It is being called one of the greatest wealth redistribution schemes in the history of the planet, but it is also one that is highly favored by some of the country’s largest corporations. In fact, many of them have become semi-dependent on the steady income stream the process provides.
I’m talking about food stamps and other forms of welfare, of course, but not in the sense you may suspect.
One aspect of wealth redistribution via food stamps and welfare payments involves taking money from one group of Americans and transferring it to other groups. But another, more sinister, aspect of this wealth redistribution scheme involves a concept known as crony capitalism – an economic model in which success in business depends on a successful relationship between business people and the government (a government that, in turn, holds the power to regulate said businesses).
Poor economy or bad public policy?
As noted by the news with views website The Daily Sheeple, there has been a steady but dramatic rise in the number of Americans receiving federal food assistance; since 2000, the site reported, the number rose an astounding 171 percent and now stands at a record 47-plus million people, or one in six. In all, more people are now getting food stamp assistance in some form and at some level than in the program’s entire history.
What’s more, the figure is continuing to climb as federal policies under the Obama administration continue to expand eligibility rules for receiving various forms of welfare and food assistance.
As The Daily Sheeple notes, however, the expansion is not due to the reason many might assume:
Most argue this increase simply has to do with the terrible recession and resultant unemployment; but the food stamp program, now known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP, is yet another crony capitalist scheme (surprise, surprise).
Many blame the people who need help instead of pointing the finger at a system designed to get as many people on the dole as possible. The government and the corporations it represents literally advertise to get as many people on food stamps as they can and then keep them there as a captured market for Wall St. banks, mega food corporations that churn out a bunch of crap food, and mega box and grocery stores that sell all that crap.
As the above graphic notes, the process begins when Congress approves ever-larger farm bills, which includes funding for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the agency that oversees the food stamp program.
From there, the food stamp dollars are distributed to states, which then issue them out to their clientele. That clientele then spends those food stamp dollars/credits at mega-retailers (ever wonder why retailers like Walmart, Target and others got into the grocery business?).
The food stamp purchases – which are credited to electronic cards used by recipients – are routed through big banks, which then authorize payment from the Federal Reserve, which pays retailers directly.
Sound like a conspiracy? Well, it likely is, but not in the negative, “tin-foil hat” kind of way.
As noted by The Daily Sheeple, even reasonable efforts to reform the food stamp program so that healthier standards could be adopted have been fought tooth and nail by powerful lobbyists representing the same mega-corporation retailers selling the food.
“So even though advertisements talk about SNAP like it’s a way to ‘eat healthy’ and all that propaganda, companies that make products like junk food and soda spend big bucks to make sure the food stamp dollars keep on rolling in,” the site reported.
In a report titled, “Are Corporations Profiting from Hungry Americans?” researcher and author Michele Simon noted the influence of these powerful retailer-food sellers. Also, she found the food industry itself lobbied against healthier standards for SNAP recipients, and at least three powerful industry sectors benefit (i.e. profit) from SNAP.
Her report is [PDF].
- Walmart takes in 18 percent of all food stamp spending (nearly $14 billion annually);
- Most employees of retailers who profit most from SNAP actually qualify for the program (a sort of self-fulfilling prophesy)
- The SNAP and other food stamp programs actually discourage self-sufficiency, as anyone with a savings account of more than $2,000 will automatically lose food stamp benefits (only a power-mad government hell-bent on keeping people dependent upon it would impose such an insane rule).