Friday, June 28, 2013

Food Stamp foibles

From time to time you hear people proposing food stamps for New Zealand. My position is they'd be better than cash but still come with their own set of problems. The following from NCPA today lay those problems out:

Food Stamps Are Unsuccessful

June 27, 2013
In recent years, enrollment in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) has increased dramatically, rising from 26 million beneficiaries in 2007 (one in twelve Americans) to nearly 47 million in 2012 (one in seven Americans). Costs have increased dramatically as well, rising from $35 billion in 2007 to $80 billion in 2012, making it the second most expensive means-tested federal welfare program. As such, it is vital to understand the serious flaws in current food stamp programs, says Andrew Montgomery of FreedomWorks.
  • Ineffective at reducing hunger: A report compiled by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) noted that while SNAP has had some positive results, "The literature is inconclusive regarding whether SNAP alleviates hunger and malnutrition in low-income households."
  • Subject to large scale fraud and error: The GAO reports that despite great progress, "The amount of SNAP benefits paid in error is substantial, totaling about $2.2 billion in 2009."
  • Lack of transparency: The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) does not disclose product purchases or how many total SNAP dollars are spent on each product, nor does the USDA disclose how much money retailers make off of SNAP.
  • Form of corporate welfare: Food stamp programs guarantee large corporations consistent cash flow, creating a powerful corporate lobbying group that seeks to prevent cuts or changes to SNAP.
  • Overlap and inefficiencies: A report compiled by the GAO found that, "The 18 food assistance programs show signs of program overlap, which can create unnecessary work and lead to inefficient use of resources." Indeed, administrative costs equal about $5.5 billion per year, or about 10 percent of the value of food stamps distributed.
  • Create dependency: The goal of any government welfare program should be to get people back on their feet, not to keep them in poverty and hunger. Current food stamp programs have little work required as a condition of assistance, encouraging the relatively well off to freeload off the system and those in need to remain in poverty.
Source: Andrew Montgomery, "10 Reasons Food Stamps Need to Be Reformed," FreedomWorks, June 13, 2013.

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