Are We Reducing Food Insecurity or Aggravating It?

US Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, Richmond schools Superintendent Dana T. Bedden, and US Rep. Bobby Scott work in the lunch line at Woodville Elementary on March 9, 2015. Photo credit: Richmond Times-Dispatch.

US Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, Richmond schools Superintendent Dana T. Bedden, and US Rep. Bobby Scott work in the lunch line at Woodville Elementary on March 9, 2015. Photo credit: Richmond Times-Dispatch.

by James A. Bacon

The federal government has awarded Virginia an $8.8 million grant, to support a program in the City of Richmond and seven localities in Southwest Virginia to fight child hunger. Elaborates the Times-Dispatch:

The children will receive a third meal before leaving school every day, and they will also participate in an off-hours program aimed at making sure they get healthy good when they’re not in school.

In Richmond, where 80% of school children qualify for free or reduced lunch, the program will aid some of the poorest students, stated Superintendent Dana T. Bedden.

Let us grant that child hunger is a real phenomenon and a serious one. No one wants children to go hungry, not even mean, heartless conservatives like myself. But I’ve got a lot of questions, starting with, what the hell is going on?

As I’ve noted before, the United States dispenses billions of dollars of food stamps every month. Every family who needs food stamps gets them. The families of the poor, hungry children targeted by this program get food stamps. Now, I can buy the argument that food stamps are a minimal form of food support and that it’s darn hard to feed a family on food stamps alone. But let’s say you have a mother and three children, who receive benefits based on a family of four who collectively consume 84 meals a week. Now let’s say three of those children are getting free lunches and breakfasts at schools (30 meals a week). Are we saying that the food stamps are such a pittance, and that the free food provided by churches and food pantries are so inadequate, that the mother can’t feed herself and her children for the other 51 meals a week?

This just doesn’t add up. Something is going on that the care giving class does not appreciate or understand.

Are the benefits of food stamps stretched thin, perhaps, because female heads of household are living with boyfriends contribute little to the family pot yet must be fed?

Do poor parents change their behavior based on the rational expectation that, if they don’t feed their children, they know the state or philanthropic organizations will step in?

Is the problem not poverty, per se, but the fact that mothers are strung out on drugs or otherwise so consumed with their own disordered lives that they can’t get it together to prepare meals for their children?

I don’t know the answer. All I know is that the more food we dispense, the worse food insecurity seems to get. And the only solution that anyone can think of is to shovel more money and more free food at the poor. I worry that we are enabling the very behavior that causes child hunger in the first place.

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57 responses to “Are We Reducing Food Insecurity or Aggravating It?

  1. re: ” Are the benefits of food stamps stretched thin, perhaps, because female heads of household are living with boyfriends contribute little to the family pot yet must be fed?

    Do poor parents change their behavior based on the rational expectation that, if they don’t feed their children, they know the state or philanthropic organizations will step in?

    Is the problem not poverty, per se, but the fact that mothers are strung out on drugs or otherwise so consumed with their own disordered lives that they can’t get it together to prepare meals for their children?”

    I guess you missed this part:

    “Students at some Richmond schools and in seven localities in the southwestern part of the state will have expanded, year-round access to food as part of a new $8.8 million federal grant Virginia has been awarded.”

    so a question – would you use the same language to raise questions about parents in southwestern Va?

    do you think the folks in SW Va have shiftless boyfriends and mom is strung out on drugs and are so disordered and dysfunctional they can’t provide for their own children’s needs?

    Would you have an interest in revising your statement so it would apply equally to folks in Richmond AND SW Virginia or do you believe that your words are appropriate for both areas – and demographics?

    by the way – I harbor the same awful thoughts about folks who have kids and lack the means or motivation to care properly for them. It’s an unfortunate aspect of both urban and rural areas.

    but let’s presume the worst – that there are a heap of bad parents who are irresponsible about their kids needs and, their future.

    How would you try to fix it?

    Clearly – the Govt approach is to get these kids fed and get them better educated so they might grow up to be not like their badly-educated parents but instead employed taxpayers who do not need entitlements and bring their kids up better?

    so .. what’s the alternative .. to the govt approach ? ……. seriously…
    what would you do if you were king?

  2. “Would you use the same language to raise questions about parents in southwestern Va?”

    Yes, absolutely.

    What you’re implicitly doing here is accusing me of engaging in racist stereotypes, as if the problems of social breakdown are exclusively an African-American problem. Of course, they are not. Social breakdown is endemic among poor Americans of whatever race or ethnicity.

  3. well I guess I’m wondering if your words “fit” the rural poor, many of whom are white and as far as I know – have problems of shiftless boy friends and strung out dope usage…

    I guess I’d not use those descriptions myself – not for the rural or inner city because it does sound a bit racist and I think the problem happens irrespective of race and geography – a bad education, an inability to find work, and the belief that everyone should have a “family” without much of a thought about how to pay for their needs… or perhaps just expect the govt
    to.

    so I did ask what you’d do if you were King – without a racist heart.

    got an answer?

    • I don’t know how to fix the problem of food insecurity. But the first step is understanding the nature of the problem. If we keep on doing the same thing that doesn’t work, only more of it, we won’t fix the problem — we might actually make it worse.

      • that’s a start – but I don’t think you can hold such strong opinions and not offer an alternative since you are essentially arguing against the current method.

        opposition without alternatives and then claiming you don’t know enough…

        well.. it’s like you donj’t know how to fix it but you know what you don’t like.

        and that’s a problem these days with a lot of folks.. just stop what you don’t like then walk away.. not good

  4. Lordy, lordy, we are heating this necessary discussion up again—as I was thinking about the issues of “charity” and Do-Gooders in general.
    “Do-Gooders” are folks who, literally do good, from their hearts, not ordered to do so by their government.-It is called “charity”.

    The Russian word for “doing good” is dobrodelyie”.
    A word that disappeared for decades under the Communist rule of Russia. Except in the context of “Volunteers” for the good of the Socialist State
    “Charitable giving was considered a moral duty in Tsarist Russia, but disappeared from sight after the Soviets came to power and seized control of the nation’s wealth. After confiscating the property of the super rich, the authorities branded philanthropists as bourgeois do-gooders with no place in a utopian socialist state.
    In the new post-Soviet Russia the gap between rich and poor has reasserted itself reigniting simmering class hatred. Since coming to power in 2000, Vladimir Putin has put pressure on Russian corporations and on the super rich to put their money to the good of the nation’s development.
    http://blogs.ft.com/beyond-brics/2013/11/14/russia-the-rich-start-to-give-a-little/
    I believe all hungry children must be fed.
    However, to mitigate paper burden issues to deal with USDA requirements- and feed ALL children 3 meals a day off times+ summer, etc. is treading on shaky territory. (See the video accompanying the article).

    • “Lordy, lordy, we are heating this necessary discussion up again—as I was thinking about the issues of “charity” and Do-Gooders in general.
      “Do-Gooders” are folks who, literally do good, from their hearts, not ordered to do so by their government.-It is called “charity”.”

      sometimes. sometimes, it’s people who believe the govt should be doing it and they suggest it. right?

      “The Russian word for “doing good” is dobrodelyie”. ”

      isn’t that basically a version of “let them eat cake”?

      In the new post-Soviet Russia the gap between rich and poor has reasserted itself reigniting simmering class hatred. Since coming to power in 2000, Vladimir Putin has put pressure on Russian corporations and on the super rich to put their money to the good of the nation’s development.”

      how is that much different than a typical 3rd world approach?

      I read the blog, did not see a video and not sure of your point. be concise.

      “I believe all hungry children must be fed.

      that’s better than Bacon – his comment so far is a Sargent Schultz “I know nothing”.

      your statement without how is a platitude at best.

      if you say you believe in something – and you don’t like the current approach and stop there .. what are you advocating?

    • It’s the same conundrum we’ve debated as long as civilization has been around to consider it: is there a point at which we have a moral obligation to alleviate suffering even though it plainly can be, and often is, taken-advantage-of?

      The children need the nourishment. Should we deny it to them in the HOPE that the parent(s) won’t spend their supper money on other things but feed their children? Yes that’s what we expect of people generally; but that won’t feed these children. Of course there’s a place for charity, or noblesse-oblige or whatever you call it in Russian.

      But Jim throws down a challenge, “If we keep on doing the same thing that doesn’t work, only more of it, we won’t fix the problem — we might actually make it worse.”

      I’d like to hear less ranting and more discussion of THAT issue. Does giving a free breakfast, lunch and supper to these kids all through their elementary years, or beyond, save society tax dollars in the long run? I don’t know of any respectable statistics on the subject. “Do poor parents change their behavior based on the rational expectation that, if they don’t feed their children, they know the state or philanthropic organizations will step in?” Well of course some of them will; but what about the health and education cost to all of us of nutritionally-deficient children? Which is greater?

      I suspect the long term cost of deficient children is greater. What do we know about this?

      • I totally discount the “moral obligation”.

        I ask – if we are prepared for the financial consequences of not having the programs for kids who grow up to become uneducated and unemployable.

        Is there a fiscally responsible aspect to this?

        see we seem to hate, even resent paying entitlements but we are in denial about the costs of not doing it.

        we have more people in prison (as a percent of our population) than any other country in the world – already.

        do you want more prisons or just vast areas and regions that resemble 3rd world conditions where we use police to keep them contained?

        I just want to hear what folks really want – my choice is to spend the money for the kids even though we should not have to – but we have little choice when the parents are irresponsible.

        if we are not going to do that – then what is our plan for when they grow up uneducated and unemployable?

        no one said this was easy.. but it is the reality – and we really do have to make real choices and not be in denial.

      • Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:

        http://www.nokidhungry.org/sites/default/files/child-economy-study.pdf

    • What’s the Russian word for “non sequitur?”

  5. Elena Siddall – every kid that grows up uneducated becomes a financial burden on you.

    how would you resolve that ?

    is your response to basically do away with all entitlements and urge society to be generous in their charity – and let the chips fall where they may?

    that’s the part I do not understand.

    I see this as a proposition where we pay up-front to head off larger expenses later on – a lifetime of entitlements, incarceration and more kids like them. You and Jim see it as money not well spent , ineffective and and a losing cause but you stop short of advocating getting rid of all the entitlements or even some of them.. you just argue that they are not working.

    so what is your recommendation? would you admit what you’d do instead?

  6. This is hardly a discussion- rather a larryg rant about his “caring” about something or other.But he seems to KNOW and “care” about everything…
    Not worth continuing.
    larryg- go to the RTD article today to get the video, not about Tsarist charity, but about the consideration of feeding ALL children on the USDA program-3 meals per day + off times.
    How is this coordinated with all the other feeding programs +SNAP,WIC, etc.?

    • This is hardly a discussion- rather a larryg rant about his “caring” about something or other.”

      what rant?
      “But he seems to KNOW and “care” about everything…”
      I have an opinion and am willing to defend it and you?

      “larryg- go to the RTD article today to get the video, not about Tsarist charity, but about the consideration of feeding ALL children on the USDA program-3 meals per day + off times.”

      again – what IS your POINT? what exactly am I looking for in the video?

      “How is this coordinated with all the other feeding programs +SNAP,WIC, etc.?”

      this is your question that prevents you from providing your view of how these things should be done?

      what does that one question prevent you from offering your own perspective?

      If you had actually gone to a food bank /food pantry -you may have learned
      that the USDA does require that recipients appear on the social services rolls.

      I too have the same concerns – I think that ALL of these things should be coordinated and I have asked the same questions about, for instance, free and reduced at schools – which I am told is also verified with social services.

      but these things are not central to the policy issue. One would presume that ANY entitlement program would require verification of qualification.

      the bigger issue is what policy.

      again – you and Jim seem to me to run right up to the edge of opposing entitlements as a general rule but then you stop short of actually saying
      and sticking instead to the idea that the current system is not working – that we continue to have the poor no matter what programs we provide.

      I just don’t see how you get free from that position but I also think if that IS your position then you should forthrightly admit it …

      this is not a rant.. it’s a simple discussion of the issue but yes – it does get to the nub of it.

      I don’t like the idea of having to feed, clothe and educate kids that parents have failed to do. I think it’s fundamentally irresponsible just as I do with a lot of other behaviors that put burdens on others.

      but I feel we have no choice but to intervene unless we want to see things get much worse – and pockets ts of real 3rd world conditions in our cities and rural areas. Is that really acceptable to most of us? I simply don’t think it is – so we must make difficult and very unsatisfying choices to try to make headway and I assert that we HAVE seen SOME progress but our failures are
      are also obvious. We continue to have really, really bad neighborhood schools and we continue to have adults with such poor educations that they face a lifetime of poverty and hopelessness and really, ignorance – not even knowing how to help their own kids.

      some of us want to throw our hands up and let the poor descend into 3rd world conditions. I understand that. Sometimes I feel that way myself.

    • LarryG cares about all needy Americans so long as he can find a way for somebody other than him to pay for all that caring.

      • actually not. I actually do believe in the more cost-effective way to deal with the issue because we all pay for it and only the truly ignorant think we can come up with a way not to pay for it.

        this is a game of picking the least worst choices with the best being the one that is most cost effective.

        this is like pretending that if we don’t provide health care to folks that they’ll not being using the ERs or the comically-named “charity care” which basically means the folks who do have insurance, pay for $10 aspirins and the less insightful want to blame it on the hospital.

        If we did not believe in the potential of cost-effective solutions – we’d get rid of K-12 public school which I realize is also one of the wet dreams of the ignorati right.

  7. One of the most memorable lines from Econ 101 decades ago — “whatever the government subsidizes, you get more of.” I have never seen the rule to fail, whether the subsidy is for home ownership, charitable donations, or — in this case — hunger.

    Of course my econ prof had been a student at U Chicago….so clearly a sicko conservative of the first order.

    • I think there’s a general truth to it but it’s not always a one to one relationship because the subsidy is usually not so open-ended that the more you use – the more you get.

      subsidized flood insurance, for instance, is restricted and capped and has strings.

      same with mortgage interest and charity deductions.

      You have to qualify for USDA or free/reduced lunch and even after you qualify you don’t get all you want.

      energy and education tax credits -even earned income are all capped and means-tested.

      so when I see them cutting back on middle class subsidies – maybe the same approach should be taken with other entitlements but cutting the ones to the poor on that “subsidy” premise and not cutting others – like Medicare seems not quite virtuous.

      but again – I’ll ask the same question.

      It’s easy to take the position that the current welfare system is bollixed and you’ll get no strong disagreement from me.

      but I do ask – what would one do instead – because that’s where the metal meets the pedal.

      wanna get rid of them all together? if one really believes that -they should say so… we can have honest disagreements and still respect each others positions. I just simply think it’s penny wise and pound foolish not to try to do something about poverty at the kid level. They do grow up and at that point -you’re back to the same argument of what to do about them if they don’t have an viable education and are not employable – and then they have their own kids and the cycle continues.

      there are no easy answers and some of us might thing the whole entitlement mindset is fundamentally wrong. BUt if you really think that – then please do explain what you’d do instead. This tactic of coming up to the edge and then stopping doesn’t move us forward. We just end up with opponents and no alternatives.. i.e. gridlock.

      all of us should be willing to state our positions and defend them or not even defend them but be honest about what those positions are.

      You know the “liberals” want to put these kids into head start as soon as possible – to get them into the hands of someone who will truly nurture them and read to them and imbue in them a love of learning and an expectation that they can learn and succeed … parent surrogates.. if you will -but conservatives typically are opposed to this .. because of money and an attitude that we should not have to be paying extra for these kids.

      I’m NOT going to say “it takes a village” – nope. But I do ask if not that – what, instead?

      we can be like many 3rd world countries where such kids are doomed their whole lives from the moment of birth … I only ask that we admit that’s what we really want.

      go ahead and gripe and grouse and complain about the “takers”, get it all out but at the end – also say what you want to do about it.

    • re: Econ 101

      I’ve enjoyed the same class but it took a few years to realize that econ theory usually deals with one supply/demand variable and all others are held constant.

      so then you get the essence of the supply/demand relationship.

      but it’s not the reality.

      if you raise the minimum wage – it’s not a reduction in employment except in theory.

      If the only option people had was to stop buying fast food – then the relationship might hold but people have dozens and hundreds of compensating actions – the same options they have if their cell phone bill goes up… they don’t get rid of the cell phone or even cut back necessarily.

      they may stop buying Starbuck Lattes instead or other ways to economize.

      so the problem with Econ 101 is the same problem we have with other things in our world – i.e. we’re all wanting simplistic calculations to make choices about. The black and the white.

      but as anyone knows – if you did something really simple – like try to understand your health insurance – you’d find yourself driven to distraction much less being able to map out a different path.

      People who have “insurance” during a big storm – always think they are “covered” and real money is involved – and invariably they did not take the time to really understand the 20 pages of fine print.

      that’s the way that real economics work – not Econ 101.

  8. Ohhhhhhhhhh, let’s do this.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kYWcV2DIIHU

    “As I’ve noted before, the United States dispenses billions of dollars of food stamps every month.”

    Whoa, billions, that sounds like a lot. Nevermind that according to the USDA the average per person benefit per month as of 2014 was $125.35 or that the average per household benefit was $256.98, we’re spending billions! Probably on steaks and lobster!

    “Every family who needs food stamps gets them. The families of the poor, hungry children targeted by this program get food stamps. ”

    No. Every family who is at the poverty threshold and has the proper documentation and understanding of how to apply gets food stamps. There is more to the poor than just poverty. Especially when food prices rose 1.4 percent in 2013, 2.4 percent in 2014 and is predicted to rise between 2 and 3 percent again in 2015 according to the USDA.

    “But let’s say you have a mother and three children, who receive benefits based on a family of four…”

    Let’s say that, and I’ll even allow that they’re getting the maximum allotment provided of $649 a month.

    “Are we saying that the food stamps are such a pittance, and that the free food provided by churches and food pantries are so inadequate, that the mother can’t feed herself and her children for the other 51 meals a week”

    Let’s see, 51 meals a week times four weeks is 204 and $649/204 is exactly $3.18 available for each meal from food stamps. What’s the price of a pound of chicken ($2.69) or a gallon of milk ($3.67) or a pound of dried black beans ($1.47) or a 40 oz. tub of Great Value brand peanut butter ($4.47)? None of this takes into account the cost of the tools needed to prepare food at home such as ovens, bowls, microwaves, pans, pots, etc.

    Looking through the Feedmore financials they distribute about two meals a week to the people they reach through their Food Distribution Center (assuming this reaches all of the 206,700 food insecure citizens of Central Virginia). Now we’re up to a whooping $3.31 available for each meal coming from food stamps. Let’s throw a party.

    “Are the benefits of food stamps stretched thin, perhaps, because female heads of household are living with boyfriends contribute little to the family pot yet must be fed?”

    Wow, you have no way of measuring this but you raise the specter of the shiftless boyfriend anyway. I’m not sure how many women you know, but of the ones I know exactly 0 would allow a boyfriend who was contributing nothing to the household eat for free while their kids went hungry. That’s not how human beings are wired. We’re wired to protect and preserve our offspring – look into the Price equation and what it says about altruism.

    “Do poor parents change their behavior based on the rational expectation that, if they don’t feed their children, they know the state or philanthropic organizations will step in?”

    Yes, poor parents stop feeding their kids because CPS/DSS would never investigate them , take their children and throw those children in the foster care system. Or, wait, that’s exactly what would happen.

    “Is the problem not poverty, per se, but the fact that mothers are strung out on drugs or otherwise so consumed with their own disordered lives that they can’t get it together to prepare meals for their children?”

    In states that instituted drug tests for those receiving welfare benefits they’ve found less than 4 percent of the recipients testing positive versus the 8 percent of drug use found in the general population. It’s almost like drugs cost money and poor people don’t have money.

    As to the otherwise so consumed (something else that is, conveniently, hard to measure) – who does that not apply to? Are better off people less neurotic or do they just have access to resources that help ameliorate the effects of those problems and provide buffers that help them navigate times of need?

    “All I know is that the more food we dispense, the worse food insecurity seems to get.”

    Or you don’t understand cause and effect and you’re misinterpreting that as more people need food assistance, more is done about it, more aid is given out and more discussions are had about it making it seem like helping the problem is causing more of the problem. But helping hungry people eat no more causes an increase in hungry people than vaccines have caused autism in children.

    • just reading about student loan subsidies. The average for DC is 40K and the average for Va is 25K.

      Good Lord!

      glad to know we’re not subsidizing shiftless college folk….

    • LOFL …

      I applaud you for using facts and figures instead of hyperbole. However, I am struggling to follow your math …

      “Let’s see, 51 meals a week times four weeks is 204 and $649/204 is exactly $3.18 available for each meal from food stamps. What’s the price of a pound of chicken ($2.69) or a gallon of milk ($3.67) or a pound of dried black beans ($1.47) or a 40 oz. tub of Great Value brand peanut butter ($4.47)? None of this takes into account the cost of the tools needed to prepare food at home such as ovens, bowls, microwaves, pans, pots, etc.”

      That statement follows this statement …

      “Let’s say that, and I’ll even allow that they’re getting the maximum allotment provided of $649 a month.”

      How do you get to 51 meals a week? Breakfast, lunch and dinner for a family of 4 is 12 meals a day. 7 days a week at 12 meals a day is 84 meals a week, no? Four weeks in a month at 84 meals a week is 336 meals a month.

      I realize that my math strengthens your argument more than than your math. I’ll counter your argument once I understand the math. For example, the question of cost per meal should not be cost / person / meal. A family of four eats three meals per day, 30 days per month or 90 meals per month. The subsidy for each meal is $649 / 90 = $7.21 per meal. Can you figure a way to make breakfast, lunch and dinner for four at an average cost of $7.21 per meal? Maybe. Maybe not. However, that is more the question than comparing the per person per meal cost to a pound of chicken or a gallon of milk.

      Yet the bigger question is why obesity varies inversely with income – especially for women in the US. Your theory is that poor people don’t get enough money to buy food from “food stamps”. However, poor women tend to be notably more likely to be obese than wealthier women. How does that work?

      http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2013/11/the-messy-messy-relationship-between-income-and-race-and-obesity/281434/

      I personally get the feeling that “food insecurity” falls into the same category as “campus rape culture” – a liberal theory divorced from reality. Yes, rape is a vicious crime and the perpetrators should be prosecuted and put in jail. But the DoJ’s own statistics indicate that a woman is more likely to be raped off campus than on campus. Yes, children should be fed. But the statistics indicate that obesity is more common among poor women than rich women so how does that lead us to conclude that there is too little money for food?

      • so you’d starve the others to make sure the obese don’t get more than they need?

        sounds like another nitwit idea from the wack job party.

      • “How do you get to 51 meals a week?”

        Bacon’s original post.

        “However, that is more the question than comparing the per person per meal cost to a pound of chicken or a gallon of milk.”

        Perhaps, but if the constituents of a meal cost more than is available for the meal then the price available for the meal is irrelevant.

        “How does that work?”

        http://frac.org/initiatives/hunger-and-obesity/why-are-low-income-and-food-insecure-people-vulnerable-to-obesity/

        “But the statistics indicate that obesity is more common among poor women than rich women…”

        Do food stamps only go to feed poor women?

        “…so how does that lead us to conclude that there is too little money for food?”

        Well, since calories != nutrition and cheap, calorie dense food is cheaper and more readily available in impoverished communities it’s possible for people to have too many calories and still be malnourished. And, again, food stamps go to groups other than just poor women.

        I’d also like to move away from the hypothetical “family of four making $0 a month and getting the full allotment of food stamp money” back to the fact that the average food stamp recipient is living in poverty and receiving food aid of $125.35 a month or $31.34 a week. Have fun feeding yourself on that.

        • you could do that probably by buying dried beans and fat back I suspect.

        • assistance steadily went up during the recession as more and more people were affected by it – not only the unemployed but also the under-employed – people who work but do not earn enough to pay all their bills and if food stamps and food pantries are available the poor do triage by paying for their shelter and trying to find free or reduced food because without a place to live -you end up on the street …

          and I know this will greatly upset Jim Bacon and El Sidd but in Spotsylvania County we have last time I checked a number of families whose kids get picked up for school at the homeless shelter.

          that’s what happens when people lose their jobs and can’t get another – and they have kids – and that’s the target of a lot of the assistance – the kids.

          that’s why the free and reduce program began – at the schools – in the first place.

          Jim keeps slipping back in his perspective to inner city – at least some of his words seem to be aligned in that way.

          In our homeless shelter – if you have a drug or alcohol program – you can’t stay there. We have some of those folks also – and they live in various places in the area – usually under bridges… or in wooded areas near the interstate ramps – on land VDOT owns so is never developed.

          I’m not relating this as some sort of bleeding heart liberal sob story – just the simple facts that these folks – they do exist and some are chronically unemployed because of their own bad behaviors having gotten caught stealing at a prior employer and/or charged with that behavior legally which pretty much destroys their chance at working again if the employer looks at their employment history.

          the problem is the kids get caught up in this. The kids did nothing wrong. They are perfectly capable of learning if they have access to food and quality instruction tailored to their disadvantageous circumstances.

          there is no moral imperative here – it’s a simple calculation of what happens to kids who don’t get educated and their parents are often a prime example.

          what do we do – what can we do – what should we do – to train these kids to grow up and be employable? So I switched from saying “educate” to “train” to denote the fact that the word “education” sounds a like a “nice to have” type thing whereas “train” is a must have if you want an employment outcome – which is then a taxpayer outcome – and perhaps no need for entitlements – outcome.

  9. Nobody, liberal or conservative, appreciates paying for entitlements, but it is useless to indulge in the idea that we could eliminate them, or even reduce them to the point of austerity. The sober fact is that no economic philosophy tolerates slackers well. In communism/socialism as well as our socialistic/capitalism they take more than they put in. In a Darwinian form of Capitalism they would be forced to thrive or die, but a manipulation of our system to become more Darwinian would lead to a massive outbreak of violence from the groups dependent upon them. A cessation of resources for these groups coupled with a militaristic response to the violence would be akin to genocide. As such, it is not a productive act to criticize the status quo without endorsing real-world alternatives; however, this behavior seems to be en vogue among conservatives.

    • True, we don’t want to provoke a revolution. On the other hand, we need to understand the impact of the policies that we have put into place. If those policies are counter-productive, we need to know that. Pursuing counter-productive strategies could grow the under-class and lead to the same anarchy and disorder that you fear.

    • “food insecurity” is hardly status quo. It is a new liberal buzzword designed to justify bigger government and higher taxes. If people really didn’t have enough money to eat then they would be thin. They might even starve. That would be horrible. However, the statistics – especially for women – indicate an inverse relationship between wealth and obesity. In other words, poor women in the US are more likely to be obese than rich women. Whether secure or not – obesity does not indicate a lack of food.

      Before I accept the idea of “food insecurity” as gospel I am going to have to hear some realistic facts and figures.

      • actually I think “food insecurity” SOUNDS like some sort of cockamamie idea to start with then if you look at some of the groups that latch on to the idea – they are “liberal” but they are also “do gooders” from the non-left world also.

        there are honest questions about what food insecurity looks like in the USA and what it looks like in -say – Nigeria where the term really means what it says and children do die from a lack of food .. applying that same term to a country where virtually anyone no matter their economic station in life can find something to eat .. well… I dunno. it seems to disrespect the original meaning of the word.

  10. There is so much to say here and a good bit has been said already, but in reference to DonR’s link to the Atlantic story (from 2013) about the relationship between poverty and obesity–it’s not that complicated. It’s less expensive to buy a full meal at McDonalds than a grocery cart’s worth of fresh produce, or a broiler chicken. You can fill up off the $1 value menu or spend the same $3 on a bunch of kale. Receiving food stamps and being obese may be correlated, but one does not cause the other. Both are symptoms of poverty.

    Along similar lines, I think Jim is mistaken to suggest that food insecurity gets worse as more assistance is given. That again suggests causality when there may be none and also claims that MORE assistance is being given. Rather, food stamp benefits have been cut http://www.msnbc.com/msnbc/obama-signs-food-stamp-cut

  11. let me add another note.

    I do volunteer taxes at this time of year Our target demographic ( dictated by the IRS) is low income and elderly.

    We do taxes for folks that work 40-60 hours a week and they’re lucky to make 15K. At 15K they do not qualify for MedicAid – if they have kids they might These folks all have cell phones and often multiple missing teeth – it’s a perverse consequence of the economics of modern society.

    the ones with kids show up so they can get the earned income credit but others come because they know they need to do their taxes and they escape the health care personal responsibility payment because they are in a state without the MedicAid Expansion . those folks rely on the Moss Free Clinic and the ER for their health care.

    on the other end of the scale – we see elderly who would be just as poor if it were not for Medicare that essentially preserves their incomes so they can have a place to live and food. Even these folks are on the edge of disaster if they get seriously sick and go into a long term care situation – which Medicare does not fully cover – and a long term care facility can run $300 a day – yes you heard that right.

    so think about that. think if you or your spouse ended up needing to go into a long-term care facility that cost $10,000 a month, more than 100K a year – how long your savings would last once Medicare stopped paying?

    none of us ever think about end of life or the costs of it – we just rely on
    the govt to not let us go broke when it happens if we don’t go quickly.

    some truth to the canard of – if you are going to die – die quickly.

    how middle class do you feel you are – given the possibility of being unfortunate enough to get seriously sick and the financial consequences of that?

    so we sorta cluck our tongues about the poor and food while we have our own Achilles heels on health care costs. The poor have no such quandaries – at the end – they have no assets to lose so they take what the govt and the hospital gives them and that’s it.

    do you know what happens to middle-class folks who do not have long term care insurance and go into long term care ? they lose most if not all of their savings and their house – at some point if they go to the state to help them with the long term care costs. Ironically -the state does that with MedicAid money – that we all think goes to the poor.

    what’s my point ?

    It’s easy for folks to collectively look down our “middle-class” noses at the poor thinking they are largely responsible for their own fates – but are we any better off ourselves? Have we really planned any better? And are we depending on the govt to insure we have access to insurance – employer-provided, Medicare and MedicAid?

    so for me – when it comes to the poor – and especially the kids – it’s along the lines of ” there but for the grace of God go I” and who am I to look down my nose at others who have fallen on hard times – and need help also.

    sometimes I think Conservatives not only have hard hearts – but hard heads.

    only the very rich escape these issues. The rest of us are in the same church just a different pew but the hard hearts don’t recognize it.

  12. What exactly is “Food Insecurity”?
    The opposite of “Food Security”, defined in the UN Agenda 21 world Programme/ Plan for global Sustainable Development.
    Rio+20 : Issues Brief 9 – Food Security and Sustainable …
    http://www.uncsd2012.or...
    United Nations Conference on Sustainable Develop…
    This brief reviews international time-bound and some qualitative commitments in the area of food security and sustainable agriculture agreed to in: Agenda 21

    How does one spot those “hard-hearted, hard-headed “Conservative who do whatever they do without being vetted by the caring liberals??

    • well because you don’t need Agenda 21 to really understand it. There are plenty of other more purely objective discussions so explicitly choosing a left or a right viewpoint – instead – starts off wrong.

      you have to want to know the truth – to try to find the truth – not what others on either side would propagandize with misinformation and disinformation.

      next – explicitly move away from trying to frame it only in an inner city racial way and instead keep the perspective open enough to recognize it’s also a problem in rural white areas.

      if you truly are serious about finding out – you drop the right wing habit of basically running away from the issue when it starts getting to the nub of it.

      if your attitude truly is that this is not something that govt should be doing – be honest enough to admit it and own that view instead of running zig-zags.

  13. …well because you don’t need Agenda 21 to really understand it… Understand what?
    Agenda 21 is more than a left-wing idea. It is the UN’s vision for the global community for the 21st century,created by M. Gorbachev and Maurice Strong.
    Consisting of 40 chapters concerning every aspect of human and environmental existence, it is being implemented world-wide.
    Ought to familiarize yourself with it.

    • I’m familiar with it as well as the right wings reaction to it – and it’s just silly conspiracy theories that have zero to do with real issues – it’s a made up issue from the right loons.

      want me to explain it further?

      there are left loons and right loons and Agenda 21 folks in this country are, in my opinion, – loons. all due respect.

  14. “want me to explain it further”?”

    YOU BET.

    I suspect you have never heard of Agenda 21.
    But have lots of opinions.
    You are clueless as to what it really is.

    Hardly a “conspiracy theory” item of the loony right.

    You ,larryg, are clueless about how this UN program impacts us, right here in Virginia . I suspect it is news to you…

    Go ahead, explain.

    • you’re wrong Ed Sidd . I’ve heard quite a bit about it and yes, it has become in the US the Cause célèbre of the loony wacked out right which calls into question the rest of their judgments on the panoply of issues we face.

      As soon as I hear “Agenda 21” from them at hearings .. we know the drill.

      It’s not the fact that Agenda 21 is a real UN effort – it’s the fact the loony right thinks it is a conspiracy.. on any/all matters government..

      http://goo.gl/fIs3yc

  15. https://youtu.be/xtYl_dWMpYM

    I believe that even Jim Bacon will shy away from this.

  16. The length of time it has taken you to respond proves to me, that while you may have “heard ” of Agenda 21- you were clueless until now, as to what it is. Still are.

    You found a very good explanation of what it is…BUT—
    OMG!- it is put together by JBS- John Birch Society.
    I suspect you know as much about JBS as you did about Agenda 21 until had googled yourself to near- death.

    Aside being freaked out that this presentation is by JBS, you need to explain what is there that is false as a presentation of Agenda 21.
    Ever heard of Martha Boneta? Look her/ her case up-Fauquier Co. Perfect example of Agenda 21 application.

    Still maintain that it, Agenda 21, is simply a right wing conspiracy?

    • Let’s be clear here – the right wing thinks Agenda 21 is a conspiracy.

      clear now?

      do you think Agenda 21 is a conspiracy?

      maybe we’re talking past each other.. if you don’t buy the conspiracy theory either.

      make yourself clear.

  17. Agenda 21 is not a right wing conspiracy. It is a global UN program.

    One may be in favor of the world vision that it represents. Or one may be against it, as a threat to certain free, democratic societies such as ours, a republic based on the Constitution, recognizing the individual versus some collective to be guided, controlled, manipulated.

    Clearly, this is your first peek at Agenda 21.

    Can you define “right-wing conspiracy’?

    • have known about Agenda 21 for a long time.

      you’re evading my question.

      do you subscribe to the right wing view of Agenda 21 being a conspiracy?

      last chance.. then you can talk to yourself for awhile.

  18. NO, Agenda 21 is not a conspiracy. It is a global program. The “right-wing” understands it as such.

    You are the one evading an explanation of what do you mean by “conspiracy”.

    Because you have no idea. And what you do next- is resort to name-calling and/or ridicule. A juvenile tactic at best. .

    • is this your view:

      ” “We Don’t Need None of That Smart-Growth Communism””
      or this:

      ” In UN Conspiracy Theorists, the Right Has a Long Con”
      or this:

      ” How right-wing scaremongering about a U.N. global takeover has evolved into a surprisingly effective political strategy across the country.”
      or this:

      ” UN AGENDA 21 – ABOLISH PRIVATE PROPERTY”
      or this:

      ” Books for Conservatives: Agenda 21 Into the Shadows” (Mr. Glenn B)

      any of these describe your views?

      I’m clear on mine .. right? and yes.. I have disparaging words.. sorry

      these idiots showed up 3 years ago at a local government hearing .. one at a time up to the podium to request the BOS outlaw all zoning… because it was a secret UN scheme to take over property rights from people. They said that any property owner had the right to do whatever they wished with their property and it was wrong for any govt to restrict it – especially if the UN was involved.

      There was more but that was the essence of their “concerns”.

      when the – just elected very conservative BOS started rolling their eyes and wincing… it’s was funny… the Conservative BOS mightily put as much daylight between them and the speakers as they could…

      so do you think Agenda 21 is about taking property rights? fess up!

  19. larryg
    I got it, that you have “heard” about Agenda 21.

    Have you bothered to READ IT? Do you think it exists? What is it?

    I am still awaiting for your definition of “conspiracy theory”.
    YES, larryg- Agenda 21 deals with, among many other issues, the question of property rights and should they exist. A21 does not directly answer the question, but has a global plan that definitely does NOT support the idea of private ownership.
    Read it.
    You are clueless because, having “heard” about Agenda 21, you only KNOW-something about the right wing-whackos.

    • El Sidd – can you tell me why you think Agenda 21 is an issue in the US?

      how would any of us know that it is an issue at our local BOS or State General Assembly?

  20. Maybe I will re-engage in this discussion- if it is a serious “discussion” and not name-calling rants.
    larryg-
    Pease define the term “conspiracy theory”.
    Then, I will be more than happy to answer the question you posed.
    “how would any of us know that it is an issue at our local BOS or State General Assembly?”

  21. and this:

    ” Opposition[edit]
    During the last decade, opposition to Agenda 21 has increased within the United States at the local, state, and federal levels.[18] The Republican National Committee has adopted a resolution opposing Agenda 21, and the Republican Party platform stated that “We strongly reject the U.N. Agenda 21 as erosive of American sovereignty.”[19][20] Several state and local governments have considered or passed motions and legislation opposing Agenda 21.[4][13][21][22][23][24] Alabama became the first state to prohibit government participation in Agenda 21.[5] Many other states, including Arizona, are drafting, and close to passing legislation to ban Agenda 21.[25]

    Activists, some of whom have been associated with the Tea Party movement by The New York Times and The Huffington Post, have said that Agenda 21 is a conspiracy by the United Nations to deprive individuals of property rights.[4][13] Columnists in The Atlantic have linked opposition to Agenda 21 to the property rights movement in the United States.[13][26] In 2012 Glenn Beck co-wrote a dystopian novel entitled Agenda 21 based in part on concepts discussed in the UN plan.[27] [28] [29]”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agenda_21

  22. Oh my, a Wikipedia definition — and “this…”
    I wanted to know if you had/have any idea about what the definition of “conspiracy theory” is. You don’t.

    Here is a dictionary definition of a most useful dictionary ” A Dictionary of Political Thought by Roger Scruton published in 1982.Go find it yourself.

    Conspiracy Theory– CT– is the Marxist definition of any contradiction—even if based on fact, of the official narrative.

    Later for Agenda 21.

  23. Why not google Marxist+conspiracy theory?

    • because it’s truly an isolated and self-serving definition out of state with all the other definitions.

      do you folks have to re-define the world to fit your own beliefs?

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