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November 06, 2009

In the World's Richest Country

By: Bernard Chazelle

Nearly half of all U.S. children and 90 percent of black youngsters will be on food stamps at some point during childhood.
"The current recession is likely to generate for children in the United States the greatest level of material deprivation that we will see in our professional lifetimes," Stanford pediatrician Dr. Paul Wise wrote.
The analysis is in line with other recent research suggesting that more than 40 percent of U.S. children will live in poverty or near-poverty by age 17.

It's not all bleak. Thanks to Bush and Obama, the children of Wall Street bankers can still afford their private Polo lessons.

— Bernard Chazelle

Posted at November 6, 2009 12:14 AM

Your post is very negative towards food stamps. Sure, it's bad that kids live in poverty, but if their parents have financial problems, then having food stamps is certainly a very positive thing, and that should be emphasized.

I grew up on food stamps since my parents just didn't earn enough money. And it is a great program. Also it is run much better today than 20 years ago. Back then, you had to go present the coupons to the store clerks, which took forever (everyone behind you on line huffed and puffed) and which store clerks didn't like, since they had to mail them in to redeem them. Now, food stamps are distributed through debit cards, whose balance automatically gets updated each month. Therefore, I'd say there is a lot less stigma attached to shopping with food stamps, since it no longer takes much longer than normal transactions (e.g. cash, debit card).

Posted by: asterix at November 6, 2009 01:03 AM

I don't think he had anything against food stamps, but was rather noting that they are a measure of poverty. The article mentions that a family of four must earn less than 22,000 to qualify, which is fairly low.

In other words, America is a poorer nation than most upper-middle class people realize. But I don't think that any of that means that Bernard thinks food stamps are a bad idea, but rather it's a travesty that so many people qualify at some point.

Posted by: graeme at November 6, 2009 01:46 AM

The Great Society seems to have been like one of those itty bitty towns out on the plains near my boyhood home, where if you blinked you passed through without even noticing it.

Posted by: N E at November 6, 2009 11:14 AM

I think the preferred term is 'The Worlds Largest Economy' now that we are a 'post-industrial' beggar nation.

Posted by: par4 at November 6, 2009 01:30 PM

I never comment on streams, but I have personal experience as well, and I respect this blog immensely. I was on FS while in college for a year. I needed them as I was on relief, due to joblessness, and homelessness. I was able to rent a room, and feed myself, while actually being educated. I can say that I may have been able to pay for these things myself, but only in a fulltime job, so no school. I don't need to explain here how that helps me, and the economy as a whole. I can also state that necessary frugality required me to eat filling foods, and little produce, as I had only half of what I needed for food overall(I got $80.00/mo in 1991), and I gained bad weight in that year. However, I never went hungry.

As far as now, I think we can all agree that $22k/yr for 4 people is frakking insane, no matter where you live. No one can do that w/o help. As a garden only really works outside the city, scratch urban areas for produce or hunting(which all rural poor do), and only include possible fishing for protein. the poverty level, and it's formula, has been ignored for too long at their peril. using food as a huge potion of spending%, and underestimating housing costs, is a big problem, and not adjusting for inflation EVERY year is criminal. this should go hand-in-hand w/a minimum wage adj. EVERY year. THAT is the rising tide that lifts all boats.

all of this is, of course, obvious to anyone living in the real world. but once again, an article is written, exposing a serious problem that should scare the pants off anyone reading it, with no context as to how we got here, or what are real solutions right now. thanks media. I would bet that the study goes on to discuss possible solutions, but we will never read about it, as this will go down the rabbit hole, barring a major media figure showing interest.

Posted by: Phaedreau at November 6, 2009 01:39 PM

"In other words, America is a poorer nation than most upper-middle class people realize. But I don't think that any of that means that Bernard thinks food stamps are a bad idea, but rather it's a travesty that so many people qualify at some point."

But we should realize that in Socialist European countries, mothers with children get help just because they are mothers, and so even if they are below the poverty line, it is just considered social help and not help because they are poor. Thus, it's not a travesty that people qualify. Many mothers in this country can't make enough money while they are raising kids and need the "help" that food stamps provide. I wish that we could just see it as social help for children rather than "poverty" assistance. For example, one shouldn't have to prove poverty to be able to get help raising children. I don't think it's possible for most single moms to earn enough to support their kids. That's just a common sense fact given that there are so many hours in a day. Not an indication that we are poor (although we obviously are, but this is not an indication)--that's WHY most European countries provide this kind of help.

Posted by: asterix at November 6, 2009 10:12 PM