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NPR’s ‘Talk of the Nation’ Promotes Food Stamps

April 29, 2013 | Filed Under Anti-Americanism, Budget, Democrats/Leftists, Economy/Finances, Entitlements, Ethics, Government, Journalism, Liberals, Media, Media Bias, NPR, Progressives, Taxes, Warner Todd Huston, Welfare | Comments Off on


NPR’s ‘Talk of the Nation’ Promotes Food Stamps

-By Warner Todd Huston

National Public Radio recently aired a radio program focused on federal food stamps, now known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). NPR presented the assistance program as seemingly costless–in fact, said it was an economic boon to states–and also acted as both an advocate and salesman for SNAP.

Additionally, NPR couldn’t seem figure out why the program had grown so tremendously even though “the economy has kind of started to improve.” Naturally, the taxpayer funded radio show did not note the millions of Americans that have simply given up looking for work in this second great depression.

The program also faulted Republicans saying they wanted to eliminate food stamps and cause poor people to go hungry

On its April 25 broadcast, National Public Radio’s Talk of the Nation, hosted by Neal Conan, featured a program titled, “Signing Up For Food Stamps: The Choice And The Stigma.” The program was essentially a giant advertisement for people to get on food stamps.

The program’s first guest was Krissy Clark, a senior reporter with Marketplace’s Wealth and Poverty desk. When asked about how the SNAP rolls had grown so monumentally over the last four years, Clark expressed shock that it had.

Pointing out that in the 1990s the highest that enrollment in food stamps programs reached was 11 percent of Americans, Clark then reported the program’s growth today saying, “And now food stamp use is up to unprecedented levels. Almost 15 percent of Americans are on SNAP, or about one in seven people.”

Host Conan noted that the economy has been “bad,” but Clark seemed to disagree.

“…that’s what had some people scratching their heads a little bit recently because now, you know, in the last few years, the economy has kind of started to improve, and unemployment is starting to decline, and yet the growth in food stamp use doesn’t seem to be yet,” Clark replied.

Many understand that our dismal unemployment situation hasn’t really improved at all. For her part, Clark did not take into account the millions of Americans that have simply given up looking for a job and have migrated off the unemployment rolls on that basis. That is hardly an improvement.

One of the ways of enlarging SNAP enrollment celebrated by NPR is that the government recently employed a key sales tactic by dumping the stigma-laden name “food stamps,” rebranding the program as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP.

“That connects to this–sort of this lack of–or this lessening of stigma that there is a concerted effort to people had a certain association with the word food stamp. And so Congress decided about five years ago to change the name,” Clark told the host.

Host Conan went on to read an email from an Illinoisan who had tried to run for the State Senate in the 1980s claiming that food stamps were actually a boon to the state’s economy.

“The reasoning was: one, it brings more money to Illinois, stimulates our economy; two, Illinois sends more tax dollars to Washington than it gets back in benefits, this would help right that imbalance,” the emailer wrote.

This runs counter to simple economic logic as government programs do not promote growth but simply redistribute wealth from one sector of the economy to another.

Guest Clark went on to talk about how SNAP is pushed at the state level because “they don’t want this stuff to go unused.”

Echoing the emailer, Clark also said SNAP is an economic plus.

“It also is useful for states because it actually brings federal money as a sort of economic stimulus to grocery stores and to farmers who are making more food.”

Again, this run counter to common sense, economic thinking.

Then came the attacks on Republicans.

Host Conan pointed out that the GOP is looking at ways to reform SNAP. “I think two Republican senators filed legislation last week that would quote, unquote, streamline SNAP, in other words reduce benefits,” he said.

His guest chimed in saying that these reform policies have “a lot of food security and… hunger advocates very worried.”

Clark proceeded to lament that, “we heard, were looking at cuts anywhere from a few billion to several tens of billions of dollars in cuts.”

Neal Conan moved on to a caller who also slammed conservatives as enemies of the poor.

The caller, going by the name Felix, said, “But here in the state of Missouri, we’re surrounded by extremely conservative people who just can’t imagine that others are suffering. They’re part of the one-percenters.”

“So ironically enough, I can’t get out of it. I’m surrounded by the inmates in the asylum, if you’ll accept the analogy,” he added.

Conan next spoke to a caller named Jane who said she worked for the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance. Jane reported that her agency funds “mobile enrollment units” that drive around the state to increase enrollment in SNAP and other state programs.

“…we work with mobile enrollment units. So we have four SNAPmobiles that travel around the state, and Arkansas is a very hungry place. A lot of people struggle with food insecurity,” Jane said.

Even as the enrollment numbers have skyrocketed in the Obama years, though, Jane seemed to insist that things haven’t improved for those in need.

“It’s overcoming those barriers and the stigma and the lies that people believe about SNAP. But unfortunately our culture and political system has influence which is just not helpful at all to people that really need help,” she said.

Jane also pointed out that younger people don’t really apply much stigma to food assistance programs showing how the country has changed from a country that prides itself on self-reliance to one that finds nothing wrong with taking aide from the government.

Conan’s last guest was Dillie Nerios, the partner relations and benefits coordinator for the Treasure Coast Food Bank in Fort Pierce, in Florida. Nerios encouraged people to forget about all their pride and sign up for SNAP anyway.

Nerios also pointed out that the new EBT cards aren’t like doling out paper food stamps at a grocery check counter any more. So, no stigma should embarrass users.

“You’ll go to the grocery store, and you’ll run it through the thing. People don’t even–can’t even see your card. And then you go in and put your code… It’s, like, so easy to use, and no one knows anymore. You’re not pulling out these old coupons that you used to, and then count them out in front of somebody,” Nerios said.

Throughout the show the discussion gave a glowing account of SNAP, touted how wonderfully easy it is to join and use, how no one should be ashamed of going on the dole, and how it makes great economic sense for every community. No opposing view was heard.
____________
“The only end of writing is to enable the reader better to enjoy life, or better to endure it.”
–Samuel Johnson

Warner Todd Huston is a Chicago based freelance writer. He has been writing opinion editorials and social criticism since early 2001 and before that he wrote articles on U.S. history for several small American magazines. His political columns are featured on many websites such as Andrew Breitbart’s BigGovernment.com, BigHollywood.com, and BigJournalism.com, as well as RightWingNews.com, RightPundits.com, CanadaFreePress.com, StoptheACLU.com, AmericanDaily.com, among many, many others. Mr. Huston is also endlessly amused that one of his articles formed the basis of an article in Germany’s Der Spiegel Magazine in 2008.

For a full bio, please CLICK HERE.

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