Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Not enough to eat

Philadelphia Inquirer opinion editorial "Not enough to eat" (November 18th, 2009) writes on a USDA report showing that there are a number of families in the United States that are "food insecure". The Inquirer's solution to the problem is to encourage an increase in food stamps:

So now that the "wake-up call" has been sounded, what would would it mean to actually take the issue of hunger seriously?

In the relatively short term, Congress should increase funding and eligibility for safety-net programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program - what used to be called Food Stamps - as well as child-nutrition programs like school lunch and breakfast, as well as after-school and summer food programs. More Americans may be malnourished than at any time in the last 15 years, but without federal feeding programs, the situation would be exponentially worse.

This is an error. If we are concerned with starving individuals in the United States, then food stamps at their very best are less than or as efficient as cash, never more. That individuals would not know that they wanted food more than something else suggests that they were not starving to begin with. Similarly, to pretend that food stamps are not inefficiently fungible with cash is in error.

Better to give starving individuals the same amount of money in cash--taxpayers are indifferent and starving individuals are made better off.

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