Senator Ritchie’s proposed State Law is a bundle of mixed assumptions, misleading justifications, and utterly vile insinuations against those people in NY who are using SNAP benefits to maintain their basic nutrition.
While the Senator is undeniably correct to discuss the obesity epidemic in the US and here in NY in particular, her attack on SNAP recipients is utterly reprehensible. While she makes an argument against foods that have minimal nutritional value and are often considered junk food – such as cookies, soda, and energy drinks, it’s her repeated claims that something has to be done to prevent people receiving SNAP from getting “better cuts of meat, or lobster,” that is getting the most attention in the press. Not only would it be impossible for the use of SNAP benefits to purchase these items to be contributing to the obestity epidemic that the Senator claims to be trying to deal with, there’s no reason to assume that any significant fraction of SNAP benefits are being used to purchase such items. Until evidence of such widespread purchases can be produced it seems to this writer that there’s little more behind this bill that the continued vilification of the poor that is a constant refrain from the GOP – even as they keep enacting policies to bankrupt more and more workers.
The most offensive part of the whole proposal, however, comes when one looks at what the Senator thinks the financial costs of enacting this boneheaded piece of maliciousness would be: None. Yes, you read that right. This woman, who seems to think that your neighbors who have to take two jobs to pay the rent, and heating costs, and then still qualify for SNAP benefits to be able to feed themselves and their families but are somehow magically overeating on steak and lobster this woman also believes in magical accounting from state employees: Her proposal claims there will be no costs associated with implementing this change in the law – even after specifically tasking two different offices to come up with policies, and lists of foods and beverages to be added to the list of things one can’t buy with SNAP benefits. Either the Senator is so ignorant of the way that the state government works that she assumes there are hordes of underworked staffers in the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance who will have the time to make up her required list of further items to be barred.
Let’s be honest here – this is the same sort of fraudulent thinking behind the claims of wanting to help poor people get into drug rehabilitation programs that is used as a justification for drug screening and testing of applicants in several states – testing that has overwhelmingly found that contrary to the assumptions of the rich and powerful most poor people are too damned poor to afford drugs. It is a moral judgment that if someone is receiving public assistance the public has the right and responsibility to restrict what those people can choose to do with themselves. And far too many people in the public believe that all the poor deserve is gruel, or something equally disheartening because all they need is motivation to be able to go out and get a good paying job. And this in an America where billion dollar companies feel no guilt in telling their employees that, in order to live on the wages paid them, they’ll have to take a second job (which will also not be full time- because that would cost the company more money in required benefits) and make use of SNAP benefits to feed themselves.
And Senator Ritchie begrudges these people so much as a cupcake for celebration? To Hell with her. And the gold-plated SUV she rode in on.