Spreading the Wealth Around Gets Personal
While campaigning for president, Senator Barack Hussein Obama, in Ohio in October 2008, was approached by plumber Joe Wurzelbacher, who asked Obama about his tax plans. Senator Obama used very twisted logic to explain to Wurzelbacher that he was going to raise Wurzelbacher's taxes in order to "spread the wealth around."
"Spread the wealth around" has been Obama's tax policy since day 1. Indeed, one example is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the current name for food stamps. SNAP is a government assistance program to help low-income households pay for food. The amount of SNAP food stamps a household receives depends on the household's size, income, and expenses. Now, rather than receiving actual food stamps, recipients receive an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card.
Speaking about food stamps on NBC's Meet the Press on May 15, 2011, Newt Gingrich defended his characterization of Obama as "the most successful food stamp president in American history." Politifact rated Gingrich's statement as "half-true" because it considered the increase as a combination of the economic problems Obama inherited and an upward trend from policy changes.
The following table examines the last three years of Bush's SNAP performance (FY2006-2008) and Obama's SNAP performance (FY2009-2011). For both, the change is expressed as a percentage of the first year presented for each president.
From 2006 until 2008, the last three years of the Bush administration, the number of SNAP participants rose by 6.31%, and the cost rose by 14.65%. From 2009 until 2011, during the Obama administration, the number of participants rose by 33.50%, and the cost rose by 42.60%. By Politifact's own admission, a serious recession began in December 2007, a fact that would have caused the 2008 numbers to rise much faster. But we can see that Obama's SNAP changes were/are much higher than Bush's.
From this analysis we can conclude that (1) Politifact's rating system is less than objective, and (2) Politifact prefers to ignore percentage changes that present a much clearer picture of what has actually happened.
Now, let's get very personal. Having been struck by lightning in 2002, I now live in an "assisted living" facility. I pay all of my expenses from retirements and investments I made over the years. I receive no assistance of any kind from the government. That is fine -- how it should be -- and why I saved and worked hard for my retirement. My wife drives a 2004 Dodge Caravan (Kelley Blue Book value, approximately $8,100).
I offer the two following personal experiences about food stamps as illustrations only.
One of the caregivers at this facility just bought a 2004 GMC Yukon Denali (Kelley Blue Book value, approximately $17,000) and had an FM radio with 5 CD changer installed. Good for her. Her husband, who was unemployed for over a year, found work in January 2012. Good for him. But what really grated on me was the caregiver's references to her receipt of food stamps, to the fact that she spends very little money on food, and to the food she buys with food stamps! Perhaps if I and my wife had a reduced food expense, my wife could drive a newer, nicer car. At least the caregiver is working.
Another care-giver, this one unmarried but with three children, also boasted about how she receives food stamps for herself and her children. She then had the audacity to tell me that she recently spent $110 for a tattoo, saying that she could afford the tattoo because she didn't have to spend money she earned on food. Again, at least the caregiver is working.
If they are typical of food stamp recipients, then I must ask -- why did I bother to get educated, to work and pay taxes, when the government would take care of me? Why was I so dopey as to be responsible for myself and my family's needs? Oh, yeah...someone had to work and produce things and pay taxes that provide food stamps. Or perhaps I was just trying to emulate my parents.
The great playwright George Bernard Shaw once wrote, "Liberty means responsibility. That is why most men dread it." The food stamp recipients who exercise little (if any) responsibility have already forfeited their liberty to the government by being dependent upon food stamps. They must do exactly what the government says in order to continue to receive food stamps. But what will they do when the government no longer can sustain its present largesse?
Dr. Beatty earned a Ph.D. in Quantitative Management and Statistics from Florida State University. He was a (very conservative) professor of quantitative management specializing in using statistics to assist/support decision-making. He has been a consultant to many small businesses and is now retired. Dr. Beatty is a veteran who served in the US Army for 22 years. He blogs at rwno.limewebs.com.