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Travis Rowley: Colt 45 Stamps

Saturday, March 02, 2013


Travis Rowley picks apart one Progressive blog's attempt to weigh in on the food stamp debate.

Samuel Howard is a frequent contributor to the far-left blog RIFuture.org, and he has a gripe with a WPRI story that surfaced this week, a report that exposed the fact that “thousands of dollars in cash assistance were withdrawn from ATMs in liquor stores, bars, smoke shops and even Twin River casino in Dec. 2012.”

As Howard explains, this is really “a miniscule amount.” During this particular month only “$10,000 out of the $3.1 million spent in Rhode Island EBT benefits” was discovered to have been retrieved at these types of locations. “That amounts to 0.32% of all EBT funds.”

I suppose Howard thought he was revealing something much different than what spokesman for the Dept. of Human Services Fred Sneesby pointed out within WPRI’s story: “This a relatively tiny percentage of the transactions of the EBT cards, so it’s a very small number in comparison to number of transactions.”

As WPRI’s headline was “EBT money withdrawn at liquor stores, casino” – and as Sneesby’s quote isn’t found at the very top of WPRI’s article – I suppose we could sympathize with Howard’s exasperation over “the lede that WPRI chose.”

I mean, it must have been quite perturbing for someone who lauds governmental audacity to take money from some people in order to give it to others.

Left Wing Logic

But that’s about as much as one should identify with this local leftist. The rest of Howard’s screed serves only as an illustration of the ignorant extremism found so often on RIFuture.org.

Pleased with himself for pointing out that WPRI “found exactly zero cases of fraud,” Howard attempts to build upon what he clearly perceives to be his argumentative momentum – calling food stamps “the best function of government we have,” categorizing WPRI’s story as a “war on the poor” and labeling it “outrage porn” being used by WPRI only to “get those ratings up.” He goes on to esteem the Keynesian strategy of “spend[ing] during lean years and then sav[ing] during the fat years” – and then suggests that anyone who disagrees is “back asswards.”

When you don’t have money, spend it anyway. That’s the economic logic you find on RIFuture.org.

“100% of December 2012’s [EBT] funds are being used at completely legal locations. In any budget anywhere, that would be cause for celebration, it would be a gold standard by which to hold others accountable,” Howard points out.

Welfare recipients are found to be pulling thousands of dollars in government cash out of ATMs located within dubious locations, and all Howard can do is equate legality with morality – and then call the situation a “cause for celebration.”

I wonder how much Howard would celebrate if I burned down his house after I had Republican legislators make it legal to do so. Would he consider that to be the “gold standard” of GOP activism?

A Modern-Day Socialist

Meanwhile, normal people realize that WPRI’s report – no matter how unimpressed Howard is with it – is the latest in a long line of welfare abuse cases, including a 2011 NBC 10 I-Team investigation that caught “food stamp recipients…using their EBT cards to get cash.”

While taxpayers are relieved to learn that there is legislation “that requires states to ban the use of EBT cards at questionable establishments by 2014,” they are frustrated to witness more evidence of welfare mismanagement.

And they question if they should continue to trust politicians to secure this program’s integrity (if it ever had any). Despite the fact that progressives like Howard accuse them of indulging in “outrage porn,” the average taxpayer rightfully suspects that such programs would be better administered by the states, and they legitimately wonder if these programs are constitutionally authorized in the first place.

But we’re not dealing with the mind of a classical American. We’re dealing with a modern progressive in the age of “We Are All Socialists Now” and “You Didn’t Build That” – someone who continued his attempt to downplay and validate welfare abuse by embarrassingly suggesting that Social Security payouts and tax breaks are the economic and moral equivalent to unqualified disbursements of government cash.

“What about that mortgage credit you received for buying a house? Have you bought any alcohol or tobacco since receiving it? Then you’ve used taxpayer dollars to pay for ‘questionable’ expenses. That’s government money you got,” Howard decides. “What about that Social Security check your grandmother receives? She smoke or drink or gamble? Yes? All three, when she’s at Twin River? Turn her in to the Target 12 Investigators!”

Yes, the misplaced arrogance of ignorant radicals can be irritating. But, again, this is RIFuture.

According to Howard, the difference between welfare and Social Security and tax breaks isn’t that welfare recipients are the beneficiaries of other people’s wealth and labor. No, “the difference between EBT and the mortgage credit and Social Security is that EBT goes to those who need it most.”

To each according to his need! That is, his need to play roulette and party!

Give Me Dependence, Or Give Me Death!

Nearly one of six Americans are enrolled in the SNAP program and Progressives don't seem to mind one bit.

Perhaps the most prominently progressive portion of Howard’s piece is his demonstration of the contempt he has for the average American – people who he believes rely on his compassion, his pity, and his support of politicians who are willing to redistribute your money through the Washington wealth incinerator.

With the identical outlook of the URI professor who argued last year that Rhode Island taxpayers should subsidize the college tuition of illegal immigrants because – if they don’t – illegal teenagers will adopt a criminal lifestyle, Howard believes that a reduction in welfare spending would result in the State “wast[ing] more in court proceedings and imprisonment then we will save.”

Progressives don’t care about poor people. They’re afraid of poor people.

According to Howard, poor people who won’t commit crimes will only be able to restrain themselves because they’ll be dead. He contends that, without food stamps, people will “starve to death.” “Yes, feeding hungry people can be a bit pricey,” Howard reasons. “But you know what’s even more expensive? Burying people and their children.”

People should become accustomed to the fact that it is too much to ask devoted progressives to consider facts such as this one: Zero Americans were “starving in the streets” before the advent of the food stamp program years ago (That’s an approximation, of course. It could have been less than zero.)

But just several decades after the explosion of federal welfare experiments, we find that 50 million Americans are now enrolled in the federal food stamp program. Yet, Howard remains convinced that SNAP is “an amazing program because it automatically scales back as people don’t need it anymore.”

Progressives don’t view one out of six Americans being enrolled in SNAP as a sign and symptom of a cultural crisis. Instead, this is simply what happens while you’re waiting for the economy to pick back up. Until then, taxpayers must endure the weight of 50 million Americans – the people Howard believes would perish without him.

Travis Rowley (TravisRowley.com) is the author of The RI Republican: An Indictment of the Rhode Island Left.


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