Eating the Rich Might be Our Only Option

Hi Joel,

The Republican party is the party of fiscal responsibility, yet they want to change our food stamp program in such as way that nearly guarantees increased waste?

The party of less government is supporting a plan that will decrease services delivered by $200 billion while increasing bureaucracy?

They’re the party of individual responsibility, yet they want the government to do the grocery shopping for others?

They’re the party of rural America, yet they are arguing for a policy that will take money out of local agriculture?

school lunchShould the people who call this school lunch a complete meal appropriate for children be making decisions about what others eat?

Wow. There must be some really, really big payoff in order for them to violate so many of their own principles, as they will be doing if they support Trump’s proposal to replace SNAP benefits with boxes of processed food.

Oh, yeah–there is. They get to hate poor people some more.

What other incentive is there?

Yes, the purpose of this is to absolutely to strip poor people of the dignity of choice, to infantilize them, to shame them as we shame little children who cannot be trusted to make good choices. It is also, I think, to continue to shift the burden of care to the states to pick up, and blue states will, because they don’t believe people in America should die of hunger, and red states won’t, because they’re Social Darwinists. In places like Lawrence, Kansas, Jubilee Cafe will continue serving breakfast to whoever wants it, offering them not just hot and nutritious food prepared with love but their choice of that food, and that matters.

But I don’t want to defend the dignity of choice, as much as it matters. In fact, I want to criticize it as our response to this inhumane proposal. When we make choice the issue, we lift up our value as consumers. Beggars can’t be choosers, and we make sure that people know that they are beggars by not giving them choices. But that doesn’t mean that giving us choices makes us not-beggars.

Framing our value as consumers is, I think, the long-term wrong move if we seek justice. We’re citizens–a term I use broadly–, not consumers. We care about our fellow citizens because we value human lives.

The “values” of the Republican party are consistent. That is, they consistently only value people for their role in the market. If you aren’t a touted “job creator” (and rewarded for that with a tax cut and the label “investor,” as opposed to Chuck Grassley’s “hookers-and-blow” vision of a poor person) you’d best be a consumer in the Republican world. (Interesting, wealth hoarders are quasi-religious figures to them.) Otherwise, do you even exist to a Republican? What is America to them if it’s not a place of stuff being exchanged? What is an American if not a conduit through which capital flows?

Republicans hate poor people because poor people have failed (in their measurement) to properly produce or consume. And the punishment for that is to starve you.

A week ago, I couldn’t have said that I mean that literally. Now I do.



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