New York State Senator Patty Ritchie, a Republican from St. Lawrence County, has introduced a new bill that would prevent food stamp recipients from using government welfare to buy high-end food like lobster and quality steaks, as well as junk food like decorated cakes and energy drinks. Ritchie’s legislation does not provide a comprehensive list of the foods that would be prohibited, instead calling on the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance to devise the list.
“At a time when our state and nation are struggling with an obesity epidemic, it is critically important that taxpayer funded programs help low income consumers make wise and healthy food choices,” reads the memo attached to the bill. “The purpose of SNAP is to promote good nutrition, but current rules allow the purchase of junk food and luxury items like high-end steaks and lobster.”
The idea has been floated before in a number of states, but it is opposed by liberals who use a variety of strange arguments to squash these restrictions. One of these can be found on Think Progress:
SNAP families don’t actually drink more soda than rich families once you adjust the data for demographics. They eat less candy. They turn to cheaper proteins like chicken, pork, eggs, and beans, but consume just as much overall protein as richer shoppers. They are less likely to eat shellfish than either wealthy shoppers or other low-income families that haven’t enrolled in food stamps even though they could.
And…so? If this means anything, it’s that rules like the one being proposed in New York will have little effect on food stamp recipients and thus should not be particularly controversial. As always, it must be reiterated that no one is suggesting that SNAP families be forbidden from buying lobster, cigarettes, Monster drinks, or birthday cakes. They are as free as anyone to buy those products. And just like anyone, they should have to use their own money to do so. That doesn’t seem like too much to ask.
The argument actually gets even more ridiculous. At Think Progress, the writer insinuates that this kind of legislation runs counter to conservative principles of individual responsibility. “Telling adult shoppers what choices they can and can’t make for their families pushes people in the opposite direction, disempowering them to make up their own minds about their basic nourishment,” they write.
And again, no one is telling adult shoppers what to buy. The bill is telling adult shoppers what they can buy…WITH OTHER PEOPLE’S TAX MONEY! Why is that so hard to understand? Why do liberals think that welfare is some kind of natural-born right?
These assistance programs are important. We don’t want citizens dying because they fell on hard times, and we certainly don’t want children to suffer for the failures of their parents. But reasonable restrictions on what can and cannot be purchased with food stamps not only make sense, they ensure the long-term sustainability of the safety net. This shouldn’t even be controversial, but…you know…Democrats.