New York City Tries To Stop People From Using Food Stamps On Soda

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg doesn’t want people getting fat off of government aid, so he’s trying to make soda and other sugary drinks ineligible for Food Stamp purchases.

The New York Times reports Bloomberg asked the United States Department of Agriculture to let the city ban its 1.7 million food stamp users from getting their soft drink on with Coke and its dastardly cousins.

The mayor has gone after soda before, having attempted to coax the state to tax sugary beverages.

How far do you think the government should go to restrict Food Stamp use?

New York Asks to Bar Use of Food Stamps to Buy Sodas [The New York Times]

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  1. Pax says:

    Even people on food stamps need “comfort food”. Just because you’re on benefits, doesn’t mean you suddenly lose the innate human need for variety and diversity of sensory stimuli.

    And sometimes, the cheapest way to cater to that need? Soda, chips, candy, and other “junk food”.

    • Erika'sPowerMinute says:

      I disagree that A) junk food is some kind of innate human need and that B) I should pay for it for others.

      • Erika'sPowerMinute says:

        {um, was supposed to be a reply to Pax….Consumerist, can we get a non-buggy commenting system? Someday? Please?)

        • Rectilinear Propagation says:

          But that was a reply to Pax. Where are you seeing it?

          • Erika'sPowerMinute says:

            Oh. Weird. I see it as a reply to Pecan. (Now I wish I could delete comments that clutter the thread : )

            • RandomHookup says:

              The indenting approach to comments leaves a lot to be desired.

              • Ahardy55 says:

                I do enjoy the responses of people who have clearly never needed government assistance. They are on food stamps, why should they ever be able to enjoy anything? Fuck it, make it “vegetable” stamps instead. And none of those fancy organic ones either. But giving millions of dollars to corporations to promote their shit products overseas with our money…that’s fine.

                • pecan 3.14159265 says:

                  It’s not about “enjoyment” – it’s a contract. Employers pay employees on the stipulation that they fulfill their duties as required and comply by a policy. Banks give loans based on the stipulation that loan takers pay them back. Everyone has to live with some kind of guideline. This isn’t supposed to be free money. If governments use taxpayer money to help others less fortunate, the government can place restrictions on how that money is used by those using it. They’re already doing it, and I don’t see how this is a problem.

                  • Pax says:

                    It’s not free.

                    You have to prove you need them, and then, you have to prove that you have no viable alternative.

                    Like in my case: I can’t improve my income, because I can’t get (and keep) a job. And that income? Is set by the government; I can’t find an alternate source for that income, either.

                    Trust me; the disability I have? The benefits it qualifies me fore in no way constitutes “free money”. I would give just about ANYTHING for a cure, that would allow me to seek actual, gainful employment.

                    I don’t have that option, however.

                    • HeroPrinny says:

                      Stop paying for internet and TV, that’ll save you some money, nor do you need them.

                    • Pax says:

                      And, ladies and gentlemen, another of the “sit in a corner and watch paint dry for the rest of yoru life” crowd.

                      FOAD to you, too.

                    • HeroPrinny says:

                      Why disabled or not, internet and TV isn’t a NEED or a RIGHT, it’s a want and an option.

                    • HeroPrinny says:

                      And oh about you being disabled and can’t ever work i call bullshit. A friend of mine is paralyzed from the waist down and only has 1 arm, and he can work. 1 arm and can’t walk or stand up and he can get a job, so why can’t you? or are you too lazy to get off of your ass and get a job and reap from the tax payer’s money?

                    • HeroPrinny says:

                      You also don’t really get the difference between earned and given. I’ve worked for years to and I am GIVEN money from the government (due to a family members injury), I didn’t EARN one penny of it.

            • jesirose says:

              Just because it’s under it doesn’t make it a reply. The indent makes it a reply. The reverse chronological ordering is confusing. Follow the indents for replies ;)

            • RandomHookup says:

              Do you think the big money cola lobbyists will let this happen? I’m sure big food producers have squashed (no pun intended) any previous efforts to limit food stamp purchases.

        • jesirose says:

          It does show up as a reply to Pax.

        • anyanka323 says:

          I know this is a touchy subject for many people and some measure of civility is much appreciated. A lot of people who probably never thought they’d ever need food stamps have had to apply for them as a result of the economy. I would bet that most of the people receiving unemployment and food stamps for the first time in the past couple years were from middle class households who took pride in being able to support themselves. Until the economy improves and more places start hiring again, there’s going to be more use of food stamps, especially in certain areas.

          One reason this site is useful is because most of the people posting on here are polite and respectful towards each other. Like others, I don’t find Pax’s comments very believable or like their tone, especially some of the harsh language.

      • Pax says:

        People do need a diverse range of sensory stimuli, to support their mental health. That includes flavors in their food and drink options. Having an occasional soda, or maybe mixing up a jug of lemonade with one or another brand of drink mix (i.e., Country Time), is an easy and relatively low-cost way to introduce some variety into a person’s menu.

        As for why you should pay for it? Because it’s a matter of public health.

        • dbeahn says:

          “Because it’s a matter of public health.”

          Bullshit. It’s a matter of you want what you want and want other people’s taxes to pay for it. It’s exactly this sort of ungrateful, entitled attitude you are displaying here that makes people feel like they’re paying taxes and that money is being thrown away.

          If your health is important to you, you wouldn’t be drinking soda, chips, candy and other junk food.

          You want a low cost way to add flavor and variety to your diet? The same $1 that buys chips or candy will buy 2 apples.

          • dragonfire81 says:

            I take two issues with your comment.

            1) I am currently working AND on food assistance so I am both paying the taxes and using the service. For the record the job is not high paying hence why I am on assistance.

            2) I’d be willing to be most people who complain about their tax dollars going to programs like this would nevertheless have little problem signing up for aid themselves if there financial situation got bad enough. You might say “that will never happen to me.” Well there are plenty of people who said that before the economy tanked a couple of years ago. Welcome to the new America.

            • dbeahn says:

              Are you getting more money a month in food stamps than you are paying in taxes? If so, then you’re not really paying taxes, since you’re getting that money back immediately.

              I have no issues with people getting assistance. I do have an issue with that money being spent in a frivolous manner.

              • dragonfire81 says:

                If I am not paying more tax than my benefits, it is definitely close. Everyone’s tax situation is unique. I use the majority of my food stamp benefits on essentials: Bread, meat, dairy, fruit, vegetables, soup, pasta, tomato sauce, orange juice, milk and so forth. Yes, I usually treat myself to a couple of junk food items, such as a bag of Oreos or some chocolate. But there are two important things to be aware of here: 1) I do not by junk food at the expense of other healthier items 2) While there are those people who do nothing but load up on frozen pizzas and doritos, there’s not as many as you probably think.

                • dbeahn says:

                  I have no issues with public assistance, and I’ve been on food stamps myself in the past. I have no issues with people using it to buy soda, if that is currently on the “approved” list (although I do think that’s a waste of funds). I do have an issue with someone like Pax acting like they have he RIGHT to buy candy and soda with the food stamps that the rest of us pay for. I see no reason that the list of approved items shouldn’t be changed to limit food stamps to the basics, and I fully support the law being changed to reflect that, no matter what Pax thinks his/her “rights” are.

            • AustinTXProgrammer says:

              I may be like the politicians that say no earmarks and then request them (Ron Paul. He gets his earmarks and then votes against the bill).

              If the government is giving away money I rightfully qualify for (IE: First time home buyer credit, although I was too quick and have to pay mine back) I am going to take it. It will offset the taxes I pay, and my taking it isn’t going to affect the overall budget.

              In other words, if they are giving away money I WILL request my proportional share (Note I didn’t say FAIR), but I can still be opposed to the giveaway.

            • Geekmom says:

              I am friends with a lot of hardworking people on foodstamps. I heard recently where I live 7 out of 10 working families are on at least some foodstamps or support. The job market here is flooded and people are desperate. I get really sick of the everyone on foodstamps are lazy white trash trailer folk or ghetto people talk. A lot of middle class crashed in to poverty in the last few years and by grace of god the lucky people haven’t joined them and look their nose down on those who did. Makes me sick.

          • Pax says:

            Bullshit. It’s a matter of you want what you want and want other people’s taxes to pay for it. It’s exactly this sort of ungrateful, entitled attitude you are displaying here that makes people feel like they’re paying taxes and that money is being thrown away.

            You know what, asshole …? Yes, I AM bloody god-damned well entitled – by dint of having worked as much and as best I could, when I could (and therefor, earning my Social Security Disability Insurance coverage).

            My parents earned it too – like my father, who was interred in bloody Arlington National Cemetery, and on whose record I do currently receive Survivor’s Benefits.

            Here’s a little clue for you: not everyone who is on food stamps, is an indigent layabout too lazy to find a job.

            If your health is important to you, you wouldn’t be drinking soda, chips, candy and other junk food.
            Not even in moderation, eh?

            You want a low cost way to add flavor and variety to your diet? The same $1 that buys chips or candy will buy 2 apples.
            Apples wouldn’t stay fresh for two weeks. And every trip to the grocery store is at least $3 in busfare.

            • dbeahn says:

              If you were ENTITLED, then it would be because you were living off Social Security and your retirement savings – meaning that you’d EARNED it. But the fact that you are using food stamps makes it pretty clear that you didn’t.

              You want soda? How about you cancel that internet service (or is that also a “mental health” “need”?) and use that money for your food?

              • Pax says:

                I get four benefits, three of them cash:

                (#1) cash: Social Security Disability Insurance. (I earned this coverage.)
                (#2) cash: Social Security Survivor’s Benefits, on my father’s record. (He earned this coverage.)
                (#3) cash: Supplemental Security Income. (Because even #1 and #2 added together, are too low to survive on.)

                and finally …

                (#4) Food Stamps. (Because even #1, #2, and #3 added together are still not enough to live on~)

                You see, not everyone getting Food Stamps is a lazy, layabout indigent bastard who CHOOSES to be unemployed. Some of us have no damned choice in the matter.

                • dbeahn says:

                  You don’t “earn” SSI. It is a social entitlement program whereby the working people of this country decided to do something to take care of the people that weren’t able to work. You don’t “earn” it any more than you “earn” an insurance settlement. You are currently *entitled* to the money under the current laws (which thanks to people like you, many working taxpayers want to see those laws changed), but that is not the same thing as “earning” the money.

                  The fact that you are twisted enough in the head to think you “earned” these things makes it clear that the soda and candy you are buying is NOT good for your mental health.

                  The social contact that goes along with that is that you aren’t going to blow the money we’re providing on crap like candy, chips and soda.

                  Clearly you have internet service, so don’t tell me about how it’s “not enough to survive on”. Cable TV, high speed internet and soda and bottled water are NOT “necessities” and not “required for good mental health”.

                  • Pax says:

                    “You don’t “earn” SSI.”

                    Yes, actually, some of us do – it’s an automatic benefit given to Social Security disability recipients, whose total benefits are lower than the SSI amount.

                    “The fact that you are twisted enough in the head to think you “earned” these things makes it clear that the soda and candy you are buying is NOT good for your mental health.”

                    I earned my coverage under the Social Security Disability Insurance program.

                    My father earned my coverage via Survivor’s Benefits. A father, I hasten to add, whose ashes are interred in Arlington National Cemetery.

                    “Clearly you have internet service, so don’t tell me about how it’s “not enough to survive on”. Cable TV, high speed internet and soda and bottled water are NOT “necessities” and not “required for good mental health”. “

                    And clearly, you’re one of the crowd that thinks that I, and anyone like me, should just sit in a corner and silently wait to die. Possibly, who even thinks we should hurry up and get on with it, in order to “decrease the surplus population”.

                    • dbeahn says:

                      “Yes, actually, some of us do – it’s an automatic benefit given to Social Security disability recipients, whose total benefits are lower than the SSI amount.”

                      As you said – GIVEN. Not “earned”. You didn’t earn it. We (those of us that work and pay taxes) GAVE it to you.

                      “And clearly, you’re one of the crowd that thinks that I, and anyone like me, should just sit in a corner and silently wait to die.”

                      I wasn’t, but you have presented a very persuasive argument, and I have changed my mind. I’m sure there are lots of other minds you have changed here today.

                    • Pax says:

                      Asshole, I worked for years. Including an enlistment in the military.

                      Since then, I have become unable to continue working, due to my current disability.

                      During the time I worked, yes, I earned my Social Security Disability Benefits. And part of those benefits is a guarantee that recipients will get at least the SSI amount, with SSI making up the difference in such cases.

                      Every dollar I get, cash or food stamps, I and my parents EARNED.

                    • dbeahn says:

                      Again, let’s also not forget that this article is about *food stamps*. Explain to me how you EARNED food stamps.

                      As far as your other benefits (and they’re called “benefits” because they ARE NOT EARNED):

                      I can only assume that your “disability” somehow prohibits you from comprehending the definitions of the words “earned”, “entitled”, “benefit” and “given”.

                    • Pax says:

                      … you’re not even worth the time to type a response. FOAD, asshole.

                    • dbeahn says:

                      The problem isn’t that I’m not worth a response, clearly if that was the case you wouldn’t have responded (and you did). The problem is that you can’t prove that “entitled” means “earned”.

                      The reason you can’t prove that is that “entitled” does NOT equal “earned”.

            • redbess says:

              Wish I could send you a private message, but I just wanted to say I’m on your side. Sorry you got flamed and bashed by a bunch of ignorant asshats who have no idea what it’s like to WANT to work and be UNABLE to work because of disability.

              Keep on keepin’ in, Pax.

        • fair_and_balanced says:

          People don’t need that.
          There is something wrong with you and you don’t deserve my tax dollars.

        • JixiLou says:

          Pax, you’ve got to be a troll. A anti-welfare troll. Because you are seriously, seriously upsetting me in that my tax dollars pay for your damn soda.

          A pay cut meant that my family gave up drinking soda (and pretty much everything fancy and expensive.) And you’re arguing that you NEED soda?

          • Elizabeth101 says:

            How is soda fancy and expensive? You can get one of those two liters bottles of WalMart brand soda for about fifty cents. I mean, if you really want soda, get it.

            • JixiLou says:

              Water is free. Juice (the good kind) gives me a serving of fruit and is healthy. Soda adds nothing to nutrition.

              • Pax says:

                Actually, my preferred brand of soda (Sunkist) …?

                One 12-oz serving, per the Nutrition Facts on the can I am drinking right now, has:

                190 calories
                70mg of Sodium (3% of the Recommended Daily Average)
                52g of Carbs (17% of the RDA)

                So, they’re not nutritionally zero.

                I didn’t eat breakfast; I rarely do, I’m just not often hungry before 11am.

                For lunch, I expect to have one 15oz. can of Beefaroni:

                480 calories
                18g Fat (36% of the RDA)
                15mg Cholesterol (10% of the RDA)
                1440mg Sodium (60% of the RDA)
                940mg Potassium (26% of the RDA)
                60g Carbs (20% of the RDA)
                18g Protien (22% of the RDA)

                And for dinner, a Stouffer’s “Three Meat” french bread pizza (the whole box):

                940 Calories
                48g Fat (76% of the RDA)
                80mg Cholesterol (26% of the RDA)
                1760mg Sodium (74% of the RDA)
                90g Carbs (30% of the RDA)
                36g Protien (44% of the RDA)

                All of it is processed food, mind. For the rest of my beverage-needs today? As always, spring water.

                The totals for my day, today?

                1,710 calories
                66g Fat (112% of the RDA)
                95mg Cholesterol (36% of the RDA)
                3,270mg Sodium (137% of the RDA)
                940mg Potassium (26% of the RDA)
                202g Carbs (67% of the RDA)
                54g Protien (66% of the RDA)

                … so. A bit much fat, but today is a “cheesier” day than usual. A lot more sodium than I’d like, but it is processed foods. I should maybe add a vegetable to my dinner plans, although, that’d push the sodium up even higher (canned veggies; it’s what I grew up on, so it’s what I like).

                The only place where I’m over the limit, and that one can of soda contributed? Sodium. And the difference is, I’ll be at 137% instead of … 134%. Meanwhile, that soda is bringing my carbs up from 50%, to 67%. So, the negative impact is minimal, and there’s (get this) actually a noticable POSITIVE impact on today’s expected nutrition.

                And the caloric intake? One calculator online sugg4sts, for my height weight age and sedentary lifestyle, I can expect to lose ~3 pounds a week, eating that much. Probably less since my diet is higher in fat-calories than woudl be ideal, but that’s still losing weight, by 1-2 pounds per week (and on that point: YAYY FOR ME).

          • Pax says:

            Is your pay cut forever …? Are you 100% certain that you will never be in a better position financially? Have you been made to give up “anything fancy and expensive” (as if a can of soda is “fancy” and/.or “expensive” regardless of brand) forever …?

            Because I’m going to be on food stamps until the day I die. That’s absolutely guaranteed, short of me winning a huge lottery jackpot. (And I bet you’d scream bloody murder about people spending “your” money to buy lottery tickets, wouldn’t you?)

            The odds of your salary improving enough to afford occasional, small luxury foods in the next 6-12 months, are a LOT better than the chances of me winning the lottery in the next 6-12 years, even if I play two $1 tickets, every single day.

            IOW: your lack of soda is temporary, that is to say, fleeting. Mine, OTOH, would become permanent and forever, if this sort of ban were to become widespread.

            And therein, my dear, lies the crux of the issue. Why should I, or someone like me, be denied any luxury or comfort foods forever, due to circumstances quite literally beyond our control and without any real chance of improvement …?

            You don’t think I CHOSE to be disabled, do you …?

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      I think you’re overstating it just a little. People do like to indulge once in a while in empty calories and junk food, but many people on public assistance are already behind in terms of nutritional gains and income. The goal here should be that they focus on using these resources more efficiently to provide more and better nutrition for their families. Kids especially need to get more nutrition from their food. Perhaps a limitation on the amount of soda one can buy is a better tactic rather than an outright ban.

      • fsnuffer says:

        The goal is once you become dependent on the government for anything bureaucrats cannot resist the urge to start molding you into what they believe you should be (but not what they do). Is this the biggest issue we face within the food stamp program? NO! How about rooting out the fraud and inefficiencies. This freakin government nanny mentality is getting out of control. I WANT MY HAPPY MEAL TOY!

        • justagigilo85 says:

          In this case, it’s not. You’re living off their(or our) money, they(we) should be allowed to tell you how to spend it.

      • Pax says:

        If they have children, then they’re not just getting Food Stamps, they’re also getting AFDC (“Aid to Families with Dependent Children”). Which DOES come in the form of product-specific vouchers (“2 gallons of milk; 4 loaves of bread; (etc)”, that sort of thing). So the nutritional needs of their kids is covered.

        • jessjj347 says:

          Programs like “AFDC” vary from state to state.
          The only benefit I can think of that specifies which food can be bought that is federal is WIC.

          • Pax says:

            That may be the program I was thinking of, then. I don’t have kids, so I don’t qualify for any of them anyway.

        • The Porkchop Express says:

          so…you just want soda and everybody and everything else be damned?

          Great so the kiddies get milk and bread…and soda. Veggies? Fruit? Meat? any of that ring a bell? you know adults should eat this shit too right?

    • humphrmi says:

      Then they can pay for it themselves.

      • Pax says:

        With what money, exactly?

        And then, where do you draw the line? Should we prevent anyone on food stamps from buying, say, a cake mix and frosting (for their child’s birthday party) …?

        And, by the by, by “they” … we’re both talking about a group that includes myself. I subsist on Social Security benefits; my monthly cash benefit total is just over $700. I don’t exactly have a lot of “wiggle room” in my budget. And for me, soda is now a treat – one 12oz can per day, tops. And yes, I buy that soda, about two 12-packs a month for about $4/pack, with my food stamps. OH NOES, what a horrible thing to do!!

        • dbeahn says:

          And there in lies the problem. Soda, treat or not, is NOT a good value. Do I understand why you like it? Yes. Can you understand why *I* would much rather pay less in taxes, even if it means you don’t get your soda?

          I’m OK with this. Food stamps are not meant to provide people with comfort food. They are meant to provide people with basic foods to prevent them from starving to death.

          Comfort food is NOT a “need” it is a luxury.

          • Geekmom says:

            Yes how dare the poor have a little bit of cheap luxury! Bastards are eating all our food!
            If they have foodstamps they should only have the minimum nutrition to survive!

            Hurray for gruel!

            • 99 1/2 Days says:

              What a false dichotomy, unless somehow nutritious food without empty calories is a secondary meaning for “gruel.”

              • Pax says:

                “What a false dichotomy, unless somehow nutritious food without empty calories is a secondary meaning for “gruel.””

                Spices have no nutritional value; neither do seasonings. Should we block Food Stamps from buying cinnamon, thyme, salt, pepper, oregano, etc …?

                Which, by extension, leads us to ask “is ANY flavoring substance appropriate for Food Stamps to buy?”

                If nutrition is the ONLY guideline, if flavor is completely out of the question, then … yes, in fact, eventually the range of options might be reduced down to … gruel.

          • Elizabeth101 says:

            Fine. I will happily give every disabled person in my community $2 of my “hard earned money” so they can enjoy a couple of sodas. Then people like you can keep your money and your whiny-ass attitude. Way to be a human.

        • Das G says:

          Drink water.

          • Pax says:

            Actually, most of the time, I do. But since:

            (a) the local tapwater is horrendous;

            – and –

            (b) food stamps doesn’t pay for water filters;

            … well, the water is store-bought too.

            And, get this: I buy one 12-pack of soda (12oz cans) every two weeks. They cost me $4 per pack, unless I get lucky and they’re on sale (typically, 2/$5). Are you REALLY going to begrudge me $5 to $8 a month on soda?

            • terrillja says:

              Given the number of people on food stamps, yes. It adds up.

            • FrugalFreak says:

              You can’t win PAX, they resent that taxpayer dollars fund social security, but they forget that those tax dollars were also yours that you paid in. They have too much resentment over taxes to care.

              • dbeahn says:

                We’re talking about FOOD STAMPS – not Social Security.

                And yes, given that a lot of working people in this economy have had to cut things like soda, chips, candy and other “junk food” out of their diet because of budget issues (Pax doesn’t seem to care about the mental health of those of us that work, just the mental health of those getting tax payer funded assistance) sure SHOULD be resentful of people that are spending their tax money on crap like chips and soda.

                • Pax says:

                  Except, I get food stamps BECAUSE I also get Social Security.

                  You really can’t talk about one, without considering the other.

                  • dbeahn says:

                    So you are saying that since that is how it works for YOU, therefore EVERYONE that gets food stamps also gets Social Security and the other way around, too?

                    Sorry, no. You’ve made it clear to the rest of us that you are a lazy layabout that is scamming taxpayers out of hard earned money. Since you contribute nothing to society except demands that we all buy you things you don’t need, because you think you “earned” them by being born.

                    • Pax says:

                      “So you are saying that since that is how it works for YOU, therefore EVERYONE that gets food stamps also gets Social Security and the other way around, too?”

                      No. But you, and the others trumpeting the same “bash the poor” horn, are suggesting that all of us on food stamps are scamming, lazy bastards who just don’t want to work.

                      As your very next words themselves prove:

                      “You’ve made it clear to the rest of us that you are a lazy layabout that is scamming taxpayers out of hard earned money.”

                      And, you might want to be a bit more careful in your choice of words, because that statement treads perilously close to actionable Defamation.

                      “[...] you think you “earned” them by being born.”

                      No, I earned them by WORKING, thank you. Including enlisting in the armed forces.

                      My father earned his coverage (under which I do make a small claim) by WORKING, including serving in uniform, hence being interred in Arlington.

                      And when my mother passes, I’ll make a claim through her record as well (as the law REQUIRES me to – part and parcel of being on SSI), for coverage she earned by WORKING.

                      … do you not understand what Social Security Disability INSURANCE is all about?

                      When you apply for SSDI, they compare your age at the time of application, to how many “credits” you’ve earned – specifically, how many quarters you were employed during, and earned a minimum dollar amount. The older you are, the more credits you need to qualify. If you don’t have enough, your application dies right there – and no appeal is possible.

                      So the mere fact that I say I earned my Social Security Disability Insurance, means that I am entitled because I WORKED to earn that coverage. It can mean no other thing.

                    • dbeahn says:

                      “So the mere fact that I say I earned my Social Security Disability Insurance, means that I am entitled because I WORKED to earn that coverage. It can mean no other thing.”

                      So the mere fact that you say it therefore makes it so. Clearly, whatever it is, it is some sort of mental disability if you believe that because you say it means it is truth.

                    • Coelacanth says:

                      Pax -

                      If you haven’t done so already, you may wish to look into starting a blog about these types of issues. It could even turn into a small revenue stream over time if you’re able to try it. It sounds like you may have the time and wherewithall to see it through.

                      Also in its nascent stages, it’s unlikely to earn you enough to disqualify you for benefits, but it might grant you some pocket change.

                      Then again, you probably already considered this.

                    • Pax says:

                      Then again, you probably already considered this.

                      I have. I’v econsidered a greatmany things.

                      But the way Social Security is set up, is pretty punitive in terms of people trying to find a way off those benefits. And it’s the very sort of people who’re screaming about how “THEIR money” is or is not spent by benefits-recipients, who have caused the system to be set up this way.

                      Now, I haven’t looked at these benefit-reduction rates in ten years, because I did the math for myself LONG ago, but to the best of my recollection:

                      Let’s say I did start some sort of work-from-home business, and it was modestly successful – bringing in just $400/month, before taxes or expenses. Do you know what would happen to my benefits?

                      $1 off of my SSI for every gross dollar gained. Yes, a 1-for-1 reduction. Luckily, that’s only about $70/month.

                      The next $330? $2 off my SSDI and Survivor’s benefits, for every three dollars earned, and again, gross. That’d be another $220 off the top of my income.

                      Now, let’s pay taxes on that income. I don’t know what the exact rate would be; full-on income taxes are generally ~30% here in Massachusetts. Let’s assume, though, for the same of examination, that I would pay about 20% in taxes (accounting for the bottom tax bracket, as well as all deductions etc I might be able to apply that over-ran my benefits amount). So, I’m only getting $320 from that blog.

                      Oh, and here’s the first kicker: my rent, being subsidised, is based on gross income, not post-tax net income. So my gross income goes up by $400 (blog), then down by $290 (benefit reductions) … resulting in a gross increase of $110. My rent is 30% of that gross, so, it would go up by $33.

                      And, as for my NET income? It went up by $320 (blog), then down by $290 (benefit reductions), for a net change of +$30.

                      $30, minus $33, is … negative $3.

                      BUT WAIT, it gets worse: then my FOOD STAMPS are recalculated, based on (a) my new gross income, and (B) my new rent. Keep in mind, my gross income went up a lot more than my net rent did. The result would be a loss of, say, $20 or $30 in food stamps, putting me further into the hole. And, I still have to pay the new bills that blog entails: web-hosting, advertising (no blog is going to become widely-read, if it doesn’t advertise it’s existence), and I honestly don’t know what else.

                      So, at this juncture, I’ve already LOST, say … fifty dollars from my monthly income. Where’s the motivation to do this, again? If your employer said “I want you to work an extra hour a day, and you have to pay ME $10 for that extra hour, rather than collecting your own pay” … I seriously doubt you’d do it. Mainly, because I honestly think you’e sane.

                      Benefits are a trap.

                      Recipients are punished for trying to work “as much as they can“. I could probably hold down a 10-hour-per-week job – but that would almost certainly be a minimum-wage job, paying (here in Massachusetts) $8/hour, for a gross of $80/week, or (wait for it) just under $350/month. And then there’d be the expenses the job would entail (i.e., transportation) to account for; I’d be working for – compared to NOT working at all – nothing at all. Quit epossibly, in the net, I’d end up paying for the privilege of working.

                      The system is a mess.

                      And it’s a mess because of the “how dare you spend MY money that way, yu lazy worthless fuck” people out there. They don’t want to see someone who is disabled enough they cannot be gainfully employed, be employed AT ALL. People who focus more on the “they get ___ without earning it” side of things, and cannot or will not look at what said person HAS given up without a choice. Who are somehow intrinsicly unable to see that being disabled – physically, mentally, or otherwise – is onerous enough, that there is simply no way in hell benefits, even if they were DOUBLED tomorrow, could possibly truly compensate for what is lost.

                      And so, of course, they created a system that fulfills their own direst predictions: people “don’t want to work and get off benefits”.

                      Not due to laziness, of course. But simply because it’s too easy to lose those benefits (and never get them back) for even trying to return to the workforce.

                      Now, if the system were set up so that the first, say, $200/month of gross income from working just didn’t count towards reducing core benefits? And if the next, say, $400/month of gross income only counted HALF as much as presently ($1 off SSI for every $2 earned, $1 off SSDI/etc for every $3 earned) …? And peg my subsidised rent and my foodstamps to my POSt-TAX income?

                      SIGN. ME. UP.

                      10 hours a week working at Wal-Mart for minimum wage, I’d do it in a heartbeat. That same $350/month gross, well the first $200 doesn’t count, the next $150 only costs me $75 from my benefits (all of my SSI, and $5 of my SSDI/etc). So, even after taxes (again, guesstimate 20%), my monthly income woudl come to $205 more than it is now. $60 of that to rent, $20 or $30 to food stamps, and guess what? I’d still be ahead by $110.

                      Sure, $110/month post-taxes means I’m only bringing home (at 43.334 hours per month) something like $2.60/hour. But at least, that’s a POSITIVE number!!

                    • AustinTXProgrammer says:

                      I am somewhat familiar with SSDI (It doesn’t take into account spousal income, it is insurance) since my wife gets it. I will take your word for the SSI entirely, I don’t have that knowledge. I don’t recall the reductions for SSDI being quite the way you are saying. They ARE messed up. There is a magic number and if you earn more than that (after disability related work expenses, which can be deducted for these purposes) your benefits go away. This number was not based on the benefit amount but an arbitrary number that qualified as gainful employment. For someone who was in a high paying job prior to becoming disabled it would likely have been lower than the benefit amount!

                      My wife could have gone to work making $600/mo and been ahead,but a raise to $700 would have put her $500 behind where she was before.

                      The system needs to have a reasonable phase out. I will agree. I will also say that directed benefits shouldn’t be used for soda. And in regards to the earlier entitlement stuff. The only benefit that you are truly entitled too is the SSDI. SSI, housing assistance, food stamps, those all come from the rest of the tax payers as a safety net. However I don’t think even the most Libertarian people I know what to kick the disabled out on the street.

                      And we pay pretty hefty income taxes on my wife’s SSDI.

                    • Pax says:

                      “The only benefit that you are truly entitled too is the SSDI.”

                      Not entirely true.

                      My “Children’s Survivor’s Benefits”, I am entitled to because my father (buried with military honors, in Arlington National Cemetery) earned them.

                      The SSI amount, I am entitled to because the very laws which define SSDI, specify that any SSDI recipient automatically qualifies for SSI payments, if their cumulative Social Security benefits are less than the SSI amount.

                      As for the rest, we shall have to just politely agree to disagree on that. Since my eligibility for those benefits is dependant upon my receiving SSDI, I see them as part of my SSDI benefits (and if such programs weren’t available, SSDI payments would have to increase to make up for the difference, because without subsidised housing, SSI, and food stamps … SSDI, even with survivors’ benefits onmy father’s account, just would not be a survivable income level). Thus, I see them as earned, at least in my specific case. :)

                      “And we pay pretty hefty income taxes on my wife’s SSDI.”

                      She must be getting the kind of benefits that I only WISH I qualified for.

                      Between SSDI, CSB, and SSI … I get ~$720/month. (It would be nearly $100 higher, if I were living alone – but they tag you with a “shared living expenses” reduction for living with 1 or more other people, as I’m sure you or your wife knows. And it sucks when BOTH people are on benefits, so BOTH get tagged with the same reduction.)

                      My annual benefits are only ~$8,640. My $116 in food stamps – as augmented by Massachusetts – adds another $1,392 to that, for a total of about $10,032/year.

                      Compare that to the Federal Poverty Guideline for 2010, which lists a single-person family at $10,830.

                      A minimum-wage job, which is $8/hour here, at 40 hours per week and all 52 weeks of the year (no unpaid holidays or vacations allowed) …? Grosses $16,640. Even after 25% total taxes, that comes to $12,480. Almost twenty-five hundred dollars more, per year, than my benefits. (The problem of my rent being based on Gross rather than net, still remains, of course – but that’d still be cheaper than renting in the private market).

                      If I could secure a job that grossed, say, $15/hour? I’d net ~$23K a year, and I’ be in absolute HEAVEN compared to now. I WANT to be able to work, and earn that kind of money. I’d give up MAJOR BODY PARTS for the option!

                      If only all the nay-sayers and “not with MY money, you bum” people could see that – instead of just assuming “on benefits” = “lazy”.

            • fair_and_balanced says:

              You are buying store bought water. WTF, WTF, WTF?????????????

              We need to stop wasting our tax dollars on people like you.

          • Yentaleh says:

            I drink water with fresh squeezed lemon juice and a pinch of sugar. Thats about as far as I go with regards to “sugary drinks”. (Besides it taste better too!)

        • Talisker says:

          Why buy cake mix and frosting? Just buy flour, sugar, eggs, butter, powdered sugar and something like vanilla or baker’s chocolate and you can make your own cake. Plus you have most of what you need to also make cookies, breakfast, bread, or biscuits. Their dollars would stretch further.

        • Alvis says:

          Something you take every day isn’t really a “treat”

        • theycallmeGinger says:

          Nobody needs comfort food, sorry. People need sustenance to live, but they don’t need a fucking soda or chips or any other junk food. When you want something, you have to pay for it. In this world, a person should feel fortunate enough that their gov’t gives assistance for the things they need. Abusing it jeopardizes the program altogether.

          I’m so glad they’re cracking down on this so it can be a more successful program and help more people. Too bad it’s only focused on soda.

          • Pax says:

            For all of mankind, survival and subsistence have, simply, NEVER been enough.

            This isn’t just a matter of “want”, either. It truly is need – for htepurposes of maintaining mental health.

            • theycallmeGinger says:

              OK, you must be trolling. I thought so at first, but your story made me believe you were telling the truth. Your ridiculous comments and messed up perspective are proving that you are a troll. You must have nothing else to do all day but spout your bullshit and wait for comments. I’m an idiot for falling for your nutty and illogical ramblings (and overuse of bold and italic tags).

            • pecan 3.14159265 says:

              What is NEEDED and what is WANTED sometimes get confused. If junk food is what you consider to be necessary as part of overall mental health, I think your idea of what aids in mental health is skewed. Just because it makes you feel better doesn’t mean it’s actually good for you.

          • terrillja says:

            If you need soda to maintain your mental heath, you have a lot bigger issue going on.

        • fair_and_balanced says:

          Y r hrrbl prsn nd y dfntl d nt dsrv ssstnc. t s crz tht ppl n ssstnc thnk th cn jst b jnk fd. f y wnt jnk fd thn gt jb t mcdnlds. Y r dck.

          • Pax says:

            “You are a horrible person and you definately do not deserve assistance.”
            A panel of medical experts disagree with you.

            They’re doctors. You’re just some schmoe. Guess whose opinion on the matter (rightly) carries more weight?

            If you want junk food then get a job at mcdonalds.”

            Permanently disabled. No, not even McDonalds is an option.

            Besides which – at $8/hour (the minimum wage here in Massachusetts), and even if I got a true full-time job at 40 hours per week? That’s a gross of $320/week; income taxes will suck out 25% of that, leaving $240. At four and one-third weeks per month, that’s $1,040/month.

            Now, let’s pay for transportation daily – and that means a car, because the local bus system stops operating after 7pm, and doesn’t run on Sundays at all. Gas, insurance (and MA has a pretty high level of compulsory insurance), reasonable preventive maintenance, the occasional repair and the cost of the car itself? Let’s be very conservative and say it all averages to $100/month.

            Great. $940/month. And guess what? CHEAP rent around here? $800/month, and it’ll literally be a roach-ridden slum apartment. Trust me, I lived in one of them for five years, and five years ago, it went up to $800/month. I wouldn’t be surprised if the bastard is charging $1K/month for that place, now. A tiny one-bedroom place with insufficient heat, ZERO insulation, a leaking not-even-air-tight roof, the whole nine yards.

            But that’d eb my only option, because if not disabled or retired, you can’t stay in the subsidised apartment I’m currently sitting in.

            So, Awesome. Now I’m left with … $140 for food, lights, heat&cooking fuel, clothes, everything.

            So I’d wind up right back on the Food Stamps program. Probably, I’d be getting MORE of them per month, than I do now.

            So, inability to work aside … that didn’t turn out so well for your side of the issue, now, did it??

            “You are a dick.”

            I’d tell you to suck mine, but I don’t like you that much.

            • dbeahn says:

              So what? Lots and lots of people DO live like that – and THEY ARE THE ONES THAT PAY THE TAXES YOU ARE LIVING ON.

              So you’re too good to live at such a level, but you’ll happily take from the people that do so you can buy soda, candy and junk food.

              “A panel of medical experts disagree with you.”

              And that same panel disagrees with you that soda is needed for mental health.

              I’m with the rest of these people. If you can spend this much time typing on the internet, you can work. Once you start paying taxes, you can talk about how they should be spent.

              • Pax says:

                “So what? Lots and lots of people DO live like that [...]“

                Without receiving some of the very benefits you’re looking to control?

                Bullshit.

                • Elizabeth101 says:

                  All right – I have come out of troll mode and registered an account at this site to respond to this thread. Seriously, some of us in the US are still quite happy to be members of a society with a social contract. If I ever become disabled, I will happily partake of the care that is available to me through that contract. And I will expect to be treated humanely by other members of tha society.

                  To those that are soooooooooo quick to say that they don’t want “their money” spent on someone else’s comfort, please pack your bags and move to the middle of nowhere and be responsible for no one but yourself. Don’t call the police if someone pulls a gun on you. Don’t call the fire department when your house is burning. And for God’s sake, don’t send your children to be educated in our public schools. GO.

                  Maybe then the rest of us can get on with the business of being civilized.

          • Elizabeth101 says:

            Yeah. You spelled definitely wrong.

          • redbess says:

            Fck y. Jst … fck y.

          • BD2008 says:

            Pax has said nothing here that merit’s his being called a “dick”.

            Who is anyone to tell a person receiving government assistance what food they can spend their money on? I can guarantee that buying junk food is a hell of a lot cheaper than buying healthy alternatives. I am more concerned about that than the fact that tax money is being spent on it.

            Where is the humanity in this thread?

        • 99 1/2 Days says:

          I can’t afford canned soda. Woe is me.

        • DcChick says:

          I don’t really care that you are disabled. What I care about is you being mean and nasty. Your very obviously out of whack sense of entitlement is almost comical.

          Since a panel of wizards had to declare you disabled, you’re probably borderline. I had carpel tunnel surgery a few years back, it sucked. During my exit exam the doctor told me that due to all the issues he’s classifying me as 14% total body disabled and he *asked me* if I felt he should bump it 1% so that I would qualify for disability. At 33, I didn’t want to be a complete mooch so he kept it at 14% and I went about my business. Sounds like you did the opposite then had to fight for it in court. How very American.

          • Pax says:

            “I don’t really care that you are disabled.”

            I love you, too.

            “Since a panel of wizards had to declare you disabled, you’re probably borderline.”

            Nice try.

            That panel, actually, is the standard procedure by which someone is approved for Social Security benefits. (The alternative is to take the government to court.)

            You could be blind, quadriplegic, and hooked up to six tons of life support equipment … and your case would end up going through the same review process, involving the same panel (albeit, the people on each panel differ from case to case, of course).

            “Sounds like you did the opposite then had to fight for it in court. How very American.”

            You obviously have no clue how the system works. If I’d had to go to court, then it would be because that panel said I wasn’t qualified, and I elected to fight it. There would have been me, my lawyer, the Social Security Administration’s lawyers, and maybe 1 or 2 expert witnesses.

            And a Judge. Whose sole determination would decide the entire case.

            I never had to go in front of a judge, though, because the panel – who review and decide EVERY. SINGLE. CASE. – said I was qualified. So definitely, not borderline.

            But, hey – never mind the doctors who decided I was disabled; you, with your Great Wizardly Insight (and absolute ignorance to how the system works), have magically decreed me “probably borderline” … so that must be the truth, right?

    • aja175 says:

      I’m not on food stamps and I don’t need soda to live a comfortable and fulfilling life. Why do those who enjoy the fruits of my labor need it?

      • JustARandomThought says:

        Well maybe because they can not escape and go to a movie, on a vacation, or any other thing that occupies ones time. Isn’t that why he prices of chicken wings went up because it is a cheap treat, so the demand rose as things got worse. People downgraded, it’s a soda instead of a dinner out for example.

        And about the fruits of your labor, they could use my tax money better then wasting it on all the other garbage. In an ideal world our welfare system would use cash transfers. Since people know what is best for them. It’s not just about surviving until tomorrow, you need a bit of lives joys or else why live?

        • shawnamuffin says:

          George Orwell talked about this in his book about the British working class, _The Road to Wigan Pier_. He realized that poor people need treats to feel happy. But he also said that allowing government assistance to provide those treats is counteractive because they decrease the poor’s willingness to 1) start a revolution or 2) make their lives batter themselves.

        • 99 1/2 Days says:

          I don’t go to the movies, or buy 12 packs of soda. Those items are not in my budget. I have internet and the public library. So do the people who are on assistance who are posting here. But they need more, they need their candy bars and canned soda, and I’m a coldhearted bitch for not giving them that. In fact, they might as well kill themselves if they don’t get their damned name brand sodas.

          Unbelievable.

    • chefguru says:

      If the rest of the city is paying for you to be able to eat and survive, then the LEAST you should be able to do, if you NEED an occasional soda for “comfort”, is to be able to scrape together $1 to buy one from a vending machine.

    • FrugalFreak says:

      Just buy juice, same sugar. If it is healthy for babies on WIC, then it’s healthy for you. Right?

    • RunawayJim says:

      You really don’t know what you’re talking about. I read all your posts in this thread and you’re clearly clueless on “public health” and needs vs wants.

      No one needs soda, chips, candy, and other “junk food”. End of story, no argument, nothing you can suggest will change that FACT.

      Here’s the deal, if you are in need of assistance to live, you should only be using that assistance for NECESSITIES. Junk food, including soda, chips and candy, are absolutely NOT necessities and in no way contribute to better public health, no matter how you try to spin it. Government assistance is supposed to help people live, not live comfortably. If you want to live comfortably, work towards making more money.

      If you need junk food to improve your mental health, you’re not doing it right. Any mental health expert will tell you that. In fact, junk food may actually impair your mental health. And any public health expert will tell you that junk food is just plain bad for public health, considering the obesity problems in this country.

      As someone who shops at the discount food store on a somewhat regular basis (though I try to avoid the first of the month), I see people using their food stamps to buy nothing but processed crap and junk food. They don’t buy anything health. The issue is not about public or mental health. The issue is about people only buying stuff that is just plain bad for them and their children with their food stamps. Bloomberg is right to do this. In fact, it should be a law everywhere. You wanna see something bad for mental health? Try being the grossly obese 5th grader the size of an NFL linebacker… only instead of muscle, it’s all fat. That’s pretty bad for mental health.

      • shawnamuffin says:

        Well said.

      • Pax says:

        “If you want to live comfortably, work towards making more money.”

        What part of permanently disabled did you not understand, in all those posts you read?

        I’m not unemployed because I don’t want to work, I am unemployed because I cannot work.

        Don’t ask how or why; it’s frankly none of your business. Suffice it to say that a panel of over ten degree’d and licensed experts agreed that I was, and would for the forseeable future remain, unable to secure and retain gainful employment. And unless you have an entire raft-load of degrees (including, at least, an M.D.), you’re simply not in a position to dispute that finding.

        “As someone who shops at the discount food store on a somewhat regular basis (though I try to avoid the first of the month), I see people using their food stamps to buy nothing but processed crap and junk food. They don’t buy anything health. The issue is not about public or mental health. The issue is about people only buying stuff that is just plain bad for them and their children with their food stamps.”

        And so enters the Nanny State – roling right on down that proverbial Road to Hell, with it’s pavement of Good Intentions, funded from the Righteous, and so on and so forth.

        • 99 1/2 Days says:

          Don’t complain about “nanny state” when you are at the teat.

          • Pax says:

            … my alternative is suicide. Is that what you wish to advocate?

            • Verucalise (Est.February2008) says:

              Pax, it’s alright. I’m the same way- I love my diet pepsi, and little splurges. If I were on food stamps, I would still buy them. I buy all sorts of healthy stuff for my family, but the occasional 2 liter of soda, or chips isn’t a deal breaker. It’s the people that SOLELY live off of this shit that makes people like you and I get a bad name. And I understand your position- my daughter is disabled. We’ve made it thru some tough times ourselves, and in those instances we cut back the non-essentials to make it thru. Keep smiling :)

            • dbeahn says:

              Your choices are irrelevant to this discussion – and you can always contact private charities before you decide to off yourself, that’s a choice you’d be making.

              The point is that the nanny state is the entire reason you have whatever income you have. 100 years ago, you’d have had nothing. There are people in this country that feel that it is the place of religion, not government, to provide for the disabled. Up until yesterday, I was NOT one of them, but your level of entitlement demends and utter lack of appreciation is really forcing me to reconsider.

              • Pax says:

                “The point is that the nanny state is the entire reason you have whatever income you have. 100 years ago, you’d have had nothing.”

                Well, the OTHER other alternative is … I turn to a life of crime. Which, 100 years ago, is what my real option would have been.

                • dbeahn says:

                  If you’re healthy enough to commit crimes (and you seem to be saying that you are) then you’re healthy enough to work.

                  That’s the real choice – 100 years ago, you’d be working around whatever your problem is.

                  To be honest, the issue I have doesn’t really apply to people on disability. I do, however, have a problem with people that go on public assistance but then don’t make any changes to their budget. They have cable (including the HBO package) and still buy 2 cases of coke, twinkies, etc and buy all name brands, because they’re “too good” to eat generics.

                  LEARN how to budget! Cut out some luxuries. If you’ve arrived at a point where you’re between jobs or whatever and need food stamps, I don’t think it’s unreasonable for the rest of us to expect you to spend that assistance wisely.

                  There may need to be a secondary program for long term food stamp assistance. I’m OK with that idea.

                  • Pax says:

                    “If you’re healthy enough to commit crimes (and you seem to be saying that you are) then you’re healthy enough to work.”

                    Nope. And you, sir, are (thank god) neither medically nor legally qualified to make that determination. Nor are any of the other “how dare you” yahoos around here.

                    You don’t have to be particularly healthy (just mobile, without assistance) to hold up a convenience store with a gun.

                    You don’t have to be particularly healthy (just mobile, without assistance) to break into a home while the occupants are at work/school.

                    You don’t have to be particularly healthy (just mobile, without assistance) to deal drugs.

          • Snaptastic says:

            THIS.

        • colorisnteverything says:

          As someone who case managed medicaid clients, I get it. I also am getting a PhD and studying health policy, so I know what it is like. You say that you are permanently disabled and I can understand that. If I was not able to control one of my many medical conditions, I would also be on disability. However, while I very much sympathize with you, I see no reason for anyone to drink pop. It is BEYOND expensive. You don’t need it to live. And sure, if you are like me (living on a stipend and fellowship that are generous for grad school, but NOT generous for the real world) you spend money on nutritional needs and look at things like pop and candy as treats. They are definitely WANTS not NEEDS. I love red wine and it makes me happy, but I don’t NEED it to survive. I don’t need my organic yogurt either, but I budge for it. And if I couldn’t, I wouldn’t buy it. We are ALL on fixed incomes.

          If you can’t budget it in, you don’t need it. And if you want to talk about the nanny state, the whole disability process is pretty dehumanizing. I can’t believe you didn’t address this. It is very difficult to get approved (as you noted in another comment) and also sorts of uncomfortable questions are asked. That, in my mind, is more frustrating than a can of pop!

        • Chaosium says:

          So use your fixed income, not your food stamps for your dessert indulgences, mr “nanny state” Ayn Rand devotee.

        • 3skr1mad0r says:

          I have to agree with you on that. Who’s to say what is deemed healthy and what isn’t? Is a microwave meal of Turkey, mashed potatoes, and green beans healthy? Many will say “No” due to the amount of sodium and other preservatives present. Its sad to say but barring raw ingredients, usually the cheapest food is also the worst for you.
          Yes I will admit a lot of these items may be considered luxuries. I truly believe that having them once in awhile makes for a healthier persona though. Can people on assistance then not be able to buy a box of cake mix for their child’s birthday? If you are talking about sugar to volume ratios, a carrot cake wouldn’t even qualify. No candy cane at Christmas?

    • TheGreySpectre says:

      You don’t “need” comfort food. You need nutrients. I you avoid “comfort food” for a while, you would be surprised how easy it is to continue avoiding it. There is no reason for people to be buying processed crap when they are on food stamps. You can make more nutritious, more filling food that tastes better and is cheaper with fresh vegetables.

    • fair_and_balanced says:

      Niope you are crazy.
      People with food stamps should be strictly limited to the food they can buy.

      I used to work at walgreens and these trashy people would buy large bags of potato chips, 2 liters of pop and candy. It was soooo wrong that our tax money paid for that.

    • JakeChance says:

      Yeah Pax, you should really listen to the tons of replies you go. Food stamps are to help those in need eat real food with real nutrients. There is nothing beneficial about junk food (hence the telltale “junk” moniker) and should not be available via govt aid.

      People should always have the freedom to purchase substances so devoid of value but the key here is that they have the right to purchase them. They don’t have the right to have the govt purchase this crap for them. The people actually effected by this may end up being healthier than you in the long run. This is entirely for their benefit as the state wouldn’t be saving any money, just keeping their aid from being misused and further damaging society.

      • Pax says:

        “Yeah Pax, you should really listen to the tons of replies you go. Food stamps are to help those in need eat real food with real nutrients. There is nothing beneficial about junk food (hence the telltale “junk” moniker) and should not be available via govt aid.

        That bolded part – do you intend it to include cash benefits?

        Because, if so … over your dead body. I refuse to live on bare-subsistence with no luxuries whatsoever, for the rest of my (then-miserable) life – and I am permanently disabled, and therefor permanently reliant on government aid.

        • Lord Percival Q. Pennyfeather, III says:

          “I refuse to live on bare-subsistence with no luxuries whatsoever”

          Okay, so you refuse. Now what?

          • Coelacanth says:

            That’s a false choice. We don’t live in a society in which the people in the lowest classes are completely denied all indulgences.

            I also firmly believe there’s a huge difference between a person who’d love in good faith to work, but simply can’t because of misfortune, and the person who’s capable of leading a productive life without public assistance and simply chooses not to. The first deserves our compassion, the second group – less so.

            Pray you or anyone you care about are never on disability.

            • Lord Percival Q. Pennyfeather, III says:

              “We don’t live in a society in which the people in the lowest classes are completely denied all indulgences.”

              Agreed. No one is denied anything, ever. The issue is what everyone — via the government — should *provide* to every human being. In the instant case, we’re arguing over soda entitlements.

              If the “lowest classes” are entitled to soda, isn’t everyone? Should those who make too much receive food stamps receive some sort of tax credit or voucher if they find their budget to be too tight to buy soda?

              “I also firmly believe there’s a huge difference between a person who’d love in good faith to work, but simply can’t because of misfortune, and the person who’s capable of leading a productive life without public assistance and simply chooses not to. The first deserves our compassion, the second group – less so.”

              I agree 100%.

              “Pray you or anyone you care about are never on disability.”

              Seriously, I, in effect, do that every night.

              • Pax says:

                “Agreed. No one is denied anything, ever. The issue is what everyone — via the government — should *provide* to every human being.”

                But, here’s the thing: first food stamps, then cash benefits. And for many of us, “government assistance” is our only source of money, of any kind, for any purpose.

                “If the “lowest classes” are entitled to soda, isn’t everyone? Should those who make too much receive food stamps receive some sort of tax credit or voucher if they find their budget to be too tight to buy soda?”

                No, not necessarily. Just because it’s wrong to deny those reliant upon benefits the choice to get helathy food, or junk food, does not mean that everyone should find their junk food being subsidised.

                If you’re making enough not to need food stamps, but can’t afford soda? Look at your life, and figure out what OTHER luxuries you’re spending your money on, and realise you chose WHICH luxury to enjoy.

                Do you smoke? That’s a luxury, and not an inexpensive one.

                Do you go to the cinema once or twice a month? At $15 to $20 per peson (ticket, drink, maybe a popcorn), that’s an expensive luxury.

                Do you order out for pizza once or twice a month? Luxury.

                Now look at those, and decide which is/are more important to you. If having a modest amount of soda in the house is more important to you than, say, going to the cinema once a month … change how you spend that money.

                I’ve had to do these things myself, repeatedly. I’ve been attacked – in the comments for this very article – for even having an internet connection. Well, let me tell you: the internet is the cheapest entertainment source around. Blogs, forums, and so forth – they can provide hours upon hours of diversion, day after day, for years.

                Nevermind, of course, how much business is conducted over the internet nowadays.

                “I agree 100%.”

                ^_^

                • dbeahn says:

                  “Nevermind, of course, how much business is conducted over the internet nowadays.”

                  So are you now admitting that you COULD earn a living conducting business over the internet, but instead choose to live off the tax payers?

                  • JixiLou says:

                    Maybe, if you have time to argue that SODA is a life-sustaining necessity, you could find a job doing something online.

                    • Pax says:

                      Miraculously cure my (permanent and incurable) disability.

                      Then fix the global economy, so that there ARE jobs to find.

                      When you’ve done both of those, I’ll gladly get a job. Hell, I’ll get two!! Every single PENNY past my current standard-of-living, I’ll put aside to repay EVERY last fraction of a cent that has EVER been spent on me, by the government. From the instant of my birth! I’ll even repay what the public school systems paid to educate me!

                      Fuck that, I’ll pay it twice over.

                      MIRACLES ARE WORTH THAT MUCH.

                      But, since it’s not likely to happen anytime soon? How about you aim for something slightly more achievable: “stop being a dick.”

                    • JixiLou says:

                      I’m so confused by your ability to type dozens of comments on the Internet, but your inability to type or do simple data entry or word processing or coding.

                    • Pax says:

                      That’s because you’re not privy to the nature of my disability. Which is very private information, so you won’t become privy to it.

                      All you need to know is that, after careful review, a panel of medical experts, including multiple Doctors, deecided that indeed I was not able to secure gainful employment.

                    • rmorin says:

                      You are truly a repulsive person. The fact that you can’t even understand the other side of the argument and result to insults which have been highly sexualized (you’ve called various people dick, prick, and ass) shows that you likely do have significant issues in your life, aside from your disability. You are the type of person that turns people off to assistance programs altogether.
                      I am not a misinformed person; I am a registered nurse, and in a previous career worked for Disability Services for close to five years at a major state university. In those years it was so inspirational to see students with such huge disabilities persevere and accomplish their goals. Seeing you defend being able to buy soda is just sad and misinformed.

                    • Pax says:

                      “You are truly a repulsive person.

                      I love you, too.

                      “The fact that you can’t even understand the other side of the argument [...]“

                      Lack of agreement != lack of understanding. I understand what the “not MY money” people are saying, just fine. I just consider it to be wrong.

                      “[...] and result to insults [...]“

                      Riiiight, I should be all sweetness-and-light to people who would, by and large, gladly see me reduced to a life of bare, mind-numbingly monotonous mere existence … sure. Sure I should; that’s a grand idea.

                      “You are the type of person that turns people off to assistance programs altogether.

                      “I am not a misinformed person; [...]“
                      Yes, you are. And it’s sad that you’re that misinformed, despite your direct experience. Would you really have suggested to those students you helped, “hey, if you’re on benefits, you don’t deserve any luxuries, no matter why you’re getting those benefits” …?

                      If not, then … why are you posting in support of people that are saying that about anyone and everyone receiving Food Stamps?

                      Here’s a hint: try and see this form my side of the coin. Try and see the conversations here, from the POV of someone who has been judged by all comers, none of whom knew the slightest thing about me except what they could see, for nearly twenty years now. Try and think how you, if you were in my shoes, might react to people calling you a scammer, people suggeewsting that your only reason to be receiving food stamps is because you’re too lazy to get a job.

                      Then re-read what you just wrote to me … and go to a mirror, and try to look yourself in the eye while saying, with a straight face, “I think I said the right thing to the right person”.

                      If you have the slightest shred of empathy and humanity, I do not think you will be able to that.

                  • Pax says:

                    “So are you now admitting that you COULD earn a living conducting business over the internet, but instead choose to live off the tax payers?”

                    You are an unmitigated ass.

                    Online banking – not a job, but still “business conducted over the internet”.

                    A lot of things involving Social Security are done online ( http://www.ssa.gov/ ). Indeed, if you go into an SSA office, you’ll see lots of signs that suggest going online to do things … like replacement social security card applications, checking the status of your Retirement or Disability application, and getting copies of various SSA documents intended to educate current and potential recipients.

                    My phone bill – which includes a subsidised rate for local service, specific to disabled and elderly, low-income residents of my state – is paperless, and accessed online. As is my ISP bill, through the same company.

                    When I need to buy something, I often do my shopping online. (I love Amazon.com for both it’s deep discounts, and the frequently-available free shipping.)

                    All of that, see, is “business” … and it’s all “conducted via the internet”. Noen of it pays me one single thin dime.

    • 99 1/2 Days says:

      Try the library if you need sensory stimuli. That’s where I go.

    • Griking says:

      No but it means that you should suddenly lose your ability to get these luxuries for paid for by the rest of us.

    • Smultronstallet says:

      Well, with that rationale, alcohol should be allowed too! It has about as many nutrients as junk food and soda.

    • Awesome McAwesomeness says:

      If they want that crap, then they need to buy it with their own money. I have no problem with food stamps, but I do have a problem with people buying garbage with it. If someone else is footing the bill, it seems like the government should be able to decide what they can buy.

    • alana0j says:

      Oh my…I guess ignorance really IS bliss. I agree Pax, everyone deserves a little treat or a little comfort food sometimes. I’m on food stamps but I guess I am in a different situation than most of these people are imagining. I’m the sole supporter of myself, my 3 year old daughter and my fiance. I work 6 nights a week, basically every week, as a pizza delivery driver. The economy sucks…just in case some of you didn’t know…which directly affects how much I make. I can just barely afford to pay my bills and have a little bit left over to put into my savings account, therefore I depend totally on food stamp benefits to feed my family. I buy healthy foods, we stay stocked with fruits and veggies, whole grain everything, etc etc but I do occasionally enjoy a bag of potato chips or a candy bar as a treat. So who’s to say I don’t deserve to treat myself? I’m a very dedicated worker and mother, it’s not fair to lump everyone who receives government assistance in the class of people who “live on junk food” and “don’t want or try to work”

      • 99 1/2 Days says:

        Sorry you are no longer blissfully ignorant of the fact that most people resent being forced to buy you luxuries.

        • alana0j says:

          Ok, I guess you missed the part about my job, so I too pay taxes and I too help fund the program that I use for help. I guess you also missed that soda and chips are only an occasional treat. I’m sorry that there are those that abuse the system making a bad name for everybody but you have no right to tell me what I can and can’t buy. What little I get every month to help me out with food is ALL I use to buy food, I have just a strict, if not stricter, food budget as anyone else out there just trying to make ends meet. If it’s the end of the month and I have plenty left over (which happens every month) I may splurge on something yummy. Just because I need help doesn’t mean I deserve to be judged, I have to swallow a lot of pride every time I have to go to the DHS office to renew. It takes a lot to admit that you really just can’t make it without help. I’m only holding on to the benefits til my fiance graduates college and can get a better job, but don’t worry about that. You just stay on your high horse and talk about how YOU support ME therefore I shouldn’t be allowed to treat myself or my daughter.

          • Red Cat Linux says:

            +1k

            My mother got us through a very hard period on food stamps. It *IS* a hard knot to swallow. I could see it in her face every time she had to go. There is a stereotype assigned to people on public assistance. Sure, there are people for whom the picture it paints is accurate, but like all stereotypes it doesn’t do anyone justice. Who is anyone to think they have some mystic insight that allows them to know everyone’s situation while standing in a check out lane?

            My mother was not about to martyr us for her pride by NOT taking advantage of food stamps. For the record, anyone still reading, birthdays happen on food stamps. Holidays happen. Every day happiness… well, happens. It sucks feeling like people are scanning your purchases in the check out and judging you by how you pay for them, whether they are actually doing it or not. You still feel it, and I was a child.

            I sincerely hope that all you other tax payers never get to expereince having to take advantage of the benefits of some of the services your taxes pay for. “There but for the grace of god…” and all that.

            • alana0j says:

              Oh as for the being judged part, I definitely feel that way every time I swipe my EBT card. And based on the terrible opinions of so many Consumerists, it seems as though feeling judged is justified…

          • 3skr1mad0r says:

            Don’t worry about it alana. Everyone needs help once in awhile. That’s what the programs are there for. Taking care of one another is also basic humanity.

        • Pax says:

          You aren’t forced. You have the right – and probably the financial wherewithal – to LEAVE. Go somewhere with no welfare support, and enjoy lording your wealth over the Great Unwashed Masses of the poor and destitute.

          Please. Go. The sooner, the better.

    • Pax says:

      This is the best way to put this as up-front as possible.

      Over the course of this entire comments section, one thing has become clear: most of hte people in favor of Bloomberg’s idea, seem to support it because they don’t want people spending “their” tax dollars on “soda”.

      I think they missed the fact that DIET soda, regardless of price, would still be food-stamp eligible.

      Well, it isn’t about the money. IT isn’t about where X or Y tax dollar is spent. Bloomberg isn’t trying to “stop welfare deadbeats from living it up on the dole” …! He is trying to OUTLAW SUGAR. And that is all he is trying to do. He is, as others have described him, neither more nor less than the spearhead of the Food Police.

      First it will be sugary drinks.

      Then it will be sugary snacks, including candy, and yes, birthday cakes.

      Then it will be processed foods – TV dinners, canned soups or pastas, Hamburger Helper, and so on.

      And first, it’ll be food stamps.

      But who really thinks he’ll stop there? He’ll realise “hey, look, all the welfare deadbeats are using their CASH benefits to buy those things, now! WE HAVE TO STOP IT ‘for their own good’ …”

      And so, the State-run assistance programs (where those Food stamp cards come from – and who put cash benefits on those very same cards) will block their cards from paying for those same items.

      Oh, but wait … then the “welfare deadbeats” will just take out cash advances, so we have to stop THAT too. We can’t let them go to a bank and get a money order or cashier’s check, either, because they’ll make them out to each other, and have cash! WOE!!

      So that will be blocked, and suddenly, even rent, heating, and lights will have to be paid-for by swiping that card.

      Which will invariably involve a fee, or a rise in prices, because the merchant account needed to process a payment of that nature isn’t free, and guess what the landlords, utilities, or bill-payment outlets will all do?

      “Pass the cost along to the consumer”, of course.

      And benefits will have to rise to compensate. Which means, all of you whining about “your” tax dollars? Bloomberg’s destination means a HIGHER tax burden for ll of you!

      Still so sure we should let him get his way, now?

      I really, sincerely hope not.

  2. aaron8301 says:

    I think people receiving government assistance (food stamps, welfare) should be required to take regular, random drug tests.

    I don’t care what food products people spend their public assistance on; the problem I have is that I have to pass drug tests in order to make the money to pay the taxes that fund the public assistance, thus people should have to take drug tests in order to use said public assistance.

    • courtachino says:

      Who is going to pay for those random drug tests? I think that’s the main thing.

      In Virginia, one cannot typically receive food stamps if convicted of drug distribution after August 1996 (unless going through court-appointed treatment). However, murderers, rapists, pedophiles are free to receive assistance, though! (I’m only a case manager in Virginia, not sure how it is in other states).

      • Erika'sPowerMinute says:

        Easy–the $$ we’re NOT giving to those who test positive.

        • lettucefactory says:

          Then it’s all a wash, and what’s the point? Okay, some drug users on public assistance feel ashamed? That’s worth the overhead of administering this kind of program? This does not sound like smart government spending to me.

        • knoxblox says:

          And what about the person who’s dying of cancer and unable to work, but gets a little medical marijuana now and then to ease the pain instead of using opiates? They’d starve if their food stamps were cut off.

    • Rectilinear Propagation says:

      I have to pass drug tests in order to make the money

      But that’s not a good reason for other people to have to take drug tests. Besides, if we’re going based on what people who pay taxes do one could argue that there are lots of taxpayers who’ve never had to take a drug test and in fact many employed people who are on drugs so people getting food stamps should not have to take drug tests.

    • Tim says:

      Not all jobs require drug tests.

    • PHRoG says:

      Oh, you mean random pot tests…right? Because that’s about the only thing those tests are effective at catching. Just about every other drug they test for is out of your system within 24-72 hours.

    • mandy_Reeves says:

      I guess …I mean I am in the process of getting assistance from food stamps myself…I don’t want them, but I do have to face the fact that I need them, so I can afford to pay my utilities and rent…it sucks that working full time I still don’t make enough to not need them….my husband too. It’s what happens when you take any job available because it’s either that or the street.

      • jessjj347 says:

        Don’t forget to look into other benefits like heating assistance that you may be eligible for. There is usually a crisis version of the benefit and a seasonal benefit you apply for. It may be called HEAP or LIHEAP depending on your state.

        Also depending on your age, disabilities, etc there are other benefits like help with prescription costs. If you have kids, there are a ton of benefits too…

      • Pax says:

        If your rent is more than about 50% of your income (before all other expenses), you should also look into housing assistance. Though there can often be a multi-year waiting list for such programs, well … the sooner you get in line, the sooner you arrive at the head of that line.

    • Pax says:

      … and a whole lot of people would be automatically given exceptions to that anyway, because their PRESCRIPTION medications would generate constant false positives.

    • Marlin says:

      Maybe if you had half a brain and did not watch fox and other right wing sites you would know that the majority on food stamps are children.

      So you want to spend even more money to test 8 year olds?
      Yea lets spend more to save, how has that worked out?

      • AustinTXProgrammer says:

        Well, the parents shouldn’t be using the KIDS food stamps to subsidize their life and buy drugs. Cut off the stamps after some period of time. If the parents can’t get clean enough to qualify and feed their kids, find the kids a new home.

    • dbeahn says:

      2 problems with that:

      1) We’ll have to raise taxes to pay for all those drug tests (which will cost a LOT more than just sucking it up and accepting that there will be people that scam the system).

      2) Let’s just legalize and tax pot (since study after study after study shows that it’s a lot LESS harmful than booze, which is already pervasive in our society. Plus the people that want to smoke it already do anyway) and use that revenue (and cost savings from not having to overload the legal system with chasing people that are doing the equivalent of having 2-3 beers after work) to off set the costs of these other programs.

    • DD_838 says:

      Oh, because your poor, you must use drugs.

      If you smoke pot you should therefore starve. So should your children.

      BAD IDEA

      • dbeahn says:

        If you have money for pot, then you have money for food. Just because you’d RATHER spend your money on pot and have my taxes pay for your food doesn’t mean that you should be able to.

        If you buy pot rather than food with your money, then you SHOULD starve – you’re making that precise choice.

        • knoxblox says:

          That’s a huge mistake to assume that people on public assistance are drug abusers.

          • dbeahn says:

            I didn’t say anything about people on public assistance. I was very specific: “If you buy pot rather than food with your money”

            I said nothing about people on (or off) public assistance.

            • knoxblox says:

              “Just because you’d RATHER spend your money on pot and have my taxes pay for your food doesn’t mean that you should be able to.”

              Reread your first statement. That is both a generalization and an assumption, and “have my taxes pay for your food” definitely insinuates you are speaking to those who are on public assistance.

              You base your statement on the original argument that Aaron had — that those on public assistance should be drug tested. Because people have money to buy pot does not mean they don’t have additional money for food, and just because they may lack money and have to apply for public assistance, does not necessarily mean they can still buy pot.

              Sure, it’s a bad idea to buy pot when one is starving. However, the use of public assistance and pot at the same time may be coincidental, and one does not cause the other. Correlation does not equal causation.

              • dbeahn says:

                You’re assuming I’m making an argument I’m NOT making. Go back and read the comment that I replied to – I didn’t REPLY to the first comment.

                You want to apply my statement to EVERYONE on public assistance, but that isn’t who I was talking about. The comment *I* replied to was one that was *specifically* about drug users:

                “If you smoke pot you should therefore starve. So should your children.”

                THAT was the line I replied to. Now put the crack pipe down (kidding! I kid!) and stop putting words in my mouth.

                So my original comment stands: IF you are a drug user, AND you have money to buy drugs, AND you spend that money on drugs rather than food, then YES, you should pay the consequence of that choice and go hungry.

                • knoxblox says:

                  “…and have my taxes pay for your food…” (your words) means that you are either directly or indirectly supporting someone through a government (“my taxes”) food assistance (“your food”).

                  I’m sorry I failed to grasp your intent, but your words did not follow your intent.

                  I REALLY, REALLY am trying not to be a grammar Nazi, but when you say something other than what you mean, people tend to misunderstand you. My apologies.

        • BD2008 says:

          I don’t need money for pot. I make mine at home.

    • Thyme for an edit button says:

      That would cause a bunch of problems. Cost is one because your have the cost of administering the tests and the costs of appeals filed after a denial of benefits that will have to be heard.

      Then there is, a moral problem. I don’t think it if right to test people as criminals for getting nutrition assistance. If everyone getting a benefit from the government had to be possibly subject drug tested then it should also include people who have the benefit of driver’s licenses or of having their kids in public schools.

      Such a policy would also discourage the truly needy from applying. I see a huge problem for seniors, who often hesitate to apply, especially depression era folks.

    • FrugalFreak says:

      You sir are a bigot. Stereotype often?

      • RxDude says:

        Please explain where you found bigotry or stereotypes.

        • knoxblox says:

          Hmm…possibly the statement assuming people who need public assistance are most likely drug users, and therefore need to be kept in line via drug testing? That’s stereotyping and bigotry via bias based on caste standing.

          • RxDude says:

            I see no assumption. He is subject to drug testing to earn the money he makes. He suggests others be subject to the same testing to benefit from the money he makes.

            Agree or disagree with his stance, how is it “bigoted” or “stereotyping” to suggest others be held to the same standard he is required to meet?

            • knoxblox says:

              Disagree. Once again, it amounts to caste standing on who gets drug tested.

              Suppose the average public assistance recipient is subjected to mandatory random drug testing along with the public worker (public services, military, etc.). Fine, but what about the private worker who isn’t held to the same standard of mandatory testing? Not all private company workers are subject to mandatory testing, if they are tested at all. However, the public assistance recipient has only limited avenues for government aid, which is supported in part by taxes paid by private company workers, some of who may not be tested.

              I have no problem with incidental drug-testing, nor with random mandatory drug-testing. I have a problem with people who are at a disadvantage having to go along with mandatory testing if not everyone is held to the same standard depending upon their status.

    • bcsus83 says:

      While I would agree with you when it comes to cash benefits, I have to disagree when it comes to food and medical benefits. Honestly, I don’t think it’s fair to deny food and medical assistance to the children of those adults who could not pass a drug test.

      And don’t get me wrong–I’m all about ‘if you have money for drugs, you have money for food’…but I can’t help but picture the children who would suffer in that situation because drug users DO often make the choice of drugs over groceries.

    • Ahardy55 says:

      I agree. Therefore, anyone who works at any corporation that gets government money should be drug tested…so everyone who works at any private company basically. Also, if you use things like road or cops.
      Why do we always attack the ones who receive government assistance and not realize that we all receive government assistance in a huge variety of ways? Why put the harshest restrictions on the ones who have benefited least in our society?

      • fair_and_balanced says:

        This is different. These are people that potentially could be dealing/using drugs and stealing from the government.

        We are crazy to not drug test for welfare. We need to use our money for those that want tomake their lives better.

        • huadpe says:

          All people are potentially dealing drugs. And “stealing” from the government? Are retirees stealing from the government when they get social security. Are you stealing from the government when you file a civil lawsuit or call the fire department?

      • Smultronstallet says:

        I have met approximately a dozen people in my first three years of college who have LINK (food stamp card in Illinois) who really do NOT need government assistance, at least as far as I can tell. All of them receive money from their parents and/or have jobs and were not struggling to get by prior to applying for assistance. The rationale? I will quote one individual, “If I don’t have to pay for food, I could afford to get high every day!” These people want to spend a large portion of their money on booze, weed and/or hard drugs, while the government pays for their groceries. It makes me ill to think about it. I’m not suggesting that this is common, but, unfortunately, it happens.

    • Gregg Araki Rocks My World says:

      Boy, you crazy. Go take your police state policies back to communist China.

    • nacoran says:

      How much does drug testing cost? Remember, lots of poor people have a hard time getting to the doctors, so you are going to have to pay for a cab and an administration to monitor this. Drug convictions already will cost you your benefits, and, for instance, schizophrenics often self medicate. All taking their benefits away will do is put them out on the street where they are more likely to cause crime. And what do you define as a benefit? Corporate welfare? Driving on a public road? Using the post office? All paid for with tax payer dollars. Big brother has a tendency to creep. Pee in the cup.

    • smo0 says:

      I live in Las Vegas… it’s a common problem for people on welfare to be drug users… believe me.
      I’ve found myself saying this exact same thing.
      As far as that cost goes? the short term expensive is worth it in the long run.
      One drug test to save you thousands in tax dollars dished out to undeserving drug users?
      And if they do test positive for drugs – then make it so they cannot reapply for at least another year.

      Regarding the girl with the 3 year old and the fiance.

      I’m sorry, no sympathy. My mother was ALONE and worked 3 jobs and NEVER ONCE took welfare or government assistance. People act like it’s impossible to not having welfare… I call bullshit.
      She busted her ass working and she still works two jobs – she’ll be 57 in November.

      I hate you people. Stop breeding.

  3. suez says:

    I think food stamps are a necessity and actually help prevent a far worse situation in this country, but I also have no problem with this sort of restriction. Soda is not a necessity–there is absolutely no nutritional value in it. Therefore It’s a luxury and thus should not be funded by tax money.

    • veritybrown says:

      But it’s okay if they buy lobsters?

      • suez says:

        At least there’s nutional value in lobsters–and if they want to blow their money on it and then starve the rest of the month, that’s their decision. There also needs to be some common sense exercized, of course. I’m not advocating removing all free will–I’m just saying these funds should be limited to necessities, and if they want soda they can find the money elsewhere.

      • Marlin says:

        Lobsters have real value as far as nutrition and employee US workers.

        Soda has little to no real value as far as nutrition.

        I have no problem with this.

    • Pax says:

      Everyone needs at least SOME luxuries – as a matter of mental health.

      Yes, that includes the occasional soda, candy bar, or bag of chips.

      • suez says:

        I work 40 hours a week and I’ve had to cut back on most of my own luxuries, including those things. If they want it, they can find the money elsewhere like I have to. Foodstamps should be reserved for necessities only.

        • pecan 3.14159265 says:

          We stopped buying soda for health reasons. I calculated the cost of soda (using the lowest price I have ever been able to get consistently as a standard) and we realized that we were spending about $10 a month to buy liters of soda. It was especially boggling because we eat balanced diets otherwise, but soda was wasting more money than we thought. We don’t really miss it, either.

          • suez says:

            Same here, I quit for health reasons–and I don’t miss it. And yes, it’s a chunk of change I got back by doing so.

      • dbeahn says:

        “Everyone needs at least SOME luxuries – as a matter of mental health.

        Yes, that includes the occasional soda, candy bar, or bag of chips.”

        Fine. Then get a job and pay for it yourself. If you NEED it, then find a way to get it WITHOUT USING MY MONEY.

        And really, this statement is just a rationalization on your part to justify wasting other people’s money to get what you want. 200 years ago, oranges were a luxury. Buy those. Or buy potatoes and oil and fry up your own chips. I do just fine without soda, chips or candy bars, so I don’t think your “mental health” is going to implode if you go without them too.

        • Pax says:

          “Fine. Then get a job and pay for it yourself.”

          Cure my permanent disability, and fix the national and global economy … then, I will GLADLY get a job. Fuck, I’ll get TWO.

          “If you NEED it, then find a way to get it WITHOUT USING MY MONEY. “

          I have two choices. Spend my benefits the way I feel is best for me, or DIE.

          Let me guess – you’d prefer the latter, to the former, yes? I suppose I “[...] had better do it now, and decrease the surplus population”, eh, Mr. Scrooge?

          • Pax says:

            Actually, I’ve realised I have a third choice:

            CRIME.

            I could, if you really think it’d be better for society, start going to more affluent places, breaking into houses, stealing jewelry and cash, and use THAT to pay for my non-essentials.

            Would you prefer that scenario? Thousands or millions of people with no viable alternative suddenly considering a life of crime, just to have more than bare-subsistence lives?

            • Chaosium says:

              Ahahahaaahahahahhahaha for soda.

            • Chaosium says:

              No, really, I’ve been unemployed for a while before, and I absolutely support using fixed incomes on whatever keeps you sane, especially if you’re not capable of regular work. You want to buy rum and hookers? Drugs? Sure! (I happen to think the people who want to drug test those on disability are loathsome.)

              I just don’t support the same freedoms for food stamps.

        • mandy_Reeves says:

          you are correct…food stamps are for necessities. People can get creative and make chips in the oven…I do that with sweet potatoes and regular potatoes…just slice them thin and sprinkle on some salt and seasonings…bake till crispy. Bake your own cookies…there is no law against buying ingredients with the benefits…

      • RxDude says:

        “luxury”, “need”

        You might want to look those words up. I don’t think they mean what you think they mean.

    • ARP says:

      I agree. So can we control AIG’s salary, what they eat, how they travel, etc. to make sure they’re being as efficient and cost effective as possible? Can we do with the same with the oil companies we subsidize? Or, is it just poor people?

      • suez says:

        As a matter of fact, I think the salaries at any of the bailed-out banks and oil companies SHOULD be controlled so long as they’re on the dole. It’s insulting to REWARD them with tax money for their own greed and failure.

  4. pz says:

    I assume sugar-free soda is free from this restriction?

    • Joewithay says:

      Yes it is. So they can drink all the diet soda and other sugar free soda they want.

    • Veeber says:

      Yup. Just sugary sodas

    • Erika'sPowerMinute says:

      Shouldn’t be. Diet soda doesn’t have any nutrition either. Chemical cocktails do not equal food. (Even if they’re delicious, refreshing chemical cocktails.)

    • knoxblox says:

      They’re still opening up a can of worms with that kind of logic. If they follow the no-sugar restriction, then does that mean to the letter – no sweetened items, which means almost everything on the grocery store shelf these days, or no sugar, which means you could still drink U.S. Coke and hundreds of other HFCS-sweetened items? Also, what’s to stop them from making Kool-Aid? If you (even further) prevent them from buying sugar, then you prevent them from being able to complete many basic recipes you’d find in cookbooks.

      Side note: All the people complaining about supporting others through public assistance should think about what they’re saying, lest they wind up in the same position. It’s a pretty thin line between employment and unemployment these days.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      According to the article, the ban affects drinks with “more than 10 calories per 8 ounces, and would exclude fruit juices without added sugar, milk products and milk substitutes. A 12-ounce soda has 150 calories and the equivalent of 10 packets of sugar, according to the health department.”

  5. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    I’m surprised they don’t already do that.

    Correct me if I’m wrong but one can’t typically get junk food using food stamps right? They’re kind of specific on what foods you can get with those. (A friend told me she once saw a pregnant woman having to go back and forth from the cashier to the dairy section because she’d grabbed the wrong kind of cheese. First the wrong brand, then the wrong size, and then my friend just bought the cheese for her. But that was some time ago so maybe the rules have changed.)

    • ArcanaJ says:

      That might have been WiC and not food stamps. I was on it years ago and what you can and can’t get is really narrowly defined.

      They’re also so rabid about not smoking that I had to go through three anti-smoking classes. Of course, I don’t smoke, but that, it seems, was neither here nor there.

    • courtachino says:

      You are probably thinking about WIC.

    • anchorworm is really sick of Minnesota weather says:

      That sounds like the WIC (Women, Infants, Children) program. This is similar to the food stamp program, but not the same thing. This program does restrict the type of items that can be purchased using the coupons.

    • Sean says:

      You are thinking about WIC (A food program for Women Infants and Children). Food stamps is different. In a lot of states they just give you a debit card that can only be used on food items.

    • ktetch says:

      I think the woman at the time was using a slightly different program, called WIC (http://www.fns.usda.gov/wic/) where you get vouchers for certain types of thing, in specific sizes and brands. Such a voucher might be a gallon of milk, a 16oz block of cheese, and 24oz cereal.

      Foodstamps can be spent on any cold food item, or non-alcoholic beverage. Doesn’t matter if its a porterhouse steak, or a pound of ground beef, a gallon of nursery water or a 24 pack of Perrier, pate de foie gras or Clammers Beefymite Spread, they all count. It just can’t be hot, or ‘prepared’ foods (no subway, or rotisserie chickens)

    • LiviLu says:

      She probably had WIC. WIC has very specific restrictions and allowances on what you can buy, like how many ounces, if it has spices in it, fat content, whole grain, etc. Cheese has a limit of 16oz, and they cannot be prewrapped slices, weird stuff like that. WIC is specific like that because it is meant to ensure that children and moms are getting proper nutrition.

      Food stamps, on the other hand, have essentially no restrictions. At the store that i work at, people commonly spend $30+ on pop, more on junkfood, Sometimes i have kids come in with their parents’ food card, and they buy pop and candy, and other things kids eat. only recently was the system updated to disallow energy drinks. Personally i think soda should be one of those “out of your pocket” things.

      • jessjj347 says:

        The real issue is that when you have limited income from food stamps, it takes less money to get junk food and you will get more calories than fresh foods like fruits and veg.

        So if someone gets full eating frozen pizza and soda with less money, they’re going to continue to buy that. Also, for many urban people who live in poorer areas, they live in “food deserts”. They live near corner stores that have more expensive and less-fresh foods, but don’t live near any grocery stores within walking distance or an easy bus ride (without several transfers). Even in rural areas, a person in poverty may not have a reliable car to get to a grocery store (I suppose that applies to suburbs as well).

        As for the issue brought up here about restricting food stamp usage, I think that the points I brought up need to somehow be addressed first. I think one of the steps in the right direction is that a lot of farmer’s markets are now accepting food stamps.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      It probably depends on the city or state issuing the public assistance. I’ve seen “WIC” stickers on many different products at some of the grocery stores I’ve been to, and some of those things could clearly be interpreted as “junk food.” I’m pretty sure you can use WIC to pay for cake mix, even though there’s no nutritional value in cake mix.

    • Dreadcthulhu says:

      I work in retail; pretty much everything you can eat or drink in a supermarket can be bought with food stamps. The only exceptions I have seen are alcohol, prepared stuff at the deli section, and energy drinks. Food stamps are on debit cards these days, and the system has them automatically pay for the items that qualify, making them no more difficult than any other debit transaction. Except that food-stamp users seem a lot more likely to forget their PINs than anyone else.

      What your friend probably saw was a WIC voucher; WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) is a separate program that provides very specific food items to pregnant women, and those with young children. They give out a booklet with the vouchers for each month that has the approved brands and types for each item, but quite a few people haven’t seen to have read them, or don’t care and want to get something not on the list. Like a half gallon of milk when it says a quart. Or get a pound of fancy cheese when the voucher is for 8 oz of Kraft or store brand.

    • Pax says:

      You’re wrong.

      I get food stamps every month.

      And I could, if I were so short-sightedly stupid, go across the street and blow my entire month’s allotment on Doritos, Slim Jim meat sticks, Ice Cream, Hostess Cupcakes, and Sunkist Soda.

      The restriction on Food Stamps is solely and exclusively these:
      (a) it must be FOOD OR DRINK (or the ingredients thereof);
      (b) it must not be PREPARED AND SERVED HOT prior to purchase.

    • Rectilinear Propagation says:

      OK seriously, y’all can stop telling me I’m wrong now. Please see my reply to courtachino at 9:28AM.

    • anyanka323 says:

      I worked in grocery stores in Michigan and South Dakota. In both locations, at least a third of the store’s business was from customers receiving WIC and/or EBT benefits. In both states, people couldn’t purchase hot deli food or energy drinks with EBT cards. Those were the only restrictions in place.

      I know I’m making a broad generalization, but there are usually two groups getting EBT funds. One group is the people who either lost their jobs or have had their hours cut back as a result of the economy. The other type is the people who have been getting food stamps for multiple generations. In Michigan, it was a mix of the two groups. The first group in general bought healthier items and usually received smaller amounts. The average was $350 per month. That doesn’t go very far for a family of four. The other group usually got a higher amount.

      I remember one woman who had foster kids. Most people do it out of the goodness of their hearts, but there are those who do it for the extra money that states give them. This woman seemed like the less than altruistic type. These kids would bring the torn up card and buy pop and junk food. Michigan has bottle deposits and most people get cash back. If you’re paying with your own money, that’s fine but if you’re paying with EBT, then you shouldn’t be getting the cash back. I took the deposits off their balance and the girl had a fit. Her foster mom, a woman in her 50s and very obese comes in to complain. My spineless manager apologizes to the woman. Both her and the foster kids had an attitude and were on the list of less than desirable customers.

      In SD, there’s more of the second type. I actually was really surprised to see how many people received food assistance because the unemployment rate is so low. It makes sense because a lot of people, especially a couple of groups, see manual labor as beneath them and would rather collect welfare than work. There was one male customer who was incredibly creepy and overly chatty for my preference. He was on food stamps for some reason, possibly a disability based upon a speech impediment, but he had a YMCA membership. Those aren’t cheap, at least $50 a month for an individual. People seemed to get more per month than in Michigan. That seemed surprising considering how much more tax dollars certain states contribute more than others.

      I think the biggest obstacle to any food stamp and nutrition reform is the big food conglomerates. They make a lot of money off people buying junk food. There is a direct link between low income and an unhealthy diet. Not allowing pop, chips, candy, and other junk food to be purchased with food stamps would hurt Kraft, Pepsi, and Nabsico’s profits.

      • Kibit says:

        Just wanted to let you know that low income families and I believe individuals can get reduced rate and even free YMCA cards.

  6. agent 47 says:

    When soda is outlawed, only outlaws will have soda.

    I guess Bloomberg is taking a break from his anti-gun crusade. Good thing we have him protecting us from ourselves!

    • humphrmi says:

      I don’t think he’s trying to outlaw soda. I think the story says he’s trying to keep the taxpayers from paying for it.

    • Razor512 says:

      Yo, that guy is moving in on our turf! only we’re allowed to sell diet coke in this part of town… Are you asking me to whack him?

      it will be just like in the prohibition days.

      Anyway, this may be the first step to banning soda. Think about it, usually when 1 law gets passed, it is basically certain jerks getting their foot in the door so they can further push to do more stupid things.

  7. Erika'sPowerMinute says:

    Hell yeah. Food stamps are supposed to provide nutrition; recipients should not use them for nonnutritious items. They can use their own money, wherever it comes from, to buy junk if they need it that badly.

    By the way, grew up in a single-parent household and we were on food stamps for several years while my mom went back to school to get the great job she has now. Been there, so don’t even start with the “but think of the poor poors!” crap.

    • JustARandomThought says:

      So the government knows best of course, right? They knew how to maximize utility when you were on food stamps and now you know how? Give me a break.

      • AustinTXProgrammer says:

        I’m sure some people on food stamps know how to maximize the utility, but I will make the poorly informed assumption that MOST people on food stamps don’t know how, or they WOULDN’T be on food stamps!

        • Geekmom says:

          Yes because people on foodstamps are there because of poor food choices and not say the primary bread winner lost their job and now they have to survive on one income or they are stuck in a fast food job for the rest of their lives because not everyone is intelligent and able to have good jobs.

      • Erika'sPowerMinute says:

        Wait, what? I don’t even really get what you are saying. Are you questioning the government’s ability to made sound decisions regarding how resources can be spent? Well, me too. But in this instance, when someone’s giving you a handout, they automatically make the rules, even if you think you could do a better job, and also yes I would say that most (not all) food stamp recipients have shitty life skills to include allocation of resources which is what landed them in the circumstances that necessitate the aforementioned handout.

        (Which–the improvement of life skills–should be the goal of social services, but they you have the government Telling People How to Live, which is maybe the biggest can of worms of all. So you’re screwed coming and going.)

    • rubicthecube says:

      I’m with you. There was a rough patch when I was a kid where we ate pretty much only rice and beans and whatever else was available. Nobody needs junk food to survive. Unless you’ve been poor and on food stamps, your arguments don’t hold up as well. Objectivity doesn’t work in this situation. I once asked my parents why they never bought junk food when we were poor, my dad replied (and I’m paraphasing here),Because you wouldn’t know how to prioritize as an adult. What lesson would we have taught you if we used government aid for unnecessary items? If you can afford to buy junk food, you don’t need food stamps. It’s a form of help, not a luxury.

      • Pax says:

        Hmmm, so people who are permanently reliant on food stamps, should never have any luxury foods in their entire remaining life? Is that it?

        I wonder, did your parents smoke? Ever have a beer or glass of wine? Ever, ever go to the cinema?

        Those are luxuries too. That money could have been spent on food, junk or otherwise, too.

  8. Rocket says:

    On a different topic, Jones Soda is delicious!

  9. MDSasquatch says:

    Here is how it works: A recipient goes to a store and “buys’ $20 worth of goods; swipes his/her card, the cashier hands him $15 and he/she walks out and goes across the street to the liquor store and grabs a 6-pack and some cigarettes.

    Head down to Baltimore’s Lexington Market, happens every day.

  10. dolemite says:

    Yup, I agree with this. If you are living off the state, you need basic staples. Milk, bread, veggies, meats.

    Might give you some incentive to at least try and find a job (yeah, yeah, I know we are in a recession, but I remember from past jobs, so many people would come in, ask for an application, then leave…absolutely no interest in working, just putting in their required apps so they could get their welfare and foodstamps.)

    • Pax says:

      “Might give you some incentive to at least try and find a job [...]“

      And for those people – like myself – who are PERMANENTLY DISABLED …? What then?

      • dolemite says:

        Maybe they need 2 forms of assistance. One for people out of work, and one for disabled.

      • AustinTXProgrammer says:

        Get the food stamps for the necessities, and budget the luxuries out of your SSDI and possible SSI income?

      • RxDude says:

        My girlfriend is PERMANENTLY DISABLED due to her spine essentially disintegrating when she was active duty. She works full time.

      • 99 1/2 Days says:

        Still you only need nutrition, not junk food. If you think the government should provide you luxuries to make your life worth living, then advocate for it. But your food stamps should not be for that.

      • JixiLou says:

        Pax, sweetie? How are you paying for Internet?

      • Snaptastic says:

        Why could I not escape the feeling that you would be posting all over every single thread in here whining about how disabled you are?

        Stop the goddamned crying and put some thought into how to improve your predicament. I’m significantly disabled from my military service, but I suck it up and work a full-time because I recognize the fact that I may be in lots of pain, but I can still work.

    • Geekmom says:

      I’d like to point out again, not everyone on foodstamps are unemployed.

      I’d also point out milk costs more than gas and a lot of people are lactose intolerant.
      (it’s bad for you anyway, so I guess that’s out too)

  11. agent 47 says:

    I’d also like to propose that if you’re on food stamps, you can only redeem them at grocery stores or farmer’s markets. Do you know how many people I’ve seen do their grocery shopping at gas stations, where items are double what they would cost at a regular grocery store, only to whip out their EBT cards? These people eat better than I do!

    • shepd says:

      Of course, depending on where the person lives, asking them to go to a grocery store could mean they spend over 8 hours doing so due to terrible public transport. That’s an entire day they could have spent looking for work, which is what they will say they can’t do due to having to grocery shop. And farmer’s markets? Even for me, in a medium sized city, that’s a once a week, 12+ hour proposition by public transport, because I’d have to walk several miles on top of using the bus for several hours.

      You could ask them to move beside a grocery store, but moving costs money, and they have none, so you’d have to pay for that, too.

      • agent 47 says:

        Are you telling me they don’t know anyone who owns a car? I mean, I know birds of a feather and all, but they must know somebody who had gotten off their ass and got a job.

        • jessjj347 says:

          If their friends are in poverty, then no one is going to have a reliable car. If only one of the person’s friends has a car, then he/she is in bad shape. But you do have the right idea. People in poverty have to really rely on the network of people they know.

        • RandomHookup says:

          In big cities like NYC and DC, it’s not uncommon for folks not to know anyone with a car (I remember in the Army, we had soldiers who enlisted as a truck driver, but were from NYC and didn’t have a license). There are a lot of structural issues around the poor and many of them are isolated without a support structure at all. Taking a bus or subway to shop is pretty common.

        • Pax says:

          Just because you have a job, doesn’t mean you have a car. Especially not in major metropolitan areas with extensive (if nto necessarily efficiently-laid-out) public-transportation coverage.

    • exit322 says:

      I’d like to propose that the food stamps program be scrapped and replaced with a WIC-like program that defines what foods can be purchased specifically.

      And yes, I worked in a grocery store, I know how much of a pain that’d be for people working at grocery stores.

    • bonzombiekitty says:

      You consider food at gas stations and convenience stores to be better food than what you get at the grocery store? There’s also the problem of inner city neighborhoods where the corner convenience store is the closest thing to a grocery store that people have easy access to. I’m somewhat lucky in my neighborhood – we have three “grocery” stores that are about the size of convenience stores but sell food other than just what you find in a convenience store (like some actual produce and meat). But they also have the huge mark up of convenience stores. If I didn’t have a car, it’d be a huge pain to go to a real store and I’d be living off the limited, expensive selection at the local “grocery” stores. Never mind if I was poor – then I’d be even more limited. It’d be even harder if I lived in other portions of the city which have almost nothing but convenience stores/bodegas.

      Thankfully they’re building a big, real, grocery store right in the middle of the neighborhood – two blocks away from my house. Can’t wait.

      • agent 47 says:

        Sure it’s better. Well, it’s brand name at any rate. I get to eat generic.

        • lettucefactory says:

          Really? You REALLY think someone buying brand-name convenience store food is eating better than you simply because it has Oscar Meyer or Cheetos slapped on the front of the package? You really want that life? You really envy people on food stamps because they buy brand name at the 7-11? I’m utterly flabbergasted.

          • agent 47 says:

            Well of course I don’t want to be on food stamps, but they’re buying the same thing I buy, only it’s nice than what I get and they get to use MY MONEY to buy it. So yeah, that has me a little perturbed. Why should I have to drink Shasta Cola when they get Coke?!

            • aja175 says:

              If it makes you feel any better they’re using your money too.

            • Pax says:

              I don’t have kids, why should I pay property taxes so that your kids can go to school?

              Yes, that’s the EXACT same attitude you just pulled.

              • agent 47 says:

                Not exactly. Even if I don’t have kids, I can still benefit from having a good local school system. I get ZERO benefit from giving welfare rats money that I worked hard to earn. Maybe one day when you have a job and pay taxes, you’ll understand.

                • Rectilinear Propagation says:

                  I get ZERO benefit from giving welfare rats

                  Oh, you’re a troll. All of this ranting you’re doing suddenly makes sense.

                  • agent 47 says:

                    Ok then, rat, tell me how I benefit that situation?

                    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

                      Homeowners in areas with good schools see their home values go up. Even if you don’t own a home, if you live in an area with good schools, you’re more likely to be in a good neighborhood and see an influx of the middle and upper class, who bring with them money and more development. These people also wield a little more ability to give to local charities, which is great if you happen to work for one. Also, good schools tend to be more pro-active in the community, whether it’s tutoring low income kids or cleaning up the parks, things which benefit all residents.

                • Pax says:

                  “Maybe one day when you have a job and pay taxes, you’ll understand. “

                  You mean, like when I enlisted in the Army, over twenty years ago?

                  Stop making assumptions.

              • idiocrat says:

                Public schools provide benefits to society via a more-competitive work force. What is the public benefit of buying orange soda instead of orange juice?

    • Rectilinear Propagation says:

      Farmer’s markets? You think poor neighborhoods have farmer’s markets? Poor neighborhoods barely have grocery stores (if they have any at all).

    • katarzyna says:

      People who live in food deserts don’t have a lot of options where they shop.

    • Pax says:

      … so, if all I need is a gallon of milk ($2.50) and a loaf of bread ($1.00), I should have to pay $3 in busfare to get to the nearest grocery store?

      Hmm, spend $3 cash, to benefit from $3.50 in food stamps. Yeah, THAT’S a great idea! [/sarcasm]

      • agent 47 says:

        Or…you know…they could just get jobs and avoid that whole situation to begin with.

        • Pax says:

          I’m permanently disabled. I have been medically and legally certified as unable to secure gainful employment, ever.

          Try again.

          • agent 47 says:

            So everyone on welfare is disabled? I wasn’t talking about your situation specifically. Disabled people tend to know people with cars. Have somebody do your shopping for you.

            • ParingKnife ("That's a kniwfe.") says:

              Exactly, you don’t know anyone’s particular situation from a hole in the ground. Mind your own damn business. You don’t complain that people are wearing taxpayer funded roads for destinations you don’t personally approve of, so step off.

              • Pax says:

                Thank you.

                It truly angers me to see so many people assume “if a person is on food stamps, then it must be because they are too lazy to get a job.”

              • agent 47 says:

                It is my business. It’s my money. You’re pretty much saying “hand over your money and DON’T YOU DARE QUESTION ITS USE!”

                Sorry, it doesn’t work that way.

      • DcChick says:

        How bout you plan better so that you can spend tax payer dollars the same way as if you would have earned the money yourself? That’s what I do, and I work for a living.
        If all I need is bread and milk and I don’t have much money I *wait* til I can go to a grocery store so that I don’t *waste* money. You, on the other hand, don’t give a damn because it’s not your money. $4.59 for some spray cheese? Sure!!!

        • Pax says:

          It’s hard to plan for a loaf of bread going green-and-fuzzy unexpectedly. It’s also hard to plan for your milk getting stinky-and-chunky unexpectedly.

          The word “unexpectedly” being, key, of course.

    • theblackdog says:

      What about those folks in “food deserts” where the nearest supermarket is miles away from their neighborhood and they can’t get there?

    • Smultronstallet says:

      Most of the gas station convenience stores in my city accept food stamps. It probably varies by city or state.

  12. bonzombiekitty says:

    I’m with Bloomberg on this one, heck I’d expand it to some other stuff too like potato chips and cheese doodles. Food stamps should be used on the essentials – meat, fruits, dairy, vegetables, grains, and your basic cooking ingredients. Food items that are little more than massive injections of fat, sugar, and/or salt should not be included. Of course, as with most things, it’s hard to draw a clear line.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      It would be kind of hard in some cases. Cheese, beef, tomato sauce, and pasta = lasagna. Stouffer’s family size lasagna meal = not really lasagna, but chances are it’ll be allowed.

      Breaking things down to their individual parts is probably what would help people distinguish whole foods from processed goods, but it doesn’t mean the processed goods are all “junk food” in the strictest sense. Homemade lasagna is more nutritionally sound, but it doesn’t mean that the Stouffer’s oven lasagna is of the same classification as a bag of chips or a pack of Oreos.

  13. pop top says:

    I’ve always heard the stories about people buying alcohol with EBT cards and didn’t believe them until I saw it for myself. There was a woman and her friend buying Three Olives vodka and they paid for it with a Bridge Card! I was shocked and dismayed. My husband and I can’t afford to buy $30 fifths of liquor (holidays are the exception) and we both work good-paying full-time jobs. I definitely think that cash advances should stop (to prevent buying liquor and cigs), and they obviously shouldn’t pay for cigs or alcohol. I’d like to see them do something similar with the WIC program, and limit what kinds of food people can buy to healthy things. And they can still drink soda, as long as it’s diet.

    • dolemite says:

      I was in food lion one day, and there were 2 ladies in front of us (They were together). They put all of their food purchases in one pile (and they had really nice name-brand stuff), and in the 2nd pile, they put cases of beer, cigs, etc. The one lady paid for all the food with her food stamps card, then the second paid for all the beer/cigs with cash.

      Meanwhile my wife and I loaded up our small pile of food, full of no-name brands and looked at each other.

      • Rectilinear Propagation says:

        Are people on food stamps supposed to be unemployed?

        • pop top says:

          I think their point is that if you have money to spend on cigs and alcohol, you have money you should be spending on food and therefore shouldn’t be receiving food benefits.

          • Rectilinear Propagation says:

            But that’s only logical if they’re spending as much on cigs and alcohol as they are on food, not to mention the fact that we don’t even know if the woman buying the non-food items is even on assistance and not just friends with the other woman.

            I mean, I guess that’s the argument but it still doesn’t make sense.

            • pop top says:

              Well, I can certainly understand the idea behind it (i.e. if you have money to spend on things you obviously don’t need, then you don’t really need monetary assistance), but I don’t know if there would be a good way to prevent it. I mean, if you are using your benefits correctly and are using your personal money for things not covered by the assistance, I don’t necessarily see the problem with it since it’s your money. I just don’t believe that you should be able to use government assistance to buy things like that.

              • AustinTXProgrammer says:

                There is the possibility that the cash was unreported and would be enough to disqualify the user from the food stamps, but we can’t really judge that from the checkout line. The though often crosses my mind though.

    • RandomHookup says:

      I believe that many of the cards also include cash benefits paid to the recipient. Is it possible that’s what they were using (basically using their cash the same way a debit card would be used)? Most of the “liquor/cash/cigarettes” transactions I have heard about usually involve cash or some other subterfuge.

      I’m not defending the liquor purchase…plenty of the folks who receive assistance are not known for making good choices.

      • pop top says:

        I’m not sure of the mechanics of the transactions, but having watched the entire thing, I can tell you that they just scanned their Bridge card, entered their PIN and left with liquor.

        • RandomHookup says:

          That’s why I’m thinking they may have been using the cash they have on the card that isn’t food stamps. It can be spent on just about anything (as far as I know).

    • JustARandomThought says:

      There is some manager somewhere making 70k a year doing nothing, meanwhile some fry cook is making 7k a year. So? Does that mean the whole middle class needs to be controlled? No. Same logic. Some people abuse the system, not everyone and not the majority. You just remember those cases because they are extreme.

      • pop top says:

        Not only does your example have nothing to do with what I said, but you missed my entire point. I don’t care what people who make their own money do with it, but I do care about what people do with the money that comes out of my taxes. I don’t believe that the entire middle class should be controlled (the middle class shouldn’t be on welfare anyway), and I wasn’t talking about the middle class at all. You fail at reading comprehension.

        • Pax says:

          You are laboring under a serious misconception.

          Food Stamps are not cash, and you cannot withdraw them as a “cash advance”. Period. And that’s Federal law.

          The same card used to access your food stamps, is also used to access any cash benefits you may be receiving from the State (social security goes to a bank account, instead).

          And, regardless … if you blocked cash advances, HOW WOULD PEOPLE PAY THEIR RENT?!?

          My landlord – the Lowell Housing Authority, which runs the Federal housing project I live in, doesn’t accept debit cards, EBT cards, or even personal checks. “Money order, or bust”.

          Inability to take my benefits out as a cash advance, would mean I couldn’t pay my rent. Which would render me homeless.

          Is THAT what you’re suggesting? Or, as I suspect, did you simply not really think your plan through all that well?

          • pop top says:

            Maybe I’m using the wrong term for it, but you like you said, you can get cash from your Bridge card if you receive certain types of benefits. Maybe the government could come up with a voucher system for housing assistance that people could use for their rent checks so that the cash benefits couldn’t be abused.

          • AustinTXProgrammer says:

            I’m not so worried about the CASH benefits being abused, I don’t like seeing FOOD stamp abuse.

            Now I have a major issue with the housing authority requiring money orders. That just forces recipients to waste more money on fees, etc. Question: What about online bill pay? The checks issued by the banks are neither money orders, nor personal checks. I have yet to find anyone who won’t take them, but I am sure that doesn’t mean much.

            • Geekmom says:

              I think he’s saying you probably think they used their foodstamps to buy it, but that they used other money they have that uses the same card as foodstamps.

              Some places if your child support is handled through the state (takes it out of his paycheck) it also goes on a foodstamps or foodstamps looking card.

            • Pax says:

              Online bill pay? Nope, the Housing Authority doesn’t do that, either.

              They have their system, they like it, and they consider themselves (only partly correctly) to be “the government”.

              Hell, it’s a struggle each month, just to get them to give me a frelling receipt – even when I point out to them the multiple times they’ve “forgotten” to mark my rent as paid, and sent me a preliminary eviction notice … EVEN THOUGH THEY HAD CASHED AND DEPOSITED THE MONEY ORDER A WEEK OR MORE BEFOREHAND.

              So. Yeah. Online bill pay? FUCK, no … I’m not letting them anywhere near ANY of my banking information, if I can help it.

              • AustinTXProgrammer says:

                I certainly wasn’t advocating direct draft. I can put in a name, address, amount, and when into my banks web site and they mail a check. They even pay for the stamp.

                • Pax says:

                  My housing authority won’t accept personal checks, either.

                  Money order or cashier’s check, only.

                  There are plenty of private landlords who also will not accept personal checks. Typically, this is common at the lower-priced end of the rental market … where people on benefits often find themselves living.

              • AustinTXProgrammer says:

                I would also imagine that there are fees for getting the money from the EBT card, fees for getting a money order, plus a trip to the store that may not be feasible given weather and disability.

                It seems like a free handout of tax dollars to the check cashing business. And at the expense of those that can least afford it.

                At the very least don’t point to one flawed area of government and suggest how it forces another area to remove safeguards.

                Cash benefits would be best handled with direct deposit like SSDI and SSI. Any state cash benefits going on a card are part of some contract with a bank to rip off the taxpayers, at least if the direct deposit isn’t also an option.

  14. TinaBringMeTheAx says:

    At my job, I don’t get paid if I don’t follow certain rules: Work a certain number of hours, dress appropriately, don’t refer to clients as scum bags (to their faces), properly fill out my time sheet. It’s not my boss being paternalistic or discriminatory, it’s just the rules. If I don’t like, I can seek employment elsewhere.

    Right now food stamp recipients cannot use them to purchase tobacco or alcohol and have not the slightest problem with extending the ban to soda or any other product that has not only has no nutritional value whatsoever, but is bad for you. It’s just the rules.

  15. courtachino says:

    I am a case manager in Virginia, so I handle SNAP (food stamps), TANF (cash assistance), and Medicaid cases. In Virginia, SNAP benefits are good for almost any kind of food, except alcohol, and already-prepared meals (think pre-made sandwiches, etc). It’s ridiculous how much money people spend on junk food, however, I don’t think there should be additional laws restricting what people can and cannot buy with their benefits (it’s none of my business). People need to learn how to budget their benefits every month, make food last longer, and shop smarter. Unfortunately, most clients will spend a large chunk of their money on the 1st and will be struggling at the end of the month. Buying soda with benefits is hardly the biggest problem with SNAP benefits.

    • lettucefactory says:

      What, someone who actually has experience with the subject at hand? How many people will pass this comment by in their haste to pontificate.

      Seriously, thanks for providing an informed opinion. I don’t think “guess what I saw at the grocery store, OMG” counts as informed.

      • courtachino says:

        I was at a baby shower a month or so ago, and told my friend’s parents/friends that I was a social services case worker. Can you believe the type of stupid questions I get asked? I swear to God one of them asked me: “So what’s the highest number of children you have seen on one case?” I wanted to smack her. I just made up a random number, to which she said: “I bet it was a single mother, too!”

        I get uncomfortable when it comes to people saying that recipients should be drug tested. I just stay quiet and just act interested. Most of my client’s are great, decent people, and are unfairly judged by the masses just because they receive assistance. People automatically think that everyone on assistance is stupid, a drug user, a single mother, and has twenty children by twenty different men. That’s unfair, and I hate it.

        One thing I HATE, HATE, HATE is “I saw someone buy food with benefits and they are getting into a million dollar car.” So what? Could be a car they won, one they borrowed, or maybe the paid it off before they got benefits.

        Okay, I am ranting (and I could go on and on and on), but it upsets me when people just spew random crap when they don’t know what they are talking about.

        • weestrom says:

          See Costner below for a prime example of the crap I listen to every day at my office full of wingnuts.

          • Bativac says:

            “There is no nutritional value in soda, candy, etc. Assistance programs should serve a basic need and that need is nutrition. If a product doesn’t meet that need, then it should be disqualified. Assistance programs should offer the basics – bread, milk, cheese, eggs, cereal, rice, fruits and vegetables, grains etc.”

            This is a “wingnut” comment? I’m not a wingnut, but I totally agree with the above statement. Public assistance programs should indeed provide for nutritional items needed for a healthy lifestyle. Not Coke and Snickers.

        • fundelman says:

          I totally understand what you’re saying, but don’t you think that the first thing that should happen when a person hits hard times is that they change their life to eliminate as many luxuries as possible?

          If you hit hard times and are forced to apply for assistance, that’s fine and I’m glad we have these programs, but I don’t think that it can be denied that many people on this type of assistance haven’t come to the realization that their lives have changed and that they need to live much more modestly than they may have in the past. Heck, I know people who don’t qualify for any assistance and are going through EXTREMELY hard times right now and it’s as if they think that it’s their right for their lives to be completely unchanged by their unfortunate circumstances.

          It’s a hard realization in a country that sells that idea that there is nowhere to go but up.

          • courtachino says:

            Oh, I totally agree. I have seen some cases where someone lost their job/source of income, and are still paying for cable, internet, cell phone, etc. If I were to lose my job, my luxury items would be going bye-bye.

        • aja175 says:

          Wait wait wait. I have to get drug tested if I want to get paid, pretty much everybody does except those on welfare. Why is that ok?

          • RandomHookup says:

            I’m sorry, but most jobs don’t require drug testing. I haven’t been drug tested since 1990 when I went to work for a big IT company (and the companies I’ve worked for are pretty big places).

            • aja175 says:

              My experience here in NY has been that just about every job I’ve had regardless of the size of the company required at least pre-employment drug testing. I’m not sure anymore, but companies used to get tax breaks based on drug testing their employees.

              Regardless, I still have to go piss in a cup if I want to get paid. Why shouldn’t those whom my income helps afford those same “comfort” or “luxury” items I couldn’t buy without having passed a drug test?

              • terrillja says:

                There was a lawmaker in SC(I think) who was pushing to create a law that people on unemployment would be subject to random dug tests since they are supposed to be looking for work, and part of looking is being eligible to work there by passing a drug test. Of course the ACLU went nuts about it, but it was an interesting idea based on a solid logic. Why give people money to hold them over until they get a job if they can’t pass a drug test and thus can’t get a job?

              • Pax says:

                A lot of people, like myself, who are receiving Food Stamps as an adjunct to our Social Security benefits? Well, those who aren’t elderly and retired, had to prove to a medical board of inquiry, that we were in fact disabled.

                Trust me. That procedure is a LOT more invasive than just peeing in a cup.

            • DcChick says:

              Wow where do you live? In the past 15 years I’ve lived in Miami, Austin, and DC..and *every* single job has required a drug test. I have a CS degree and do IT work.

              • RandomHookup says:

                I live in Massachusetts and have worked for very big name tech companies. Lots of companies don’t do drug testing (and most that do only do it at the start of your employment — not very random).

        • Arcaeris says:

          I don’t get your comment about the car. You say that people should change their behaviors, so don’t you think if they have an item of significant value (a car) they should sell it and use that money?

          If I fell on hard times, you better believe that before applying for assistance and begging the taxpayers for money that I would sell my car, take the $12k, buy another pretty crappy car for $2k, and use the $10k remaining to pay my bills and rent and food until I could get another job.

          It seems like the smartest choice to me. Why is it unreasonable to expect people to downgrade their mode of transportation (and getting some cash) before taking money from the public coffers?

          • pecan 3.14159265 says:

            Well, one obvious issue is if you have a car loan. If you had a car loan and just fell on hard times (meaning it was a reasonable decision at the time, but you’re not doing as well now), it’s probably easier to keep paying the car payment and keep the car, rather than sell the car and use all of that money to pay the remainder of the car loan. Then, you’re out of a car and the money from it.

            The point is, you can’t really judge based on a vehicle.

        • richcreamerybutter says:

          The first thing that comes to mind with the car comment is that this could be a scenario completely unrelated to actual qualified FS recipients, namely organized crime. In that case, one qho asks such a question probably should be addressing someone in law enforcement.

      • Rectilinear Propagation says:

        Seriously, thanks for providing an informed opinion.

        I second this.

    • MustWarnOthers says:

      I don’t really understand your logic though.

      So you’re saying that there shouldn’t be restrictions on Junk food, but that recipients will just need to budget their usage better?

      How is that going to happen? A mass brainwashing of lower income families?

      • courtachino says:

        I really think that there should be a class (voluntary, mandatory, I don’t know) on how recipients can use their benefits in a smarter way (buying food on sale, getting a good deal, preparing meals and using leftovers, how to eat healthy on their benefits, etc.). Right now, there isn’t. There’s no fact sheet (that I know of) to send recipients to help them budget better. There’s no classes (that I know of) to teach them the above things. I really think there should be, is what I was saying. But I really don’t think what kind of food/drinks recipients can buy should be further restricted.

        Here’s what happens 99% of the time. Most recipients have a BUY, BUY, BUY mentality on the 1st will use a majority of their benefits on that day. By the end of the month, their benefits have been exhausted, and will call me to complain that they “have no food.” I think a class or even an information sheet could help recipients budget better. That’s all I’m saying.

      • courtachino says:

        What I was saying is that I don’t think there should be further restrictions on what people can or cannot buy with benefits. HOWEVER, I think there should be some sort of class/brochure/pamphlet/something that recipients can use in order to help them understand how to use thier benefits in the best way (spending smartly, using leftovers, etc). Right now, recipients are just approved for SNAP and just, really, go wild with their benefits.

        Most recipients have a BUY, BUY, BUY mentality on the 1st and a majority of the benefits will be used that day. If given information on how to use benefits in a better way, maybe recipients will actually get more bang for their benefits and will learn some budgeting/life skills along the way.

        • richcreamerybutter says:

          Many many years ago I received food stamps in the state of New York for about 9 months. At that time, they did have a booklet with suggestions, but the recipes were abysmal. I’d love to see a celebrity chef tackle this problem by contributing some delicious, inexpensive recipes to distribute to FS recipients.

      • ShariC says:

        It’s called “education”, not “brainwashing.”

    • jesirose says:

      I think it is your business, as well as the public’s business, because that money comes from our taxes. It’s no one’s business what someone else buys with money they earned. But when part of that money you earn goes to pay for other people’s food, you have a right to dictate what it’s spent on. (IMO.)

    • FrugalFreak says:

      3 things that would help
      1. no sales tax on food
      2. lower the price of nutritional food
      3. have grocery stores in more neighborhoods.

      • Eric Jay says:

        Your point #1 is within the government’s control, and in my state, we don’t have sales tax on food… I think that makes sense. #2 and #3 are not really within the government’s control.

        I think the realities of cheap, processed, unhealthy food make #2 difficult. The way to overcome it would be to subsidize purchases of healthy food and not unhealthy… which seems to be what Bloomberg is going for here. Drawing the lines, however, gets messy. Often times, ingredients to prepare a meal are healthier and a better value than buying a frozen dinner, but then you have to factor in time (especially for minimum wage earners working multiple jobs), ability to cook without burning/ruining (and thereby wasting) the ingredients, etc.

        #3 is even more of a challenge. In my city, for example, a grocery store went out of business several years ago in a low-income neighborhood. The city and the community have been actively courting other grocery chains, but every one has said that they’re not interested. The area is densely populated, but the only places to get food are convenience stores. For reference, I picked an address near the grocery store that closed, and asked Google Maps for public transit directions to the nearest supermarket. It gave me two options — a 1.75 mile walk, or a route that involved two different buses and a 0.75 mile walk. Reasonable for some, but maybe not with a week’s worth of groceries.

  16. Costner says:

    There is no nutritional value in soda, candy, etc. Assistance programs should serve a basic need and that need is nutrition. If a product doesn’t meet that need, then it should be disqualified. Assistance programs should offer the basics – bread, milk, cheese, eggs, cereal, rice, fruits and vegetables, grains etc. Basically things you would find on a basic food pyramid, and last I checked soda and candy weren’t anywhere to be found on any food pyramid.

    I know hard working people who can’t afford to buy soda and chips and sugary snacks because they make just enough to not qualify for assistance, yet not enough to blow their limited income on treats. Instead they drink tap water and make ramen noodles or mac & cheese. Why should the government subsidize someone’s sweet tooth?

    This idea is simply common sense and I applaud Bloomberg for making a stand. I can’t tell you how many times I have been in the grocery store and saw someone using an EBT card to buy a cartload of little debbies, doritos, and diet coke. It disgusts me that my tax dollars are buying crap I wouldn’t even feed to my own child. It makes me even more upset when I am walking out and see that very same person jump into a $45k Yukon Denali with $4k worth of rims like I did a few months ago – but that is a rant for another day.

  17. SugarMag says:

    You cant purchase soap or a rotessiere chicken with food stamps so restricting food stamps to only foods with nutritional value is fit in my opinion. It is already restricted somewhat.

    In my own budget, soda is a luxury item, as is ice cream. No cash, no buy. Helping needy people eat real food for their health is fine by me; buying doritoes and soda for receipients (and/or kids especially) isn’t OK.

  18. quijote says:

    I agree that food stamps should not buy pure junk. But it seems like this could be a slippery slope. How much sugar is too much? Should certain cereals be off limits? I think a certain leeway in what food stamps can buy gives those who use them some semblance of freedom and dignity.

  19. trey says:

    thats it Bloomberg, kick the poor, cause the rich kick back and he cant take a chance losing their support.

  20. Foot_Note says:

    Think part of the problems are:
    1) if you live in a urban area you have 2 choices A) shop at some small store, that charges more or B) take transportation
    2) quality, healthy foods can cost more money, harder to find (see small stores with lousy fruits, etc)

  21. wonderkitty now has two dogs says:

    It bothers me just as much as the next guy that a lot of people on assistance buy crap food and don’t feed their kids well, either. Look at the overweight majority of the poor. You can’t buy hot food with aide, but you buy a a 12-pack of Coke a day and the Snickers to go with it. I think it’s crap, HOWEVER…

    I’m not one for dehumanizing people because they’re on assistance. Putting sugar limits is a little too Big Brother for me, and I might not like a lot of other humans, but I don’t deny their right to make some of their own choices; yes, even on food stamps.

    • letgodchoose says:

      The stores are partly to blame. Where I live the Big Y supermarket always has b1g2 free sales… guess what the list:

      1. Chips ahoy cookies
      2. Lays potato chips
      3. Cheez its
      4. Pepsi soda

      So, blame the supermarket for pushing the comfort food to get people to buy. The allure of buying 1 item and getting 2 free to fill an empty stomach is too much temptation.

  22. MustWarnOthers says:

    Finally an article that I think we ALL agree on (Except the first post, which may have been a Troll).

    Government assistance should be for necessities only, plain and simple.

    Often times you’ll notice that people of a low income level have very poor diets to begin with. Without getting on a long tangent about the quality of foods which are subsidized and pushed on society (low quality meat, fat and sodium laden foods, foods filled with HFCS), ruling out junk from Assistance programs would have a double effect.

    1. It would very likely reduce the strain of cost on assistance programs. People may buy less overall if they only buy the healthy necessities (Meats, Fish, Grain, Fruits and Veggies, Dairy), instead of buying those items AND junk food.

    2. Increase in overall health of lower income families. This would have a positive effect on their quality of life, health, decrease medical costs, and the health benefits could even be a slight push to their employment rate.

    They need to overhaul this and essentially “herd” assistance users into healthier food choices.

    • Rectilinear Propagation says:

      Finally an article that I think we ALL agree on

      You must not have read the comments.

    • Pax says:

      “(Except the first post, which may have been a Troll).”

      No, my post was not at all a troll. It’s the absolute honest truth.

    • pegasi says:

      part of the problem with “requiring” that people on assistance only purchase “healthy” foods is that what’s deemed healthy foods such as fresh fruits and veggies cost a lot more than things like packaged pasta and spaghetti sauce, mac and cheese, and canned tuna. those who truly stretch their assistance to last buy things like these, and not doritos and soda.

      Many states only give maximum of about $120 per person per month in snap aid, presuming no other resources. Let me see you eat 3 meals a day that qualify as “healthy” with fresh veggies etc, on that amount of money. When you have $120 a month to eat on, you most often end up eating a lot of pasta based dishes, and they wonder why poor people end up obese… it’s the ultra high carb diet which is all they can afford.

  23. veritybrown says:

    The problem goes way deeper than soda or chips. It’s a problem of culture. When you get generations of welfare recipients eating only the bad carbs that tend to be available at convenience stores, the idea of eating (let alone learning to prepare) any kind of healthy food goes out the window.

    I had some young friends who grew up on welfare in Chicago. They had no idea how to handle money. Even though our small town has several grocery stores, they would go buy their groceries (with EBT/food stamps) at a convenience store (even though it was further from their house!). When he got a decent job, his idea of the “smart” thing to do was to go to Rent-A-Center and sign up for some grossly overpriced furniture, because he literally couldn’t grasp the idea of the total price vs. the “it’s only a little bit every week.” There were basic life-skills missing! I did what I could to teach them better money-management skills, but they ended up going back to Chicago, and probably back to the same welfare lifestyle and mentality.

    • MustWarnOthers says:

      My Fiancee and I live in a pretty nice loft apartment in NY, right below us is a family who is on lots of government assistance.

      They are on welfare, the building is Section 8 approved, the woman is on Disability and I imagine they use WIC/Foodstamps.

      Ive helped the husband out with some little computer problems here and there (he has some type of slight palsy) when I have time.

      Anytime I’ve been in their apartment, the house is littered with junk food. Just their Coffee table alone had chips, candy, 2 liter bottles of soda, an industrial sized container of Mayonnaise used for dipping (not to be judgmental, but that was horrifying) and other garbage goods.

      The woman is extremely, extremely obese and cannot work because of it. While I don’t mind giving a portion of my paycheck to help these individuals, there must be rules.

      What good are we doing ourselves and these recipients by perpetuating these types of lifestylse?

    • cosmic.charlie says:

      Yeah it comes down to their skill set (or lack there of). I was listening to a news story a few years ago on NPR that revolved around teaching HS students basic job skills. One of the things that I found appalling was how very basic they needed to go:

      The first lesson they work on is how to set an alarm clock.

  24. tator says:

    I was laid off this summer and now have snap ($288/mo for a family of three). Yes my teenage daughter, who is fit, drinks soda. With judicious planning I am able to manage to use little extra money on food (its $9.50 a day for the thee of us) while maintaining a diet appropriate for a diabetic (high on veg with limited refined carbs). I do object to some other items being included in the program. I’ve seen people buying LARGE birthday cakes and quantities of crab legs. Also, ice and maybe gum can be bought with snap. I think the small luxury of soda should be allowed by look at the high dollar items.

    • windycitygirl68 says:

      Crab legs. God help us all. Really, crab legs? Well, I guess they can’t get out to the all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet to fill up there.

  25. Slave For Turtles says:

    Soft drinks are not “food.”

    I understand the comfort-argument, but special treats require special funding, not milk-bread-eggs sort of funding.

    • evnmorlo says:

      Bloomberg is one of the world’s largest pigs, and this ban is just so he can flaunt the size of his haunches, since it will accomplish nothing.

  26. RandomHookup says:

    Do you think the big money cola lobbyists will let this happen? I’m sure big food producers have squashed (no pun intended) any previous efforts to limit food stamp purchases.

  27. wonderkitty now has two dogs says:

    Upon thinking about it, I’d be fine with a specific soda restriction and specific candy restrictions. When it comes down to ingredients, I think it’s going to be too much of a slippery slope.

  28. zibby says:

    I would be in favor of providing food stamp recipients with all the cheap sugary soda they can drink, free of charge.

  29. EcPercy says:

    Well since soda is not a food… I don’t have a problem with them banning the use of food stamps to buy it. Honestly, you should not be using government aid for anything that’s not classified as food. “Junk” food still isn’t real food and should not be allowed to be purchased. After all you are getting FOOD Stamps… implying that the aid was meant to be used for food like.. Milk, Juice, Eggs, Cheese, Meat, Vegetables, and Certain Cereals.

    There is another deterrent for people buying junk food. Put a scale in the front of every shelf. When you walk up to grab an item it weighs you. If you are say 300lbs trying to pick up a box of ho hos then your price for that item would change to say $25 and obviously the guy that’s like 110lbs would get the normal price.

    Well that’s my .2c for what it’s worth…

    • dr_drift says:

      You should really try thinking. It’s not that hard and it’ll save you from looking like, well, I think you get the idea.

    • Slave For Turtles says:

      The problem with the scale thing is 5-year olds would get away with grabbing all sorts of Little Debbie snacks. Then again, they rarely have the money to buy such things, so it becomes someone else’s problem.

      I don’t have a problem with special treats, really, just not on my dime. When you’re in bad financial straits, luxuries go first.

    • Pax says:

      “There is another deterrent for people buying junk food. Put a scale in the front of every shelf.”

      I have two words for you, Sir, and they are not “happy birthday” …!! >=

  30. dr_drift says:

    People on food stamps should ONLY HAVE THE NECESSITIES to survive in life, NOTHING MORE. If you apply for food stamps, you should be forced to sell all entertainment products contained within your home before the first cent of MY TAX DOLLARS are sent to you. Use your TV and DVD collection to fund your COSTLY SODA BINGES, because I’m sure as hell not. I don’t want you listening to the radio in your car, I don’t want you going to the movies, I don’t want you having ANY FUN. YOU’RE NOT HAVING FUN ON MY DOLLAR, FILTHY PROLE. If I’m going to pay for your (probably fat and lazy) ass to SIT AROUND DRINKING COKE AND SPRITE ALL DAY, then maybe I should starting BUYING EVERYONE IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD CUPCAKES AND FRENCH FRIES! I mean, come on! If you’re not looking for a job all day every day, then I’M NOT GOING TO BE YOUR SUGAR DADDY, in any sense of the word sugar. I WORK TOO HARD FOR THIS! “But the econom-” BUT NOTHING! I don’t want your excuses, I don’t want your attitude, and I don’t want your appreciation. I want you to get off your ass and get a job and STOP STEALING THE TAX MONEY OUT OF MY WALLE-HNNNNNGGGGGGG

  31. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    Is hating on poor people going to be the new fat-bashing?

    • dr_drift says:

      Totally, and I don’t think you realize how awesome it is. Fat people own computers, poor people don’t. We don’t have to worry about them ever seeing this stuff! Ha!

    • Slave For Turtles says:

      :-( Halloween is coming. Shouldn’t be surprised if there’s more trolls about. No treats for them, sorry.

      • knoxblox says:

        Exactly. It’s ironic that this concept of “people need to stop begging” defeats the idea of giving out candy on Halloween.

        • 99 1/2 Days says:

          Last I heard passing out treats on Halloween was voluntary. Contributing to welfare programs (for taxpayers) is not.

  32. MustWarnOthers says:

    How’s about a small portion of assistance is set aside for luxury items?

    That would require an entire reclassification of which foods fall into which groups.

    I don’t mind lending a helping hand ($$), but it would be very disappointing to see a family go ape-shit with the sugary, fattening foods and end up putting even more of a strain on our healthcare system.

  33. bcsus83 says:

    Personally, having used food stamp benefits in the past, I would have no problem with this. Food stamps should be used for things you truly need, not luxuries, like sodas. The mental health argument doesn’t really fly with me. If it’s a mental health issue, they can use two bucks of their own money to buy themselves a 20-oz soda every now and then if it’s that big of a deal.

    If you are using government assistance from the Dept. of Agriculture to buy your groceries, you should be getting the most nutrition out of it possible. Soda has no nutrition in it whatsoever.

  34. goldgecko4 says:

    I can’t really agree with this. Not only as an frequent soda-drinker, but as someone who DOES work full-time and pays his taxes. Should people spend their limited resources on food other than soda? Absolutely. Should we MAKE them spend those resources in a certain way? Absolutely not. It’s a slippery slope, because ideally people on food stamps would only spend their food on a nutrient-rich slurry, right? But that’s not the world we live in.

    Oh, and for everyone complaining about how THEY are spending YOUR money, get over yourselves. If you think by cutting soda out of the food benefits program you would pay one cent less in taxes, you’re kidding yourself.

  35. junip says:

    I think this is great. There is nothing good for you about soda. If you’re on food stamps you should probably be buying FOOD with them. Drink water, it’s better for you.
    If you really hate it, then figure out how to support yourself and get off food stamps.

    • veritybrown says:

      I hate to have to tell you this, but a lot of food stamp money ends up being traded to others for stuff like booze, cigarettes, and drugs. It’s pretty simple, really–you buy food for a person who has cash, and they supply you with the stuff you can’t buy with food stamps. Almost everyone I know who has food stamp benefits does this.

    • Pax says:

      If you really hate it, then figure out how to support yourself and get off food stamps.

      That’d be kinda hard for folks who’re disabled and permanently unable to work, wouldn’t you think?

  36. ARP says:

    As long as we apply the same scrutiny to all the other goverment subsidies we provide (have we found all those billions that went missing in Iraq), I’m fine with it. For example, when we give money to the oil companies, we must make sure they don’t get paid very much, fly first class, etc. or they shouldn’t get that money.

    Or is that that poor people are easy to pick on?

    BTW- I’m actually in favor of this, but I find the double standard when it comes to other government aid, annoying.

    • Erika'sPowerMinute says:

      Agreed. I don’t want tax money wasted on crap–whether it’s crap for poor people or crap for executives–and I’m a mean old conservative who thinks that people have responsibility for the messes they make of their lives. That said, making political hay out of pitting the working class against the welfare class is a pathetic, vile strategy.

  37. u1itn0w2day says:

    Abuse and not the use of soda is the problem. You need calories to survive. Yeah lots of sugar is not the answer but neither is a anorexic crackhead body. I’d rather see spending on soda than alcohol.

    Nanny stater NYC strikes again!

  38. rubicthecube says:

    I’m with you. There was a rough patch when I was a kid where we ate pretty much only rice and beans and whatever else was available. Nobody needs junk food to survive. Unless you’ve been poor and on food stamps, your arguments don’t hold up as well. Objectivity doesn’t work in this situation. I once asked my parents why they never bought junk food when we were poor, my dad replied (and I’m paraphasing here),Because you wouldn’t know how to prioritize as an adult. What lesson would we have taught you if we used government aid for unnecessary items? If you can afford to buy junk food, you don’t need food stamps. It’s a form of help, not a luxury.

  39. Ahardy55 says:

    This seems fair. Therefore, no one at AIG can drink soda anymore.

  40. jeff_the_snake says:

    it sounds like a good idea on the surface but it’s a slippery slope that leads to a long list of unhealthy foods being ineligible for food stamp purchases. limiting recipients to healthy foods wouldn’t be a bad thing and if i was still on benefits (had food stamps for a bit 5 or 6 years ago) i’d be ok with it.

    the problem is how to do you administer such a system without wasting all the money you’re saving and then some? also, i lose several hours of my life a month standing in line while benefit recipients conduct two or three transactions to pay for the contents of their cart. is it fair to make that longer by adding in the inevitable arguments over non-approved foods?

  41. PsiCop says:

    The forces of the Food Police have donned their riot gear and are marching boldly to war with things they personally dislike. Must be great to be a Mayor and have the authority to patrol people’s shopping carts.

    Really, if sugared sodas are as bad as Hizzonner & the Food Police claim, they ought to petition the FDA ban them as toxic. If they won’t, then they need to shut up and stop sticking their sniveling noses into people’s lives.

    • 99 1/2 Days says:

      You live on other people’s money, get prepared to listen to what they have to say.

      • PsiCop says:

        If I thought for a moment that the issue here was “other people’s money,” I wouldn’t have said anything. It is not. Hizzoner and the Food Police are on record as wanting the existence of sugar … in any form … abolished. Their interest is NOT in controlling the spending of “other people’s money.” It is, instead, a “wedge” meant to hammer home the abolition of sugar.

        To paraphrase Martin Niemöler … “First they took the sugared sodas away from food stamp recipients, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a food stamp recipient. Then they forbid sugared sodas altogether, and I didn’t speak up because I didn’t drink sodas. Then they forbid putting sugar of any kind into any food product, and I didn’t speak up because I don’t like sweets. Then they took away everything in my refrigerator and pantry … but by then the Food Police had too much power, and there was nothing I could do.”

        When at long last you’re allowed to eat nothing but rocks and twigs, you’ll remember having let the Food Police get in the door, by having targeted food stamp recipients.

  42. mindaika says:

    Well, considering that humans have survived for thousands of years without HFCS loaded sodas, I think that people who are food stamps can do the same. I love my soda, but if I end up on food stamps, I’m not going to use them to pay for it.

  43. Doughboy says:

    I think it would make more sense to look at all the assistance programs that people recieve. Focusing on one little aspect doesn’t fix the real problems with the system.

    Watch them ban it and people find a way to buy the right ingrediants to make their own at home. Oh look you can – http://www.alpharubicon.com/kids/makesoda.html

  44. Doughboy says:

    I think it would make more sense to look at all the assistance programs that people recieve. Focusing on one little aspect doesn’t fix the real problems with the system.

    Watch them ban it and people find a way to buy the right ingrediants to make their own at home. Oh look you can – http://www.alpharubicon.com/kids/makesoda.html

  45. Galium says:

    All the food nazi’s are correct, especially Bloomberg. Bloomberg can not even go by the mandated election laws, so he changes them to suit himself. People on subsistance should only eat “organic food” . With their monthly alotment they will be able to afford one potato and one carrot. It is so nice to see people telling others what they can and can not eat. Does this mean that Roe vs Wade is no longer in affect? If we can tell others what they can eat we should be able to tell others they can not have an abortion? It is all the same, somone telling others to only do what they approve of.

  46. sreppok says:

    I say, Good! I once saw a family ahead of me in line buying $200 worth of prepackaged meals, junk food, sodas, and kids packaged lunches (it all looked like kid food for school), and of course, they whipped out the EBT card. The main thing was, our cart, filled with fresh veggies, fruit, bulk foods, and things which we need to make ourselves was twice as full for less than half as much money.

    Junk food is expensive, not healthy, and should not be paid for by the government. To those who say that the government has no right to declare what one can or cannot buy with food stamps, and also to those who say that sometimes people need “comfort food,” how about one buying cigars, alcohol, of porn with an EBT card?

    There must be some limits, and those limits must be within reason. Junk food is not reasonable.

    • Pax says:

      EBT cards include CASH benefits, dearie. Not Social Security – but your state Welfare program? Oh, yes.

      If I were on Welfare instead of SSDI, yes indeed, I could whip out my EBT card and buy myself a gallon jug of rotgut, a box of cheap cigars, and a pile of raunchy porno magazines, if that’s how I wanted to spend that money.

      It’d be dumb to blow the money that way, but I could.

  47. Chris says:

    I assume that’s whole grain bread, not fluffy, void-of-nutrition white bread, right Pax?

  48. alexmmr says:

    If the government is giving you money for nothing (ie, you are not providing a service equal to the amount of that money), they have every right to ensure that money will not be used in a manner that will cost more money in the future.

    The goal of that money is to provide you with the basics you need for survival. If you go and spend it on nothing but doritos and soda, you’re going to end up costing the government more money in the future as your health degenerates and you need a variety of medical subsidies.

    People will always make bad choices. If I am providing for you, I have every right to make decisions on what exactly it is that I’m going to provide for you. I want to provide you with healthy food, I don’t want to provide you with hostess.

  49. quieterhue says:

    Question: Are there any other current limitations on the type of food you can buy with foods stamps? If not, eliminating soda just seems arbitrary. Yes, it has tons of empty calories, but so do lots of other foods.

    That said, if people are so hungry that they need to rely on food stamps, I do question the wisdom of spending your small food budget on soda. However, I don’t think I would arbitrarily pass a law against it since that seems like a slippery slope to eliminating other types of food like cookies, chips, etc. The fact is, high-sugar/high-fat junk food tends to be the cheapest food on the shelves. So if you are hungry and have an extremely limited budget, there is a certain logic to choosing those types of foods over more nutritious, but less filling, foods like fruit, veggies, etc.

    • RandomHookup says:

      Very few…pretty much anything. Here are the provisions I found online:

      Households CAN use SNAP benefits to buy:
      Foods for the household to eat, such as:
      – breads and cereals
      – fruits and vegetables
      – meats, fish and poultry; and
      – dairy products
      Seeds and plants which produce food for the household to eat.

      Households CANNOT use SNAP benefits to buy:

      Beer, wine, liquor, cigarettes or tobacco
      Any nonfood items, such as:
      — pet foods;
      — soaps, paper products; and
      — household supplies.
      Vitamins and medicines.
      Food that will be eaten in the store.
      Hot foods

  50. Jimmy37 says:

    If the poor want comfort food, let them pay for it with their own cash. As a taxpayer, I will pay for the necessities of life. You’re responsible to pay for your own fun.

  51. ShariC says:

    From a practical viewpoint (never mind that people poor enough to use food stamps are already living a miserable life regardless of what they eat or drink), boxing in the lifestyle of poor people is likely to lead not to healthier living, but to seeking alternatives to gain more freedom to choose. This would include crime (likely selling drugs as that is what most turn to when they need cash) and under the table employment. I grew up in a poor rural area and I saw this first-hand.

    Rather than micromanaging how the poor use assistance, energies would be better spent elevating their status and providing reasonable jobs. At the moment, on average, there are 5 applicants for every available job, and it would be logical to conclude that unskilled work has more applicants than skilled work. This is a social issue that needs to be dealt with on a macro level, not on a micro one. If you think poor people aren’t miserable enough with the potential to buy junk food for comfort, then you’ve never been very poor.

    Legislation like this is social management at a late stage. You can’t re-write people’s lives after a certain point, at least not in a free country. Live with the fact that people are going to eat things you personally don’t approve of and do things you don’t like, and just get on with your own life and be glad that you aren’t in circumstances where the best part of your day is opening up a can of Coke and a bag of chips. People don’t eat crap food because they love their lives or themselves. They eat it because they’re so miserable it’s all they’ve got, and you want to take that away from them because you’re worried that a tiny piece of your paycheck pays for a tiny bit of their food. The few cents you pay toward food stamps doesn’t entitle you to tell someone else how to live or what to eat, and I’m not sure why anyone would feel they need that power. Tax money is tax money, whether they buy milk, bread, beans, or Coke and chips. It’s still coming out of your paycheck all the same.

  52. windycitygirl68 says:

    And while we’re at it, can we get people using food stamps to stop using the food stamps at the store, then push their cart full of goodies out to their SUV with dubs and lighting, then lock up the car and head over to the nail salon. This is not stereotyping. This happens every day in my neighborhood. I yell at my kids about sneaking the extra box of Fruit Roll Ups in my cart because my budget can’t handle it, but the “card” people don’t seem to mind throwing an extra box or two in their cart and then strolling over to the local Asian nail salon for a relaxing mani/pedi. The entitlement factor in this country has spiraled out of control. Someone needs to rein these folks in.

    • Pax says:

      How sure are you, that it’s their SUV? Maybe it belonged to a friend, or their parents, or an amicable ex-spouse? Hell, maybe it was the rental that their insurance company provided for her use, after their “ho hum normal” sedan was totalled?

      Because, you know what? I’ve never, ever, in my life, known someone who owned an SUV and was on any kind of benefits whatsoever.

  53. RyansChestHair says:

    It was always my understanding that only non-taxable food items were allowed to be paid for with food stamps. Is it true that one can purchase junk food with food stamps? Does anyone know if it varies by state?

  54. RyansChestHair says:

    It was always my understanding that only non-taxable food items were allowed to be paid for with food stamps. Is it true that one can purchase junk food with food stamps? Does anyone know if it varies by state?

  55. nacoran says:

    Store brand is cheaper than bottled water. Some rural areas the water isn’t drinkable (my mom’s house for instance, too much sulfur.) I’m on disability myself. I buy soda with food stamps. I always get diet. The thing people aren’t taking into consideration is the bureaucracy needed to administer something like this. Do we really want food companies lobbying for their brand to be acceptable, and others to be just a little too unhealthy? How about shoppers? It’s already a pain to know what is and isn’t food stamp eligible. Food made in store is often not eligible, because somehow if it’s made in the store that makes the store a restaurant. Food stamp aid is such a small portion of public assistance. Junk food is usually cheap. If people want to help people eat healthier give more money in food stamps (raise the eligibility minimums) or subsidize healthy foods.

    • u1itn0w2day says:

      Are the ” healthier ” alternatives practical and cost effective? Are they accessable? So a bottle of OJ will be cheaper than a Coke?

      That’s an excellent point about access to drinkable water. The whole point of food stamps is to stop someone from starving to death and yet they are restricting the calories that many need good or bad. Yes I can see banning tootsie pops or Budwisers but many need calories.

      And one of the problems with so called healthier food is it’s time sensitive like fruits. You can let cans of soda sit weeks on end and they still will be good to drink. You can’t do that with many fruits/juices.

      Just remember that the purpose of food stamps was to prevent people from starving so if you don’t want inner city NY kids to show up on an infommercial showing their rib cages like a third world orphan so you’ll donate to the charity I’d make sure food stamps recipients have the choice and process to get calories. Also remember food and health education/knowledge is an issue on to it’s own

  56. Adam says:

    Too bad that more and more and more and more and more of our freedoms are being taken away. I see the pro and con side of this, but there are many, many, many more important issues than this…..come on.

  57. legolex says:

    This seems like a hot button topic!

    I used to work at a Grocery Store and saw Food Stamp Abuse. When something the people thought should be covered wasn’t, I was yelled at like it was my fault. I think some restrictions should be applied. Though I’m not familiar with food stamps anymore, I can’t give an opinion on what those restrictions should be, maybe no more Doritos?

  58. Eli the Ice Man says:

    State’s money, state’s decision. Deal with it.

    • Pax says:

      Actually, it’s not hte State’s money at all. Ever. Food Stamps is a FEDERAL program, funded by the Department of Agriculture.

      Additionally, once they put it in a person’s hands, it’s THEIR money, not the governments’ anymore. The only reason Food Stamps are restricted at all is because, in their (now-extinc) PAPER form, they were an entirely separate currency from the traditional “reserve note” dollars.

      But, and let me make this absolutely crystal clear: once the government hands to me any amount of food stamps and says “these are yours” … they are MINE. And they cannot, furthermore, simply “take them back” without affording me my right to Due Process, because it is my property.

      Exactly the same as the normal, reserve-note dollars sitting in my checking account are.

    • BD2008 says:

      Actually, it is the person entitled to the benefits’ money, not the State. The State just facilitates getting it to the people who need it.

  59. dcr says:

    I work at a store where a customer used a bridge card (Michigan’s version of food stamps) to purchase pepsi that was on sale. After the purchase, he went outside, emptied all 108 cans of pepsi, then used the bottle return to get 10.80 cash refund. Turned out to be his mother’s card, so he basically stole from her and the taxpayers.

    • Pax says:

      As reprehensible as that was … one person’s act of fraud certainly does not justify reducing the rights and privileges of millions of other people.

  60. Mr.Grieves says:

    O_O

    What a mistake expanding some of these comments holey moley. People care a lot about food lol.

  61. turquoise25 says:

    I understand that some people believe food stamp recipients shouldn’t be allowed to purchase anything but necessary food (sugar, eggs, milk, veggies, meat, etc.), but who are we to tell others what they can and cannot purchase with the benefits given to them? It is no longer ‘your money’ once deducted from your paycheck, so I don’t wanna see that argument.

    I am disabled and receive benefits. For those who think us benefit receivers are lazy and don’t want to work, you couldn’t be more wrong. I’m very young, and I want to work but I cannot do.

    It truly saddens me, and upsets me that my fellow people think like this. God forbid you or your spouse become disabled…

  62. Calyopi says:

    This is for PAX and anyone else who finds themselves unable to support themselves through no fault of their own. I have no problem with you purchasing the food you want and need.

    Because Guess What Folks – We’re All In This Together. Period. The ratio of honest people vs. dishonest people just milking the system is 4 to 1. And I’m betting not each and every one of the commenters here Not on food stamps or Whatever are perfect little angels either. Lots of fraud/crime/Whatever carried on by lots of folks not on food stamps.

    Life is short and HARD, make your choices, I’ll suport you as much as I can because I believe in Life and The Pursuit Of Happiness, however naive that may be. And I would you PAX would do the same for me if he could. Christ some of you are so damn harsh.