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Jennifer Liles @odanu
, 25 tweets, 5 min read Read on Twitter
Re: Trump's SNAP plan: In the interest of full disclosure, you all should probably know that there existed (or exists, who knows) a very well written essay I wrote roughly around 2000 that made a very internally logical argument for allowing the children of the poor to starve...
if their parents refused to work, and to turn over all food assistance to private charity. At the time, I worshipped at the altar of Rand and Von Mises and I hadn't yet begun to evaluate the empirical evidence that showed their point of view was not only evil and cruel (which I
should have known on the face of it, but didn't due to cognitive dissonance) but also counter productive.

I have spent much of the intervening 17 years making up for my (not so) youthful assholishness (I was roughly 30 at the time).
The point of this preamble is that I was wrong, and Trump is *just* as wrong in his idea of a box of shelf stable goods (minus fresh goods and vegetables) sent from some central (presumably private, presumably for profit or skimming) distribution point. FDR tried the box concept
when Food Stamps first were implemented, and it was a resounding failure. Despite advances in technology of distribution systems, many of the same reasons still exist today. I'm going to make an attempt at beginning to enumerate them for you.
First, the "no fresh fruits and vegetables" things drastically hurts three populations 1) The population of people who receive SNAP benefits and will have even less access to healthy veggies. 2) The small farmers and farmers markets that currently accept SNAP benefits and would
lose income due to this decision and 3) the employers who rely on low wage earners in their businesses, who will face increased absenteeism as their employees' diets get *even worse* (foods for poor people tend to be calorie dense and nutrient lean. Fresh fruits and veggies help
to alleviate this problem to some extent).

Second, the set up of a distribution system outside the existing grocery system to distribute these food boxes sets up problems of its own. First, it takes a substantial source of income from local and small chain grocers, and in
addition, the creation of another bureaucracy (or possibly contractor system) sets up the potential for fraud and abuse in a system that currently has only between 1-2% fraud. (Most people don't realize that most of the fraud is at the supply end and not at the recipient end.)
Given the nature of this particular administration, it is likely that the supply system will be riddled with appointees and/or contractors who are in it to enrich themselves, and not to provide a service to the country and the most vulnerable among us.
Finally, each family's nutritional and food related requirements is going to be far more individual than a standardized box (or even a small selection thereof) can provide. First and foremost are people with special nutritional needs. Diabetics, people with celiac disease,
obligate vegetarians who can't digest meats, or are vegetarian for religious or ethical reasons, those with food allergies, etc., will have their health endangered. In addition, the living situations of the poor vary widely. Some poor families are young adults with children, some
are intergenerational, some are elderly. Some live in inherited homes with all the kitchen supplies they need, while others live in hotel rooms, travel trailers and campsites with very little in the way of supplies. Many of the poor in this country lack decent education in home
economics (my mother is probably cheering from the afterlife at this shoutout to her profession) and don't have the *ability* to cook "poor folk food" even if they have the supplies and materials.

Finally, one thing the proposed standardized boxes take away that is utterly
irreplaceable is dignity. We have this assumption (a poor assumption, not backed by the empirical evidence) that people become poor and stay that way predominantly out of poor choices. The truth is that poverty can and does happen to people who make excellent choices. There are
institutional forces that can drag people into poverty even from the highest levels of society, including disability, racism and sexism (in their myriad impacts on our society), and violence (none of these are mutually exclusive). So because we believe poor people (especially
those whose mistakes are more obvious) "deserve" poverty. And in our paternalism, and lack of understanding of the forces of poverty, we set out to "protect" the poor "from the consequences of their mistakes". And sure, poor people make mistakes, and don't always make the perfect
choice with their food dollars -- and that's utterly beside the point, because the difference between poor people mistakes and rich people mistakes is that rich folk have more leeway to make worse mistakes without consequence, or with far less impactful consequences --
So when you take *even more* choice from the poor about how they are to feed themselves, not only do you endanger their physical well-being (at a *greater* financial cost than society is currently paying) but you also endanger their mental well-being. As a therapist who works
with a lot of people on public assistance, I can *see* the effects of assumptions that the poor are "less than" the rest of us. And I am only one person, and can do only so much to stem this tide. But if you agree with me on this, share this thread far and wide, and then each of
you write, or call, or fax, or email your representatives to ensure this garbage piece of this garbage budget never becomes law. In case you've forgotten, you can text "Resist" to 50409 and follow the instructions to reach all of your reps at once.
As some of y'all know, I am one of those currently sliding from middle class into poverty due to my husband's disability and my decision to put helping those in need over financial gain. You can find more of my writing at patreon.com/jliles Feel free to become a patron if
you're so moved, or send a one time tip to Paypal.me/JenniLiles (unless you're a therapy participant with me, or family member. I can't and won't accept pay outside of your fees for service for my writing). Keep #resisting and never give up.
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