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The Logic of Paying for Other People’s Values

I just got out of the car, listening over the last few minutes to NPR; to some program on the complex machinations of food stamps.

Sometime way back, in a land far, far away, someone decided he might accumulate some political capital by proposing that the feeding of minimal and base nutrition to the “unincomed” be centralized, collectivized. It was a winner, obviously, because social human animals who might feel humanely compelled to do otherwise, no longer had to concern themselves personally with it. And apparently, few of them realized that they’re going to pay for it anyway. But that doesn’t matter. Someone else will take care of it. They don’t have to think about it.

“I voted.” I’m powerful. Reinforcement.

Alas, it seems that at least some of these “powerful voters” — those who pay attention — have their panties all in a bunch over the food choices of those with food stamps. Yea, of course, they want them to have only “healthy” choices, the lower the fat and the more “fortification” the better. And if they’re going to be allowed fast food at all, then let it be Subway. Well forgive me very much, but it’s hilarious. Only one thing is important:

The logic of who pays, and for what.

When you involve yourself in a massive collective that takes in everyone’s money and doles it out according to policy, enacted by a few, or even the majority, you are certain to have endless battles and strife over how the money is spent.

I’m sure it was an evolutionary mistake…and perhaps people ought to just shut up, bend over, and take it; but for some reason, people really hate when the fruit of their labor and creativity (money) is used to advance values they find abhorrent. Imagine that! Sheesh.

Can’t we all just get along?

No? What, are you imagining a kill being brought back from a hard day’s hunt of a hunter-gatherer tribe and by some freak time-warp coincidence of the space-time continuum, the kill is defiled, wasted, not used in any way amenable to those who spent a hard day providing it?

What, no? You’re not imagining that?

Personally, I still haven’t learned the words to Kumbayah.

Richard Nikoley

I'm Richard Nikoley. Free The Animal began in 2003 and as of 2021, contains 5,000 posts. I blog what I wish...from health, diet, and food to travel and lifestyle; to politics, social antagonism, expat-living location and time independent—while you sleep—income. I celebrate the audacity and hubris to live by your own exclusive authority and take your own chances. Read More

68 Comments

  1. jon w on October 10, 2011 at 19:30

    “Only one thing is important:
    The logic of who pays, and for what.”

    We all know the answer to that one. What’s more important in driving our loss of freedom is the logic of where the riches end up. It’s not the under-incomed who benefit. Hungry in America? Give me a break. Get rid of your TV and cell phone, and go buy a sack of potatoes to feed your family on REAL FOOD.

    • Madbiker on October 11, 2011 at 05:30

      I used to teach in one of the poorest cities in my state. Something like 90% of the students were on welfare and qualified for free lunch, etc. I keep in touch with a few of my former students on FB, students whom I knew to be on welfare (mostly because they would complain about their parents’ not getting the checks in time). Kids who live in Section 8 housing and living on food stamps update their FB statuses from iPhones and Blackberries. Data plans are not cheap. How are they paying for them? And the photos show them with new hats, new shoes, new hairdos, lots of stuff that’s pretty expensive when you do it regularly.

      This is what withers my sense of charity.

      • Richard Nikoley on October 11, 2011 at 07:18

        Not work safe by any means

        It’s free, swipe yo EBT

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NzspsovNvII&feature=youtube_gdata_player



      • Rob A. on October 12, 2011 at 23:37

        Seems like an east target- relatively poor, frequently black folks who admittedly may make irresponsible choices and have different priorities.

        According to http://tinyurl.com/3g9q55n , it seems like the song was co-written by a military apparel contractor. How much does the war machine spend every day in comparison to the few hundred bucks a month ‘welfare queens’ receive? http://costofwar.com/en/ says a whole lot. They just have a pretty good propaganda machine convincing the public of its necessity.

        All that said, I take Chapter at her word that she was abused by a neglectful mom who tried to game the system at her expense, and support her efforts to provide for herself and inspire others to do likewise. Still, if you’re really interested in the illogic of paying for others values, it seems like small fries to prioritize eliminating EBT and Section 8 , while ignoring much more expensive government largesse like the bloated military. Though maybe I just didn’t catch wind of the proportional outrage over the latter.



      • Richard Nikoley on October 13, 2011 at 14:10

        But this is the whole point, Rob. A person might have a strong principled objection to being forced to pay even a dollar for something he finds abhorrent, but let pass the $10 that goes to something he likes or finds only mildly objectionable.



  2. Txomin on October 10, 2011 at 20:24

    You are an intelligent funny man.

  3. Will on October 10, 2011 at 21:09

    i’m just thinking out loud here, but i think of myself as a social human animal who sometimes feels humanely compelled to help others, perhaps the “unincomed”. I doubt there are many people who like the idea of starving people, and i like that idea of preventing this from happening. Why would it be an inherently bad to form a collective system that myself and others contribute to to carry out that function? Because I’m not literally handing money or food to someone myself, does that mean i am not doing anything? Or because the food stamp program as it exists forces people who don’t share that value to contribute? Are there people that don’t share that value?

    i think i understand your point about money/resources going to values one finds abhorrent, theres lots of things i pay for i don’t like. But theres something different to me about this specific issue. For me its a much more visceral reaction when i see someone i know is homeless and might not eat today. And when i don’t walk over and hand that person some food out of my bag or money out of my pocket, i don’t feel proud of what i have, or feel that they didn’t work for it so they don’t deserve it. I just feel sorry for them, and i just feel very lucky to be who i am and have what i do. Perhaps defending food stamps or other programs is a cop out for guilt, but who can deny that people with no food need some, or say that they don’t deserve any help?

    • pfw on October 11, 2011 at 04:38

      That’s the dissonance a brain evolved in times where no one would go hungry unless everyone was is going to feel when confronted with the modern world. Some of the first natives from the Americas brought back to Europe were appalled at the sight of poor beggars in the streets; why didn’t anyone help them? A tribe would be ashamed to be stratified the way Europe was at the time (and we are now), but then that’s probably why I’m living in New Jersey and the native egalitarian tribal society isn’t.

      I don’t think there’s a “solution” to this.

    • Madbiker on October 11, 2011 at 05:24

      I get it, Will, but I think the rub is that welfare is done via government fiat, and does not allow “incomed” people to opt out of funding a system that they perceive as broken, inefficient, and easily corruptible.

      Something I find irritating on the part of most liberals I meet is that they don’t trust in the goodness of human nature, so they come up with laws and policies designed to force people to do fulfill their social duties. A decent human being would not allow someone to starve or go without shelter, and if you’re not decent enough to do that, then it’s not my business to force you. I’ll just consider you a shitty person and move on.

      Private charity used to fulfill many of the functions that have been taken over by welfare. But, with a private charity, you rely on donations from people who are like minded and care about solving the same problem your charity is solving: starvation, shelter, medical needs, clothing, whatever. Sometimes a charitable organization might ask that recipients work for their benefits, or ask that a person make progress towards self-sufficiency. Welfare, so far as I know, doesn’t do that.

      I clerked at my local grocery store one summer, and the end of the month was always a bonanza of beef tenderloins, gourmet cheese, pork chops, fruit juice, milk, the best of the best of cookies and crackers and snacks – for welfare recipients. They would get their monthly allowance and blow it on food I would not ever buy because I couldn’t afford it (or wouldn’t eat it). They ate like kings, for a week or so at least, until the party ended and they lived on crackers and cheese for a few weeks until they could get steak again. This is irritating, because welfare funded a behavior for which I have great distaste. If some of my tax money is being used to give them a filet mignon party once a month, you bet I feel I should have a say in how they use the money. If I wasn’t funding it, I wouldn’t care. But I’m forced to, and still don’t have a say. This is what grates.

      I wouldn’t let someone starve. As I said above, I don’t know anyone who would let someone go homeless or without food. On the whole, I believe people are decent and generous. But that decency and generosity withers when you consider you already support some welfare functions, so why do any more?

      • Richard Nikoley on October 11, 2011 at 07:24

        “Is your desire to help others so great as to actually help them, or only so great as to force others to help them?” – Anponymous poster, USENET, circa 1994



      • Madbiker on October 11, 2011 at 07:35

        Richard,

        I think this sums up liberal ideology nicely.

        Regarding the collectivism you wrote about not long ago, I don’t think a small amount of collectivism is bad – think Dunbar’s Number and the limits to which we can extend our sphere of compassion. Wanting a better world is not bad, and taking steps to make it better are not evil, as long as we do it without coercive action against others. That is really the only evil. Using religion or the law as extrinsic motivators only makes people do the minimum required to avoid notice. It’s far better to find something to intrinsically motivate a person to do good just for good’s sake. This is why I refuse to lie to my kids about god, the devil, heaven, hell, and the easter bunny. They should want to be good people because it’s just a good thing to do, not because they fear punishment from god, denial of heaven, or loss of treats. The law, however, is another matter. It’s not a fiction and harder to combat.



      • Sean on October 11, 2011 at 07:32

        Yeah, I’m a firm believer that the War of Poverty, like all other wars on nouns has made the situation worse for everyone, especially the poor.

        These things also create a disincentive for community involvement, for spending one’s own time and/or money to help others in the community, besides the obvious problems with incentives and entitlement, not to mention all the economic distortion. Some might consider consequentialist political arguments meaningless, but that’s my consequentialist opinion.



    • Becky on October 11, 2011 at 07:29

      “Perhaps defending food stamps or other programs is a cop out for guilt, but who can deny that people with no food need some, or say that they don’t deserve any help?”
      Few would argue that the starving don’t need help. The issue with foodstamps is the implementation. As someone else said, in years gone by everyone sank or swam together. The tribe had a lot, or it had a little, and no one went without unless everyone did.

      Say you’re walking down the street and see a child you know damn well is starving. The natural human response is to offer up part of what you have – whether it’s your kid or not, humans are social and are hardwired to sacrifice for the minis of our species. In this case, you’re splitting your lunch in half.

      But foodstamps require that it’s not an equal distribution. There’s a difference in degree and kind. I may scrimp and save on a budget to meet my bills, pay my taxes and feed my kids. Yet there are kids eating better than mine, with the tax money I paid. My kids are getting less of my time, my attention and my cash so someone else’s child can get more of all of the above. (Illustration: my grocery budget is $400/month. In Illinois, I’d get $800 a month in foodstamps if I were unemployed. Think my kids would be eating “nicer” foods?)

      I, personally, would feel incredibly better about the situation if instead of “foodstamps” we had “dinner shares.” Send a family over to eat with me, have me pack lunches for someone else’s kids. I’ll even pay for it, no government assistance required. Not only am I deciding how to ration my resources (capitalism?), everyone involved is sinking or swimming together.

      • Madbiker on October 11, 2011 at 07:53

        I like the dinner-shares idea, but I can see that a lot of food might be wasted, just like food is wasted on the free-lunch program.

        Giving people food to eat doesn’t guarantee they will eat it; the only thing it says on paper is that they’ve received the food. Which makes me wonder how much good these programs are really doing in the long run. I saw a lot of wasted “free” (TANSTAAFL) food at my last school. Kid’s didn’t want to eat what was doled out to them. They wanted McDonald’s and would pay seniors, who had privilege to leave campus, to buy cheeseburgers and fries for them. So it’s double waste – waste on government programs to provide food that will never be eaten, and waste on crappy food that fills a belly but wreaks havoc on the rest of the bodies systems (not that gov’t sponsored nutrition is necessarily any better).



  4. pfw on October 11, 2011 at 04:40

    Well, at least we haven’t gone as far as Denmark (yet). I’m sure you’ve seen the fat tax nonsense: http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2011/10/denmarks-fat-tax-now-thats-rich/246158/

    Bets on when this comes to America?

    • Neal Matheson on October 11, 2011 at 07:03

      It is in the offing for the UK, very worrying as life is expensive enough already. Reading a lot of the health ‘knowledge” surrounding this article I feel like I am taking crazy pills. I never really understand why steaks liver etc are lumped in with doughnuts and ice cream I also wonder whether there would be such a big fuss if sautrated fats weren’t found mainly in animal products.
      As for politics conservative and liberal have different meanings on this side of the pond I doubt you’d find me in either camp. For me Paleo is a state of mind not a diet and it’s a state of mind that finds mainstream political discourse, bewildering and alienating!

    • Sean on October 11, 2011 at 07:20

      Yeah I heard the tax on a bag of potato chips would be something like 12 cents, the tax on a cube of butter 75 cents. How ironic, and by ironic I mean idiotic. Strange because Denmark has been doing better than most countries, especially in Europe, in economic freedom, currently ranked #8 on the Index of Economic Freedom. And what is economic freedom if not the ability to buy healthy foods like butter without paying a sin tax? Paging mayor Bloomberg…

  5. rob on October 11, 2011 at 05:03

    Long time ago I worked with a lady who was an animal lover, she used to distribute free pet food to people who couldn’t afford to feed their cats and dogs … I used to help her load the cases of food into her truck at the pet shelter food depot. If you needed some free pet food you just called them and they put you on the list, no forms to fill out or government involvement.

    Maybe we could do that with people.

    • Madbiker on October 11, 2011 at 05:31

      There are lots of charities that already do. People might likely be more generous then they already are with their time and money if a huge chunk of their income wasn’t already being redirected to government programs that essentially do the same thing.

      • Richard Nikoley on October 11, 2011 at 07:30

        You can Google around to find all sorts of stories about local food police stopping restaurants from giving away their leftovers to food shelters, as well as mom & pop type “soup lines,” where the food hasn’t been prepared in a licensed and inspected commercial kitchen.

        Then there’s the kid right of passage lemonade stands being shut down and the parents often receiving citations.

        It’s just another day in the land of the free.



      • Madbiker on October 11, 2011 at 07:42

        Heard! I am facing too-steep licensing and equipment fees to start a small home-based catering business, and am shelving the idea (for now).

        The regulatory environment in the US has pervaded and perverted the spirits of generosity and ingenuity that are the cornerstones of everyday survival, prosperity, and charity.



      • Sean on October 11, 2011 at 07:51

        Ha, if you think it’s bad there, try living in the EU. That’s all the European Parliament does is invent new rules and regulations, when they aren’t trying to grab the pork that is, or moving back and forth between Strasbourg and Brussels.



      • Madbiker on October 11, 2011 at 07:58

        A dear friend from my childhood lives in the UK. She described her maternity leave terms to me (6 months paid, 3 months at half-pay, and 3 months no pay but on dole with a full and complete return to her prior position). Then she can send her kids to care, free of charge, while she and her husband go to their day jobs. Sounds nice, but I wouldn’t want to live in such a highly regulated and socialized environment. She makes good money as an analyst for JPMorgan. I suppose I could say it’s terribly democratic and nice that she is subsidized the same as others who make more or less than she does, but its the subsidy, period, that kills me.

        She is considering coming back to the states to be close to her family. The one thing holding her back is knowing she will have to give up so many of her social benefits upon moving here. Sometimes I can’t believe she’s the same person who went to Barcelona for grad school and never came back. But I guess living in a socialist system for so long does funny things to a person.



      • Sean on October 11, 2011 at 09:00

        There’s something similar here in CZ, except even moreso. My wife has her own business so none of this really helped her when she had the kid. It’s a combination of forcing companies to pay and forced hire back and government welfare that especially hurts female small businesses like my wife.

        My wife had to return to work as soon as possible after having our brat because it’s a small company and she essentially IS the business. Likewise she would have had her business crushed if she hired a woman employee who took the mandatory 2 year leave that employees are eligible for here. There are workarounds, of course, people are employed as contractors for smaller businesses to evade this sort of shit, but it’s a lot of wasted time and effort running around trying to make a goddamned living.

        If one works for a large company that can operate inside such distortions (and perhaps encourage them), then it’s all gravy.

        Yummy, yummy gravy.

        If one is stubborn enough to try and row upstream and actually have their own small business in such an environment it can be a real shit sandwich.



      • Sean on October 11, 2011 at 09:33

        I also know an American ex-pat here in Prague who’s a CPA for a a large international firm who took advantage of all the state enforced benefits (and who wouldn’t). Sure she worked pretty ridiculous hours but she was paid in kind.

        Great gal, but she was very far from needing the State to pay her off for having a kid.



      • gallier2 on October 12, 2011 at 02:41

        Just to nitpick a bit, the rules and regulations are not invented by the European Parliament but by the Commission (sometime on behalf of the Council). The Parliament only rubber stamps or refuse these propositions. It has no initiating power at all.
        Technically, the European Union is a tyranny, because its executive branch (the Commission) has no real challenge from the other two branches (Parliament and Court Of Justice). That was one of the reasons the French (me included) voted against the so called constitution.



      • Sean on October 12, 2011 at 07:04

        Damnit stop enlightening me on this stuff! I want to remain willfully ignorant! I didn’t know that, but interesting, hurray for tyranny under the guise of democracy!

        Most Europeans seem to have nothing but disdain for the EP (and the Commission I guess), I can’t recall anyone having something positive to say about it, or even having much more knowledge about the system than I do.



      • gallier2 on October 12, 2011 at 08:53

        Oh, I could say positive stuff about the Commission, as it is my duty as an Official of that Institution. Working there is quite nice and the staff is rather ok. I worked before in the private sector in small and big companies and I can’t say that the bureaucratic apparatus is really worse here then there. I might have a skewed view of it though, as I’m not based in Brussels and don’t really have to deal much with the “political” level of things. We also have excellent cooperation with the other Institutions at our level, even if things don’t look that quiet on the political level (the Council is often very hostile to the Commission for electoralist reasons, the staff regulation conflict 2 years ago being a good example of that).



      • Sean on October 12, 2011 at 11:30

        Wait, you are French and you work for the European Commission? I’m pretty sure we were meant to be mortal enemies.

        I’ve worked for perhaps the most fucked up Federal agency in the US, BLM, and for a large US corporation. While the difference was large, I was surprised how much time was wasted on politics and in-fighting in the private sector corporate job. My experience with much smaller companies and being an entrepreneur here in Prague is to just try and get shit done.



      • Tyler on October 11, 2011 at 10:06

        Eh… I don’t buy this argument. At all.

        I also don’t really feel like jumping into this argument with ideologues, as supporting those poor, lazy black people seems to be an emotionally charged subject for quite a few people out there.

        Not directly claiming that you’re a racist ideologue. Just that this sentiment is so faulty and I’ve discussed it many times time over with people whose opinions never change, despite the fact that poverty is not an issue of motivation and self-promotion, but more a natural result of trickle-down capitalism and institutionalized remnants of racially-derived castes.



      • Richard Nikoley on October 11, 2011 at 10:22

        “I’ve discussed it many times time over with people whose opinions never change”

        I guess you’re the only one with the privilege of never changing your opinion.



      • Tyler on October 11, 2011 at 10:36

        I am definitely open to adopting new perspectives. My opinions have changed plenty of times. That’s actually how I wound up where I am now.

        It just happens to be that the second half of what I said (that you didn’t quote) isn’t an opinion, which means it doesn’t change:

        “… despite the fact that poverty is not an issue of motivation and self-promotion, but more a natural result of trickle-down capitalism and institutionalized remnants of racially-derived castes.”

        We could get into the history of modern poverty. We could discuss this to no ends.

        This thing I don’t agree with, which is a result of denying this institutionalized impoverishment? This being the answer: “People might likely be more generous then they already are with their time and money if a huge chunk of their income wasn’t already being redirected to government programs that essentially do the same thing.”

        If we would like to believe that these government programs do the same thing as charities, and that abolishing these programs in order to encourage people to spend their money on others would make things better… then what would you, as an individual, spend that reimbursed 1% of your taxes on?

        So you make $30,000 a year. You have 15% federally taxable income, not counting deductions and whatnot. So that’s $4,500? and 1% of that is $4.50?

        What will you spend YOUR $4.50 on that will work better than food stamps?



      • Richard Nikoley on October 11, 2011 at 11:08

        “This thing I don’t agree with, which is a result of denying this institutionalized impoverishment?”

        Another myth long debunked. While there are always “poor” people, who they are is vastly different over time. People _move_ through the ranks of the poor, and on and up.

        Here’s a post of mine from 2004 about an article 11 years old at the time. You’ve been believing a myth that was debunked 18 years ago.

        https://freetheanimal.com/2004/03/greed_the_incom.html

        http://reason.com/archives/1993/02/01/gekko-echo



      • Tyler on October 11, 2011 at 14:25

        Richard,

        With all due respect, neither of these articles debunks the reality of institutionalized impoverishment.

        I agree that people DO move through ranks of the poor, with, according to the article you cited, only 14% of those individuals (from this time frame) not moving up. I would feel completely comfortable betting that that number is much higher now that our blue-collar jobs have all but evaporated. Manufacturing? Welding? The housing market? Trade jobs have dried up or been exported. (All with the proper eye toward capitalizing upon the lower wages of those oversea, of course).

        They even say, “The real question of fairness is whether individuals are free to exploit the opportunities available to them in the effort to improve their condition.”

        They go on to place blame on regulations and taxes as the sole stymie, pretending that all individuals who are unable to move up in income are victims of restricted entrepreneurship. We both know that’s silly.

        I would instead look to education, a change in the reality and climate of what a modern wage-earner faces, and a lack of awareness for both opportunity and possibility when examining the stifled lower-class.

        This isn’t even to touch upon the history and creation of the modern middle-class as a buffer between the lower and upper. But examining the foundation of America and those who actually fought in American Revolution would be another task all together.



      • Richard Nikoley on October 11, 2011 at 14:54

        “I would feel completely comfortable betting that that number is much higher now that our blue-collar jobs have all but evaporated. Manufacturing? Welding? The housing market? Trade jobs have dried up or been exported. (All with the proper eye toward capitalizing upon the lower wages of those oversea, of course).”

        Yea, I’m still pissed that buggy whip workers lost their jobs.



      • Madbiker on October 14, 2011 at 06:18

        “Not directly claiming that you’re a racist ideologue.”

        Except, you are. Getting handouts is a quick way to get people dependent on you. Once dependent on you, they vote for you/support you in some-wayshapeform.

        The “Swipe yo EBT” video highlights non-welfare perceptions of how welfare recipients live. Is it false? I’ve seen evidence that it is true, and in any sector of the government’s racist categories of descent.

        The problems of poverty and class division are too involved to be solved by gov’t policy. I do feel genuinely hoodwinked by having my tax dollars sent to welfare programs that subsidize behaviors I would not normally engage in or endorse. Does that make me a non-compassionate person? One who would deny a child food? NO, emphatically, NO, because I don’t like to see people go hungry or without shelter. But, there is a cart-before-the-horse argument here. And a “how big is my circle of compassion” argument. Which is ultimately a “how many of my shared genetic material do I care about” argument.

        I care about my genes. I care about those of my siblings. Let’s say one of my siblings had a child she could not care for, and at the same time some stranger on welfare had a kid she could not care for. I would give my money to my sister, to care for her child. We share genetic material, upbringing, values, and…genetic material. I have nothing in common with a stranger who needs my support. I might not withhold support, but it might be restricted. What is the perquisite for me supporting genetic material to which I have no directly discernible connection?

        So…I am a racist ideologue, because I choose myself over others. And my observations have led me to continue to choose myself over others.

        I think that some people think I ought to subjugate myself to the service of other less fortunate persons. But I am less fortunate than many. Why are they not subjugating themselves to me and mine?

        Look, in the end, all people really are responsible for themselves. Welfare, subsidies – they just perpetuate the illusion that someone else will take care of you since you cannot do it for yourself. It’s this enabling attitude that I find most offensive. You are HUMAN! You have the brainpower, the mental capacity, to overcome adversity…so why is this not happening?



  6. jandy on October 11, 2011 at 06:05

    soooo…..true, Richard. I think you should run for President….of the Paleo Party 🙂 Its funny, I find that most people that subscribe to this way of eating and living are mostly conservative, ( thinking,not necessarily voting, lest you think I think any of these “overlords “are any good) and believe in small government and personal responsibility.

    Strange coincidence? 🙂

    • Richard Nikoley on October 11, 2011 at 07:32

      No coincidence at all, since step one is to realize that you’re on your own.

      • Sean on October 11, 2011 at 07:42

        Sure you are on your own, but at the same time people have a lot of altruism in them, built into the HG tribal mentality, I think. Government involvement chips away at this, makes people more immune and less likely to help out others. The altruism is there for most, it’s just that Team Blue thinks that altruism is spending other people’s money to fix the problem. It’s a vicious circle.



  7. Bernardo on October 11, 2011 at 06:19

    Can these “poor” people go to your house, kill you, steal your wife and food? That would make things even. And that would be natural as well. Gotta see both sides of the logic. Can these people really start a new business? Can they take some land an start working on it? No, all land is “owned” by someone. Is it natural to own kilometers of land when you are just one person? Or do these people have to bow down and beg for a “Job” to another human, sometimes weaker and stupidier. Nothing in our society is natural and we can’t fix one thing and leave the rest unsolved. As for government involvement, that’s another issue…

  8. Robert on October 11, 2011 at 06:53

    Sadly I find myself agreeing more and more with you. I already think that our hunter-gatherer ancestors may have been happier than most of us. I don’t know if I ever end up agreeing with your extreme version of anarchy, but seeing the gross incompetence of the state (and politicians) I find myself thinking more and more “let’s us do it ourselves and you (state) stay away(from our money)” I wonder what the future will bring in this regard.

    • Richard Nikoley on October 11, 2011 at 07:36

      One mind at a time, Robert. Short of mass civil disobedience (good) or bloody revolution or civil war (very bad), the only way to affect change is for individual people to begin behaving as though the state doesn’t matter and that little to nothing is really needed from it. Act as though it doesn’t even exist.

      • Drew on October 12, 2011 at 12:25

        I’ve been meaning to email with a longer version of this question, but: As a small business owner, I feel as if the state very much exists in my life even though I do not need anything from it. As much as it pains me every time I make an EFTPS for payroll taxes, I’m afraid it would eventually pain me even more to ignore the collection letters. Other than not voting, what can someone in my position do to act as if the state doesn’t exist?



      • Richard Nikoley on October 12, 2011 at 12:41

        Very simple, Drew. What you are compelled to do vs what you can do. You’re probably already there.

        Do you laugh uproariously when someone speaks out about “benefits” you might be able to apply to get? I do.



      • Drew on October 12, 2011 at 13:25

        Yes, I do believe I’m already there.

        “Do you laugh uproariously when someone speaks out about “benefits” you might be able to apply to get? I do.”

        We live in Alabama, and in April our small town was hit by a couple of tornadoes. My sister-in-law, who lives in a mobile home in my mother-in-laws yard, called me the day our power came back on to tell me I needed to hurry up and go to one of the baptist churches and get in line; they were giving $200 food stamp cards to anybody that qualified. Her(long-term unemployed) husband had just came back from getting theirs, and wanted to make sure we got our fair share.



      • Richard Nikoley on October 12, 2011 at 13:47

        Yea…uh…thanks?



  9. Michael C on October 11, 2011 at 06:54

    It’s an imperfect system, but is likely better than people starving and dying in the streets. Sure there is abuse and fraud, but I’m guessing that it’s in the minority and most people using food aid are doing it for legitimate and necessary reasons. Military and defense spending makes up 60% of the budget and I’m sure waste and fraud there is even greater. That conflicts with MY values and is a much larger chunk of the pie. The glory of democracy is that no one gets everything they want and everyone is pissed off about it.

  10. Natalie on October 11, 2011 at 10:18

    It’s all about bread and circus. The romans knew the best way to control the population is provide unlimited dough and entertainment. There’s nothing new under the sun. Of course, as typical of our day and age, we’ve gone even further and give people “free” protection, education, health care, roads, you name it. Of course, they’re not really free, but the masses aren’t used to question the government anymore (thanks to the “free” education).

  11. Tyler on October 11, 2011 at 10:25

    Here’s a question:

    Would someone be more upset with a family going out and using Food Stamps to buy enough to feed all five of them for a month, even though it’s shitty wheat crumbles from a box or if that person purchased fresh vegetables and grass-fed (or hell, maybe not even grass-fed) beef for a couple of weeks?

    Nutrition and healthy eating are not designed for the poor. Food itself is/should be such a valuable commodity that we spend much of our time allocating it.

    The mentality of the modern society revolves around this instant-coffee, instant-sugar, drive-through, boxed meals as the NORM. So of course no one will “pay extra” for food when we’re told or taught that Shredded Wheat is just as good, if not miles healthier.

    So we have misinformation permeating those whose wallets aren’t very plump. If they’re able to get by spending as little as possible, if only to achieve some semblance of social standing and class with technology, then of course they will. Everyone would if they were faced with something versus nothing.

    Think of the prejudice a cashier experiences when someone comes through their line with one of two baskets:

    – Boxes of pasta, cereal, milk, juice, soda, whole grain chips, maybe some frozen dinners

    vs

    – A couple pounds of beef, chicken. And that’s it.

    Which option is stretching the cashier’s tax money further? The first, obviously. Even though there’s soda, soda is cheap as dirt and keeps kids happy.

    Bleh. I find this whole scenario so full of subjectivity that it’s hard for me to take sides swinging. Poverty reinforces so many things, such as where you live (near a farmer or co-op? no? go to walmart then; can’t afford to move to have the possibility of finding a job elsewhere? can’t afford a car?) and how you’re best able to spend your money.

    That immediate gratification of new clothes or an iphone likely far outweigh putting that money in savings. What would you end up with? an extra $1000 over the course of a year? what’s that going to do for you?

    So let them eat cake. The system has made it a poor food… it’s not their fault.

    /sad

    • Richard Nikoley on October 11, 2011 at 10:29

      “Would someone be more upset with a family going out and using Food Stamps to buy enough to feed all five of them for a month, even though it’s shitty wheat crumbles from a box or if that person purchased fresh vegetables and grass-fed (or hell, maybe not even grass-fed) beef for a couple of weeks?”

      The myth that you can’t eat quality on food stamp budget has been debunked many, many times in the Paleo community by a number of people.

      • Tyler on October 11, 2011 at 10:38

        But the issue is of education and awareness.

        And let’s not forget that fact that there is a giant misconception floating out there with regards to what “healthy food” is.

        To this family, a box of Wheaties IS healthy. They’ve been taught this many many times over.



      • Madbiker on October 11, 2011 at 11:46

        Agreed, Tyler. I know I come off sounding like a “fuck you if you can’t hack it” type, but sometimes it does come down to just that. I won’t disagree that modern education is designed to encourage dependence upon a State – from an historical, financial, and nutritional perspective. There are issues with our stratified society and private property laws that exacerbate the problem of poverty – but my larger point is really “What is poverty?” when people on housing vouchers and food stamps can afford luxuries like 4G phones, data plans, designer clothes, and amenities like running water, electricity, TVs, computers, internet access, and vehicular transport that impoverished people in so many other nations can neither access nor afford?

        As long as someone has one dollar more than you, that someone is rich and you are poor. It becomes a matter of the choices you make with the money you have. A foolhardy choice is foolish whether you’ve made the money yourself or it comes from welfare or charity. What a lot of people who fund welfare see is that there is a lack of priorities. Prioritizing income and tasks makes for efficient living and leads to prosperity. Spendthrifts of any income level and stripe don’t tend to be successful. And our spendthrift government is encouraging people to spend their way out of debt – which we know we cannot do.



      • Richard Nikoley on October 11, 2011 at 14:08

        “To this family, a box of Wheaties IS healthy. They’ve been taught this many many times over.”

        We’ll they are wrong, factually wrong.

        Nobody ought to be forced to pay for the errors of others, whether through ignorance or not.



      • Curmujeon on October 12, 2011 at 07:04

        Kinda gets back to what Clemens said: “The truth can’t hurt. It’s what you think you know that just ain’t so that hurts.” or something like that.



      • Josh S on October 12, 2011 at 12:31

        I beleive it’s “It ain’t what we don’t know, but what we do know that just ain’t so” 😀



    • rob on October 11, 2011 at 13:20

      Imo the important thing re food for people on the dole is “does it satisfy hunger?”

      Rice satisfies hunger, give them a whole bunch of rice. Throw in some beans. Nobody is going to go hungry or starve if they have rice and beans.

      I would be much happier if we gave people actual food (bags of rice and beans) rather than vouchers that they can spend on frozen pizza … frozen pizza is for closers.

      • Josh S on October 12, 2011 at 12:32

        EXACTLY. Rice and beans are cheap, wheaties, and hamburger helper are NOT cheap.



      • Richard Nikoley on October 12, 2011 at 12:44

        This is true, and while white rice is pretty benign, if you soak pinto beans overnight and change the water a couple of times, they approach benign. Add in some chicken and you have very decent nutrition on the very cheap.



  12. Debbie on October 11, 2011 at 16:57

    To be honest, in the last few years, the only folks I have seen wielding food stamps are people that.. um, let’s just say… did not grow up in the good old US of A. And barely speak English. ‘scratches head’. hmmmm….

    • Richard Nikoley on October 11, 2011 at 17:45

      I don’t know about other states but here in CA, they get an EBT card that works like a debit card, so the social stigma has been removed.

    • Txomin on October 14, 2011 at 01:08

      Evil foreigners…

  13. Andre Chimene on October 12, 2011 at 14:25

    “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, teach a man to fish and he feeds himself…but he stills smells like fish.” Andre.
    Go Richard the Lionheart!

    • Richard Nikoley on October 12, 2011 at 15:55

      See my latest, top of the blog. I did my best to include something that would piss everyone off.

  14. Andre Chimene on October 12, 2011 at 19:49

    You can piss everyone off…it is a gift…I am angry and I agree with you.

  15. […] Richard Nikoley claims he doesn’t know the words to “Kumbayah.” […]

  16. Lance Strish on October 16, 2011 at 13:00

    Here is a list of some other ‘complex machinations’

    Half of US social program recipients believe they “have not used a government social program” http://boingboing.net/2011/07/08/half-of-us-social-pr.html?dlvrit=36761
    & http://www.reddit.com/r/politics/comments/klo45/57_of_americans_say_they_dont_use_social_programs/

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