperity derived from financial inflation and government expansion.
The food stamp program is one of the largest and fastest-growing welfare entitlements in the federal budget. Total enrollment reached a whopping 48 million in 2013, one of many record highs plaguing the program. Skyrocketing enrollment has led federal spending on food stamps to more than quadruple since 2000, reaching another record-high of nearly $80 billion in 2013. One key cause of this out-of-control spending is the recent explosion of enrollment among able-bodied childless adults. Although federal law requires these adults to work in order to receive food stamps, the Obama administration has awarded an unprecedented number of waivers to states, allowing able bodied childless adults to receive taxpayer-funded food stamp benefits without working at all.
Eating Our Seed Corn: The causes of U. S. economic stagnation, and the way forward By John P. Hussman, Ph. D. Executive Summary The U. S. has become a nation preoccupied with consumption over investment; outsourcing its jobs, hollowing out its middle class, and accumulating increasing debt burdens to do so. U. S. wages and salaries have plunged to the lowest share of GDP in history, while the civilian labor force participation rate has dropped to levels not seen since the 1970′s. Yet consumption as a share of GDP is near a record high. This gap between income and expenses has been financed by debt accumulation, encouraged by the Federal Reserve’s policy of zero interest rates, and enabled by fiscal policies that prioritize income replacement rather than targeted spending and investment. Since December 1999, total civilian employment among individuals 55 years of age and older has increased by 15.3 million jobs. Yet total civilian employment – including those over 55 – has grown by only 13.8 million jobs. This means exactly what you think: outside of workers 55 years of age and older, Americans of working age have 1.5 million fewer jobs today than 15 years ago. There are now more than 46 million Americans on food stamps, with SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) expenditures increasing five-fold since 2000. While transfer payments and entitlements have increased, government consumption and investment as a share of GDP have declined to near the lowest levels in history. In effect, fiscal policy has been heavily biased toward income replacement, but has otherwise been a deer in the headlights in the face of repeated economic crisis. While the contribution of private investment has slowed to a crawl, fiscal policy – except for transfer payments – has actually been in retreat.
The newsspeak is completely out of hand here. The Senate GOP budget released Wednesday calls for saving $5.1 trillion over 10 years, including $4.3 trillion by repealing the Affordable Care Act and curbing entitlement programs such as Medicare, Medicaid and food stamps. But one of the most notable elements of the Senate budget was what it omitted. The plan, the first budget from Senate Republicans since they took control of the chamber, provides few details on how or where Congress would produce those savings from Medicare and other so-called entitlement programs. “Compassionate suicide” anyone? Then there’s Bernie Sanders’ latest, which you read if you’re on his email list: The Senate Budget Committee on Wednesday began to debate a plan drafted by the new Republican majority. The bad news is that they want devastating cuts for working families, children and seniors. They want to throw millions of Americans off health insurance. They would cut aid to college students. As bad as those and other cuts would be, what the Republican budget leaves out may be even worse. It doesn’t create any jobs. It doesn’t address the 11 percent real unemployment rate in the United States. It doesn’t fix crumbling roads and bridges. It doesn’t make college more affordable. It doesn’t raise the minimum wage. It does nothing, despite Republicans’ professed worries about deficits, to close tax loopholes that help the rich and profitable corporations avoid paying their fair share of taxes and make deficits worse.
More than one in seven people. That’s how many people are on food stamps in America these days. More than one in seven people. In fact, the number of recipients of federal food assistance rose a whopping 171% between 2000 and 2011 alone, to an all-time record of more than 47 million Americans across the country now on the food stamp dole. That means more U. S. citizens are receiving food stamp benefits now than in the entire history of the food stamp program ever. One-sixth of the country is now receiving food stamps and the number just continues to climb. Most argue this increase simply has to do with the terrible recession and resultant unemployment; but the food stamp program, now known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP, is yet another crony capitalist scheme (surprise, surprise). Many blame the people who need help instead of pointing the finger at a system designed to get as many people on the dole as possible. The government and the corporations it represents literally advertise to get as many people on food stamps as they can and then keep them there as a captured market for Wall St. banks, mega food corporations that churn out a bunch of crap food, and mega box and grocery stores that sell all that crap. Here are a few more crony facts most people might not realize about our nation’s food stamp program.