Food Stamps: A Microcosm of Out-of-Control Government

Duplication of benefits between other federal programs is rampant. Children in food stamp-eligible families are often if not usually getting free lunches and/or breakfasts at school. It's not mean or nasty to observe that such families are getting 21 meals' worth of benefits each week their kids are in school, but only have to figure out how to feed their kids 11 or 16 times. Many college students on food stamps are receiving financial aid based on their school's officially published cost of attendance, which includes tuition, fees, room -- and board.

Thrift being no longer necessary, the next stage is apparently removing the expectation that recipients prepare their own meals. The program's new frontier is permitting the purchase of restaurant meals. This "feature" is currently limited to four states and is in theory only available to the elderly, disabled, and homeless. If you believe that every fast-food cashier is verifying whether every person paying with their SNAP card really qualifies, I've got a Microsoft Sweepstakes-winning email to forward to you. It should be no surprise that lobbying efforts to expand restaurant merchant eligibility are well under way. I sense that another "win-win" at taxpayers' expense, which will also serve to cement currently too-high benefit levels, is on the horizon.

Finally, the food stamp program, like so many other federal efforts, is riddled with fraud. Ohio alone replaces 200,000 supposedly "lost" food stamp cards per year out of a current pool of 1.6 million recipients, or perhaps 500,000 households. Many if not most of the cards are being sold for cash or drugs.

To contend that this and other federal programs and departments can't be cut -- real cuts, not just reductions in projected, artificially jacked-up spending -- is absurd. Unless we're gunning to be the next Greece but without anyone who will bail us out, we can't afford not to.