Wednesday, June 23, 2004

New name for food stamps

The U.S. government is looking for a new name for food stamps now that all of the nation's grocery freeloaders have been switched over to "EBT" cards from the old paper coupons.

Changing the name of the program, the feds say, will help "remove the stigma associated with the coupons". In other words, let's do all we can to make sure the people who make you and me buy them groceries don't have to feel bad about it.

If Cap'n Ken ran the food stamps program, here's how it would work:

- If you want government assistance to buy your groceries, you have to get a certificate of need. We'll come over to your house and make sure you actually need the assistance. Have satellite TV? Sorry. A home phone and a cell phone? Nope. Food assistance should be for people who would otherwise go malnourished. If you've got a spare $30 a month for a cell phone, you don't qualify.

- In urban areas, there would be government-run distribution centers where you go to get your free groceries. The government would give you your pick of basic but nutritious foods, maybe some of that stuff the feds pay farmers to grow but not sell. No Cokes, no candy, no potato chips. In suburban and rural areas, you could shop at regular stores, but you'd be limited to the same basic, nutritious foods.

- In order for stores to be reimbursed for the giveaway groceries, clerks would be required to announce loudly "Customer getting free groceries with your tax dollars" whenever a user of the program checks out. And the EBT cards would be bright neon green and the size of a record album. No acting like you're using your own ATM card when you use it. Stigma? You bet. People should be ashamed to force taxpayers to buy their groceries.

- Every month you would be required to go back to the food-assistance agency to get your EBT card reloaded. You would have to sign an affidavit of ongoing need and you would receive the name and address of a taxpayer. Each month you would have to write a personal thank-you letter to the taxpayer for buying your groceries for you.

OK, so that's the Cap'n Ken plan. Kind of off the topic of renaming food stamps, but I had to throw it out there.

But the question remains ... what should we call Food Stamps now?

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