You know what? Sometimes when I interlock my fingers I fear they’ll end up stuck that way forever. Imagine how inconvenient that would be, except for those times in life when you need to provide a booster-step to help a medium sized child or small adult scale a wall. During those times you’d be perfectly equipped for the job. All the rest of the time your life would be rather awkward.
You know what else? Michael Bloomberg, the mayor of New York City, is proposing that food stamps no longer be accepted for the purchase of sugary beverages, like Coca-Cola or the Boylan’s soft drinks we offer at Franktuary. Normally when I read about a topic such as this one I am infuriated that the government wants to play a role in what people are allowed to eat. In this case, however, I applaud Bloomberg’s proposal. Nonetheless, The New York Times article from where I became acquainted with this topic is providing enough consternation that I feel the need to deviate from my pre-planned conversation on the apprehension of dovetailing digits and go into full-fledged political diatribe mode.
Detractors of Bloomberg’s idea make the most ridiculous statements. For example, in a letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack 18 members of the Congressional Black Caucus claim that “the plan is unfair to food stamp recipients because it treats them differently from other customers.”
Clearly, food stamp recipients are different from customers who pay for groceries entirely on their own! A person can make a compelling case that food stamps are a good thing, but to claim that it is unreasonable to treat consumers who use food stamps differently demonstrates a gross disregard for entitlements and those who provide them. If someone else is generous enough to buy me something at a grocery store (or anywhere else), I don’t dwell on what my benefactor refuses to purchase for me. Instead, I am grateful for what I’m given. Why shouldn’t the federal government, as the giver, be able to limit what foodstuffs the receiver can acquire?
Even more asinine is the following rhetorical question: “Once you start going into grocery carts, deciding what people can or cannot buy,” Kevin W. Keane of the American Beverage Association queries, “where do you stop?” Undeniably, without the presence of food stamps there are all sorts of products a food stamp user would not be able to bring home, so by providing someone with food stamps you are already “going into grocery carts, deciding what people can or cannot buy.”
If Mr. Keane is truly in favor of the laissez-faire approach to food purchases his quotation suggests, he should be in favor of abolishing welfare altogether! Without a doubt, though, his only aim is to keep the gravy train rolling. On the input side of his operation Mr. Keane has a foolish government subsidizing his product by providing cheap high fructose corn syrup. On the output side Mr. Keane has a spineless government boosting his interest group’s sales by enabling people, who arguably aren’t equipped to make responsible purchasing decisions on their own, to buy his product.
This is a prime example of the unholy alliance between government and corporation we witness far too often in this nation. I say either take Bloomberg’s suggestions and put them into action or, better yet, eliminate food stamps and rely solely on private charity to help the needy.
Alas, I expect neither to happen. I mean, what’s the political appeal of either of those options when, instead, you can settle for benign mediocrity while being fiercely disliked by very few people? Perhaps that’s the real rhetorical question we should all be asking.
As I further ponder this subject, I’ll be sure to keep my phalanges from mingling.