Monday, November 18, 2013

Letter Writer's Attack on the GOP's "Obscene" SNAP Cuts is Ill-Informed

A Hunterdon County Democrat letter condemned the House GOP's "slashing of the Food Stamp budget." "These cuts are especially obscene," writes Ron Zwizanski, "given the amount of farm subsidies that Washington pours into the agri-monopolies every year — $60 billion over the past ten years." 

Of course, the agricultural companies are not monopolies. A monopoly is a company that operates under the protection of laws forbidding competition; e.g., local electric utilities. That is not the case in the food industry.

As to the letter, I left these comments:

As I wrote in my Objective Standard article linked to below, "Currently, according to USA Today, the federal government spends about $75 billion per year on food stamps, which are doled out to about 48 million recipients. This is up dramatically from the $15 billion and 17 million recipients in 2001. The bill passed by the House would cut $39 billion and three million recipients from SNAP over the next ten years, or an annual reduction of roughly 5 percent in expenditures and 6 percent in recipients."

Cutting an average $3.9 billion from an annual $75 billion budget is hardly a "slashing of the Food Stamp budget." Ron, you should stop getting your "facts" from demagogic sound bites.

What is obscene is the food stamp program itself. It starts with theft: The government pays for the program by seizing money from people who earned it. Unless you're willing to go on moral record as supporting legalized armed robbery, you have no business calling the Republican cuts "obscene." No cuts to that program are obscene. That immoral program should be phased out and abolished. The only kind of organized food help that is moral comes from voluntarily funded food banks and the like.

Of course, the farm subsidies are just as immoral as food stamps, which brings me to this commentator's statement: "Of course, part of the trouble there is that the "subsidies" come in the form of tax credits, and not actual cash outlays."

I'm not sure why this correspondent put "subsidies" in scare quotes, but my reply distinguishing tax credits from subsidies seemed warranted:

I must correct one thing. A tax credit is NOT a subsidy. A tax credit leaves money in the hands of those who earned it, at no expense to anyone else. A subsidy is a direct payment from the government (other taxpayers). The conceptual difference is unequivocal. To equate tax credits to subsidies is to accept the premise that the government has an inherent claim on the nation's wealth, and that what is not taxed we keep only to the extent that government allows. Nothing can be more false. Logically, rightfully, and morally, all wealth belongs first and foremost to those individuals and companies that earned it. Granted, our corrupt corporate and individual income tax systems allow politicians to favor some and penalize others through various tax structures. This is certainly unfair, which is why I favor a flat tax with no deductions. But that is another issue entirely. A tax credit is not a subsidy.

Related Reading:

Senator Menendez Dishonestly Equates Private Food Bank with SNAP
Republicans Make Trivial Cuts to Food Stamp Program, Refuse to Identify Its Immorality

Do Tax Credits Equate to a Government Subsidies?

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