The Food Lines are at the Grocery Line

July 9, 2009 by Keyser Söze | Filed under Bad News, Economic Crisis.

Food.Stamps

In response to yesterday’s post on how high unemployment rates really are, treat longtime Lair reader she said commented (on a different post):

…after your post about unemployment levels yesterday, viagra sale I thought shaaa it can’t be 20%. There are no food lines.

The quotation is misleading taken out of context (SS does not in fact dispute that things are bad), but it serves as a convenient lead-in to the following item, which indicates why there are no food lines these days:

A record 33.8 million people received food stamps in April, up 20 percent from a year earlier, as unemployment surged toward a 26-year high, government figures show. Spending also jumped, as the average benefit rose.

It was the fifth straight month of record participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and up 1.8 percent from the prior month. Total spending was $4.5 billion, up 19 percent from the previous all-time high reached in March, the USDA said.

Texas was the only state where the number of participants declined from the previous month. It still had the most recipients, 2.92 million, followed by California with 2.7 million and New York with 2.34 million. The average monthly benefit for an individual rose 17 percent from March to $133.28.

An average of about 35 million people are expected to be receiving food stamps each month in the year that begins Oct. 1, according to the budget President Barack Obama sent to Congress in May.

Whoa, that’s something like 10% of the total US population, no? That’s a lot of people getting fed at public expense, and that’s also why there are no food lines. And the fact that this goes on in a much less “overt” way than was the case with food lines in the ’30s is another reason why things don’t “look” as bad as they are.

That was the number from April. It’s just going to keep getting bigger for some time, as the big news heartening the “green shoots” crowd is that the rate of increase in unemployment is declining. But that’s hardly the same thing a decrease in unemployment, is it? We ain’t out of this yet by a long shot.


8 Responses to “The Food Lines are at the Grocery Line”

  1. More than 11%. When it hits 36 million it’ll be about 12%. And this doesn’t include all those illegal aliens, presumably, who aren’t eligible for such things or unemployment insurance, and whose chief fields of employment–construction and eating-out–have seen among the biggest drops in jobs.

    I walked through the middle of this less-fair-than-it-used-to-be metropolis today, and there were more panhandlders and people just lying around on the sidewalk and in doorways than I’ve ever seen. Not so bad when it’s around 80, but this is going to be a very unpleasant winter.

  2. Keyser says:

    You know, Keyser can remember (dimly) the last big recession back in the mid ’70s. As he recollects, there were big calls for the gov. to do something to create jobs for the unemployed. Doesn’t seem like anyone much cares now. Is that because they’re on benefits, so there’s not such a problem? It’s odd that news like this comes out, and it hardly merits more than a small notice in Bloomberg. Is the media downplaying all this for the benefit of their golden boy in the WH? It’s all very puzzling.

  3. Well, on the local (or more local than Federal) level, efforts are underway to make matters worse:
    http://newsblogs.chicagotribune.com/clout_st/2009/07/lawmakers-say-quinn-changes-mind-will-sign-construction-bill.html
    Taking money from one person to pay for construction of things that may or may not be of any use. But the Federal attempts to have us all out digging ditches don’t come into effect till next year, do they?

  4. Keyser says:

    Er, $29 billion, eh? But isn’t there a problem with that. While Timmy of the Treasury can borrow that kind of geld in second (or have the Fed crank him out a bunch of notes if worse comes to worst), doesn’t the state of IL have to balance its books? Where exactly are they going to find money like that under these conditions?

  5. snarkolepsy says:

    I have to admit, the food stamp days where on when I was little. And I ran away from that as fast as I could. I remember my mom not taking them because she was somewhat proud. But I also recall they didn’t cover very much of the food cost. Which also made the proud thing a whole lot easier. Just sayin.

    However I do remember my family bitching about people buying lobster with food stamps and that always seemed to outrage them – as should be. So my brain is conflicted on how much food stamps actually used to cover.

    Now though, I see that the government is trying to get a lot of private companies to take them. Costco, and even today I read they were trying to get farmers markets to take them. The last time I was at a farmers market I spent 12 bucks on tomatoes. They never seemed to be a thrifty place to shop. It also made me want to push little old ladies down. Which is why I haven’t been to one in a while.

  6. Keyser says:

    They never seemed to be a thrifty place to shop.

    Once more, Keyser has to ask, do you think Henry Waxman and Ed Markey (and their ilk) have any conception of what the “real world” is like? No doubt they imagine that farmer’s markets are a great way to get “real” food, but have no idea about the prices.

    It also made me want to push little old ladies down. Which is why I haven’t been to one in a while.

    Ha ha. Keyser hates such markets because of the crowds. It’s just as well to try to avoid knocking the old ladies over. Some would disapprove, however much Keyser understands the sentiment himself.

  7. I suspect that the directive to allow food stamps at such markets may have come from the very top.

    If memory serves, last year the then candidate in chief was discussing the outrageous prices that were sweeping the nation and asked the audience if they’d seen what they charge for arugula at Whole Foods.

    Keeping up the fine tradition of our almost-but-no-cigar-first-lady Teresa Ketchup Kerry, who while on the campaign trail chose to lecture farmers in the west on the benefits of going organic.

  8. Keyser says:

    Yeah, he definitely did refer to the price of arugula. Keyser had never heard of the stuff, and it took a while for him to realize that it’s not spelled (or pronounced) “argula.”

    As for the source of Jean François’s money, one wonders if she’s ever tasted the stuff named after her family.

    Keyser never fails to be amazed at the social divide between the bright and beautiful who run the country on the one hand and the serfs for whose benefit they supposedly run the country on the other.

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