Way to go, Congress! Back in June, the GOP-led House approved a bill providing millions in farm subsidies, while snatching food stamps from the farm bill package entirely. Then, on July 11th, they went ahead and passed this farce of a bill even though it heavily penalizes people in their own states! Believe it or not, “red” states are the real welfare states, and the states with the most people on food stamps are all run by Republicans. As those “cheese-eating surrender monkeys” in France might murmur in their cafés over glasses of wine and acrid Gitanes cigarettes, “quel ironie.”
How did the GOP get away with taking away food stamps from hungry people in their own states?
Meanwhile, here in “blue” America, we’re covering our ears against a heavy, clanging din as millions of jaws drop to the floor. How do these conservatives keep getting away with this crap? Maybe it has something to do with all the vile myths and outright lies churned out by the right wing propaganda machine — oops, I mean, ‘media’ — on a daily basis. As is always the case with laws and sausages, right-wing propaganda is a messy and downright gross business, and most of usreally don’t want to watch it being made. That’s why this video from Media Matters for America is such an eye-opener. After watching this montage of casual, callous, ignorant, and downright appalling statements from Rush Limbaugh and the talking heads at Fox News, you’ll have a better idea of why folks from high-poverty states — like OH, PA, WI, MO, TN, Texas, FL, South CA, NC, AZ, NM, LA, MS, GA, AL, ME, and AK — keep voting for these conservative meanies.
Here’s Media Matters‘ video montage of idiots saying stupid stuff about food stamps on Fox News:
The quotes from this lovely video cliptage all center around eight tired, inaccurate, and mean old myths about food stamps and poverty in general: (1) If you need food stamps, you’re a loser and it’s your fault; (2) Liberals promote food stamps so people will become dependent on welfare, and vote for them; (3) People on food stamps aren’t really poor, and don’t really need help; (4) We can’t possibly have hunger in America, because so many Americans are fat; (5) Speaking of which … maybe some of these food stamps recipients should go on a diet; (6) People on food stamps are welfare cheats; (7) Who needs food stamps when we can go dumpster diving?; and (8) Having a social safety net is bad, because it creates a culture of dependency.
1. If you need food stamps, you’re a loser and it’s your fault.
“The image we have of poor people as starving and living in squalor really is not accurate. Many of them have things, what they lack is the richness of spirit.”
— Stuart Varney
Not only does this sort of thinking promote the idea that people are poor for lack of a work ethic and good morals. It also catches those of us who do need help in a vicious cycle of self-hatred, self-blame, and secret shame. Boosting this shame invites us to hate food stamp recipients and vote against welfare programs even while we’re being helped by them. We’re not the ones who should feel ashamed. People who think it’s okay for people to starve and go without basic necessities in a land of wealth and plenty are the ones who should feel ashamed.
2. Liberals promote food stamps so people will become dependent on welfare, and vote for them.
“Re-elect Obama, food stamps for everyone.”
— Laura Ingraham
Obviously, this is not true … if it were, the folks living in the Red states listed above would stop voting for these jerks in the GOP!
3. People on food stamps aren’t really poor, and don’t really need help.
“They’re all gonna have a phone, a TV set, a car, and 120 free minutes, and food stamps.”
— Rush Limbaugh
First of all, having a cell phone, TV, a car, and food stamps does not make you well-off. We are only able to afford cheap consumer electronics because they’re made in countries with low wages, unsafe working conditions, and few regulations. Meanwhile, many of us don’t have secure employment any more, because globalization’s non-stop race to the bottom unfairly forces us to compete against those workers. Instead of urging fairness, safety, and higher living standards for our trading partners, we’re lowering our own standards. Thanks to Walmart, we can afford to buy lots of cheap, plastic crap. But the things we need to live — like food, housing, health care, and gas or bus fare — are still out of reach for many of us.
4. We don’t have hunger in America, because so many Americans are obese.
“Sixteen MILLION children face a summer of hunger. Now, Michelle Obama told us they’re all so fat and out of shape and overweight that a summer off from government eating might be just the ticket.”
— Rush Limbaugh
“Poor people in America have an obesity problem. And yet, we give more people food stamps.”
— Geraldo Rivera
I can barely even get past the vision of a morbidly obese, cigar-chomping, mean-spirited slob like Rush Limbaugh giving health advice to the less well-off amongst us … but here goes. Believe it or not, it is possible, and has become more and more common in America. Elaine Watson’s recent article in a trade magazine for nutritionists explains how we can become too fat and under-nourished at the same time. It’s because there’s a vast gulf between getting enough — or too many — calories, and getting enough nutrition and exercise. Calories and junk food are cheap. Healthy foods like fresh produce often cost too much, and are not available to low-income people living in far-flung rural or inner city areas. Poor people also often lack cars and don’t live near bus and subway lines. Finding ways to exercise is also tough in unsafe and isolated neighborhoods, especially if you have chronic health problems from obesity and malnutrition.
5. Maybe some of these food stamps recipients need to go on a diet.
“I should try it, because, do you know how fabulous I’d look? I’d be SO SKINNY!”
— Andrea Tantaros’s giddy thoughts on taking the food stamps challenge and spending only $130 per month on food.
Squeeeeee! She can look caring AND lose weight! Sounds like a win-win for Tantaros, who is already such a slender wisp of a thing — both physically and mentally — she might flat-out disappear. Which could also be a win-win for the rest of us. What’s not to like?
6. People on food stamps are welfare cheats.
“Remember that lottery guy? Still getting food stamps! Come on!”
— Gerry Willis
This old and tiresome trope started when Ronald Reagan conjured up stories of welfare queens driving pink Cadillacs. Funny, I always thought those were Mary Kay sales women. But it makes absolutely no sense that this supposed thief would risk felony charges just to scam $130 in food stamps per month. If you’re going to game the system, why not just throw on a suit, work for a bank, and cheat investors and mortgage holders? It’s easier and better paid, plus Wall Street’s white collar criminals almost never do jail time.
7. Who needs food stamps when you can go dumpster diving?
“There’s always the neighborhood dumpster. Now you might find competition with homeless people there, but there are videos produced to show you how to healthfully dive and survive until school starts back up in August.”
— Rush Limbaugh
Yikes! If our local homeless folks here in San Jose, CA saw Rush Limbaugh’s plumber-butt sticking out of a dumpster, they’d run screaming for the hills. I don’t even know where to begin, because the image of desperate parents digging around in dumpsters to feed their kids scraps of moldy food until free school lunches resume is downright Dickensian. Do we seriously want to live in the squalid world of “Oliver Twist“? I’m seriously starting to think our Republicans actually dowant that. I don’t know how Limbaugh caught wind of the Freegan movement (the practice of … um … “reclaiming and eating discarded food”), but this is hardly how we should expect citizens of a first-world democracy to live.
8. Having food stamps is bad, and creates a culture of … um … Depends™ency.
“Well, it’s like we’re wearing one, gigantic Depends undergarment. It’s like, hey, we’re America, don’t worry about it. Now, pretty soon we won’t have to go to the bathroom for ourselves.”
— Kimberly Guilfoyle
Is this some new and even more vile version of what “All In The Family‘s” Archie Bunker hilariously called “tinkle down theory?” Like, if we come together as citizens and build a safety net that catches us when we fall into hard times, we’re literally sh*tting on each other? Like, ew. Thanks for the lovely image, Kimberly Guilfoyle.
Why do we think it’s so horrible for people to take care of each other? Families and human societies have done exactly that since long before civilization began. Having a social safety net to help in bad times — especially when so many people’s fates rest on huge, global, multi-national corporations and rich people who keep not creating jobs — is a crucial hallmark of civilization. In fact, our ability to form emotional bonds, work together, communicate, and form supportive communities is a big part of what sets humans above other life forms. Since conservatives claim to love Jesus Christ so much, you’d think they’d want us to love and take care of one another the way Jesus so famously taught. Instead, they envision a dark, dystopian world dominated by a sociopathic elite that either uses or crushes everyone in their path. I’d call it “social Darwinism,” except these religious zealots don’t believe anything the real Darwin says.