Wisconsin, The First Amendment, and Humiliating the Poor

Related Post Roulette

98 Responses

  1. Avatar Dand
    Ignored
    says:

    The graphic at LGM is a standard WIC checklist it’s a Federal program and has been around for years and has nothing to do with food stamps. I’m not sure why people are making an issue out of it now. Without defending the details foods that are eligible for WIC must be both a good value and fill nutritional needs.

    Here’s a detailed explanation of why food are eligible. People who follow a diet can get Kosher foods.

    http://www.nal.usda.gov/wicworks/Sharing_Center/CO/training/l1foodpkg.pdfReport

    • Avatar dragonfrog in reply to Dand
      Ignored
      says:

      Yeah, Jews just have to register with the government. What’s the big deal?

      Seriously, was there a big epidemic before of poor Gentiles buying expensive Kosher cheese when they could have gotten the same amount of non-Kosher cheese for less money? Or is the Kosher cheese cheapest and yet produced in limited quantities, so after all the unemployed folks came in early and bought the most affordable cheese in the store, Jewish folks stopping in for groceries after work found the Kosher section empty?Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to dragonfrog
        Ignored
        says:

        WIC’s general philosophy is cheapest (relatively) healthy option, and nothing above that. If you walk through a grocery store, you’ll undoubtedly see all the “WIC Approved” stickers (usually in a single bright color to make them visible), and it’s pretty easy to figure out what’s going on. The only products on which they seem to diverge from this philosophy are name-brand cereals, and I believe they’ve worked out deals with some of the manufacturers of those (but I could be wrong).Report

        • Avatar Alan Scott in reply to Chris
          Ignored
          says:

          Yep.

          Although I’m a bit mistified that whatever state this is from doesn’t allow sharp cheddar cheese. That kinda steps over the line from price-conscious to dickish.Report

        • Avatar dragonfrog in reply to Chris
          Ignored
          says:

          Yeah, I get that – I just don’t understand why you have to legislate it.

          It’s aid for the poor. If you’re poor, you’re already going to be trying to stretch your budget, and (I think) should be allowed to buy what’s actually right now in this particular store cheap, and not be restricted to what’s typically as of the date the legislation was drafted cheap.

          If there’s a clearance sale on brie or emmental so it’s cheaper than cheddar, why legislate against aid recipients taking advantage of it? If it’s much more expensive, did you really have to worry about their buying it in the first place?Report

          • Avatar Dand in reply to dragonfrog
            Ignored
            says:

            I’m not sure I oppose the idea but if you’re going to do that why not just fold WIC into food stamps?Report

            • Avatar matt w in reply to Dand
              Ignored
              says:

              Please see below. The bill in question applies WIC guidelines to food stamps.Report

              • Avatar Chris in reply to matt w
                Ignored
                says:

                It applies WIC and other restrictions to a portion of food stamps. It’s not making food stamps into WIC, the restrictions are not just WIC (you can also buy fruit, vegetables, potatoes, meat, and more, under the restricted portion), and the restrictions apply to 67% of food stamp purchases.

                It’s obviously unenforceable, unless they make it so that 67% of any food stamp purchase must be for those things, which would be a huge burden.

                And as Michael Cain suggests below, it looks like the federal government would reject it anyway.Report

          • Avatar Chris in reply to dragonfrog
            Ignored
            says:

            Eh, the rationale for WIC restrictions are laid out elsewhere in this thread. You can disagree with them, but changing it would probably require changing the way WIC is distributed as well, or make it a much bigger hassle for stores and government agencies.Report

    • Avatar matt w in reply to Dand
      Ignored
      says:

      People are making a big deal out of it because Wisconsin Republicans have proposed a bill applying those WIC restrictions (which apply to a small amount of supplemental money that is designed to provide healthy food for children) to two-thirds of a family’s SNAP budget (the food stamp program, which could provide the major portion of the entire family’s meal money).Report

      • Avatar Dand in reply to matt w
        Ignored
        says:

        The post Saul linked to didn’t make that clear, it just posted a WIC checklist. said it was for food stamps then mocked it. Saul then claimed that Kosher food is prohibited even though it really isn’t. It turns out that there is an incredibly bad stupid to limit a portion a food stamps, but the post didn’t make that clear.

        And let me add that if that same checklist was posted on Hit and Run the libertarians there would mock it as an example of government stupidity.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to matt w
        Ignored
        says:

        This is still not true. The 67% is not limited to WIC items. WIC items are just listed as one of several sets of items for which the 67% can be used. So, the bill is misrepresented by the WIC image, and is still misrepresented when people then say, “But the bill does restrict some of the money to WIC.” Technically, you could spend 100% of your SNAP benefits, under the bill, without spending a penny of it on anything in WIC. You’d have a shitty diet, but you could do it.Report

  2. Avatar Dand
    Ignored
    says:

    And in an unrelated comment where was the outrage from the left when big city mayors proposed banning people from using food stamps to buy soda.Report

    • Avatar greginak in reply to Dand
      Ignored
      says:

      All over the place Dand. Most of the liberals types on this site weren’t in favour of the soda bucket ban.Report

      • Avatar Dand in reply to greginak
        Ignored
        says:

        I’m not talking about the soda ban I’m talking about the request by the mayors to remove soda from food stamps; I see far more outrage from the liberals around me and online liberals about the Kansas and Wisconsin proposals than i did about the mayors proposal.Report

        • Avatar Chris in reply to Dand
          Ignored
          says:

          Well, the Kansas and Wisconsin proposals (which, again, have nothing to do with the list that Saul is commenting on) are much more sweeping than just soda, so it’s not surprising that the outrage would be greater. That said, the banning of soda is pretty stupid too.Report

          • Avatar Road Scholar in reply to Chris
            Ignored
            says:

            Chris: That said, the banning of soda is pretty stupid too.

            I don’t know. Makes more sense to me than banning freaking cheese. Seriously folks, which has actual nutritional value?Report

            • Avatar Dand in reply to Road Scholar
              Ignored
              says:

              No one as banning cheese, a blogger at LGM got a WIC list confused with food stamps.Report

              • Avatar Chris in reply to Dand
                Ignored
                says:

                I see what happened there now (and why Saul, not having read his links, is confused): the bill mentions WIC as one part of the requirements for 67% of SNAP funds. So bspencer, who’s LGM’s version of a buzzfeed author, went and grabbed an image of one page of a Wisconsin WIC brochure and posted it as though those were the bill’s restrictions. This led to much outrage by people who, like Saul, didn’t bother to read or really even think about it, and who’ve never been poor enough to have any sense of what WIC is. Much outrage and back-patting was shared by all.Report

              • Avatar Dand in reply to Chris
                Ignored
                says:

                LGM seems to be slipping their policy analysis used to be better than this.Report

              • Avatar Chris in reply to Dand
                Ignored
                says:

                The three originals are still OK (and let’s face it, Rob is basically as centrist as the centrists here). Loomis is sloppy and, for someone whose so focused on labor issues, remarkably condescending when he writes about working class tastes, Campos is just obsessed with law school and obesity issues, SEK isn’t all that polical, and bspencer shouldn’t be.Report

              • Avatar Dand in reply to Chris
                Ignored
                says:

                Ah OK.

                It the Wisconsin bill seems terrible but bspencer’s post didn’t explain why and left the impression that he(?) doesn’t know what he’s talking about.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Dand
                Ignored
                says:

                She, as it happens.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Chris
                Ignored
                says:

                I forgot about SEK. He’s terrific in his own way. Though he often tells that story about finding two students having intercourse in his office , and never realizes that it’s because they’d heard it called SEK’s office.Report

              • Avatar Chris in reply to Mike Schilling
                Ignored
                says:

                SEK is definitely the novelist of his own life.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Dand
                Ignored
                says:

                It depends on the writer. Farley is wonderful (I’d love to poach him), Lemieux and Campos are smart, bspencer is as Chris described and Loomis is a loon.Report

              • Avatar Chris in reply to Mike Schilling
                Ignored
                says:

                Battleship blogging on OT!

                Also, one benefit to having Farley here is that the Airforce would hate us.Report

  3. Avatar Chris
    Ignored
    says:

    Dand is right, that graphic is WIC, not SNAP, and while the bill at the link would put a lot more restrictions on SNAP purchases, it won’t quite be at the WIC level. And those WIC restrictions have been around for at least 18 years, ’cause that’s when my son’s my first qualified (while she was pregnant with my son). We had WIC until he was 2, if I remember correctly, and while it was something of a pain to separate your WIC and non-WIC items, it was a great program, saving us a lot of money on formula and baby food.

    As usual, you can tell who’s been poor and who hasn’t, and who has had poor friends with kids and who hasn’t.Report

    • Avatar Chris in reply to Chris
      Ignored
      says:

      Oh, and in case it’s not obvious, the kosher part is a price issue, and can easily be gotten around by simply indicating on your WIC application that you keep kosher.

      Also, the Wisconsin bill does not say anything about Kosher. Seriously, read your own links before commenting on them.Report

  4. Avatar Stillwater
    Ignored
    says:

    After reading thru the cheese list I’m wondering if they tried to tailor the restrictions to promote the purchase of Wisconsin cheeses. (Curds? Where can you get those other than Sconsin? Even gas stations sell curds.) Maybe the nearest Kosher cheese is made in the hated UP? Minnesota? Chicago?Report

    • Avatar Chris in reply to Stillwater
      Ignored
      says:

      That list has nothing to do with the Wisconsin law whatsoever.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Chris
        Ignored
        says:

        Ahh So much for my “they hate Chicago!” theory. I really wanted to run with it, too.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Chris
        Ignored
        says:

        I say whatsoever but that’s not quite true. The Wisconsin bill would limit 67% of SNAP spending to a list of items that includes WIC-authorized items, but is not limited to WIC-authorized items. Basically meat, cheese, dairy, potatoes, produce, cereal, bread, and such. You can see the full WIC-approved list for Wisconsin here:

        https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/publications/p4/p44578.pdf

        Once again, Kosher and other specialties, like non-dairy milks and Kosher products, are allowed, you just have to indicate on the application that you prefer them. And again, that’s not the whole of the possible items in the Wisconsin law, so we’re not really talking about the Wisconsin law at all.Report

        • Avatar Dand in reply to Chris
          Ignored
          says:

          Limiting food stamps even in part to WIC foods qualifying is insane, for starters WIC is only covers pregnant women and babies. I’d also like to know how they plan on tracking how much each recipient buys of each type of food.Report

          • Avatar Chris in reply to Dand
            Ignored
            says:

            Oh, I agree. I believe they chose WIC out of laziness, so that the restrictions would capture bread, cereal, dairy and some other stuff without them having to do the work to sort it out and risk stepping on any toes (presumably toes were stepped on or avoided in producing the state’s specific WIC list of allowed foods). I imagine this was, in turn, a result of the bill being drafted rather quickly because it’s all the rage in conservative circles, and the bill sponsors knew they could get some conservative cred for putting it out there.Report

        • Avatar matt w in reply to Chris
          Ignored
          says:

          I say whatsoever but that’s not quite true.

          It’s really a lot more false than “not quite true.” The bill would require that 67% of the SNAP budget be spent on WIC-approved foods, produce, meat, and potatoes–that’s literally all. So the list of WIC-approved foods is very relevant to the bill.Report

    • Avatar Alan Scott in reply to Stillwater
      Ignored
      says:

      The reason for the restrictions is basically just price control.

      Unlike a food stamp program, where the recipient gets X dollars a month to spend on food however they need it, with the WIC program, the recipient gets a set of checks that are good for X blocks of cheese, X dozen eggs, X gallons of milk, etc–without regard to the cost of those items.

      So the WIC program restricts recipients to the non-premium versions of those products (white eggs over brown, no specialty cheeses, no organic milk, etc.) In cases where a special dietary restriction means a recipient would need a different or more costly version, that can be specified on the wic check (such as the kosher cheese, or a specification allowing lactose-free milk, or soy milk & tofu instead of dairy products, etc.)

      It’s interesting though, that as Saul points out when talking about 1-pound blocks of cheese, some sizes of item used by the WIC Program aren’t the most commonly sold sizes in the grocery store. At the store I worked at, there was a special section of 16-oz loaves of wheat bread, that were pretty much only purchased by WIC recipients. This sneaky arrangement lets the store put high price tags on such items, confident that their cash-paying customers will just opt for different sizes while the store can make some pretty solid profits off the sizes WIC users are locked into buying with the government’s money.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Alan Scott
        Ignored
        says:

        Right.Report

      • Avatar Dand in reply to Alan Scott
        Ignored
        says:

        The qualifying foods do vary by location when I worked at a grocery store in Massachusetts brown eggs were allowed(most eggs sold in New England are brown) and two eight once blocks of cheese were permitted.Report

        • Avatar Chris in reply to Dand
          Ignored
          says:

          We moved from Kentucky to Texas while we were on WIC, and the content was identical between the two places. This was when we were at the cereal and baby food point in the program.Report

          • Avatar Dand in reply to Chris
            Ignored
            says:

            I just looked it up

            http://www.fns.usda.gov/sites/default/files/wic/20140508-WICFoodPkg-QuestionsAnswers.pdf

            Although Federal regulations specify the minimum nutritional requirements for the WIC foods, State agencies have a considerable amount of latitude in determining which foods to include on State authorized foods lists. State agencies make such decisions based on participant acceptance, product distribution within a State, cost, and administrative feasibility. Because State agencies are required to identify WIC-eligible foods, which vary from State to State, there is no consolidated list available. Due to the large number of locally and regionally available foods, including store brands and generics, and the frequent changes in formulation of foods by manufacturers, it is administratively difficult to maintain a national list of all possible WIC-eligible foods.

            Those products are national brands and I wouldn’t thinks they’d differ from state to state.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Alan Scott
        Ignored
        says:

        @alan-scott

        A little sleuthing showed that, at least with cereal boxes, it was a total amount that mattered. It even had pictures! “You are entitled to 36 ounces of cereal. This can be two 18 oz boxes, three 12 oz boxes, etc.” I don’t know if it is the same for cheese.Report

      • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to Alan Scott
        Ignored
        says:

        So the WIC program restricts recipients to the non-premium versions of those products…

        I’ve been curious in the past about how specific products get selected, and whether vendors are providing reimbursements to the government. For example, at my local super market, there’s the house brand of 2% milk. There’s also a local dairy cooperative’s brand of 2% milk that’s always priced 50 cents lower per gallon than the house brand. Both have WIC stickers. FWIW, I buy the lower-priced milk for my own use — they’re both grade A, they have similar if not identical expiration dates, and I can’t taste any difference.Report

        • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Michael Cain
          Ignored
          says:

          they’re both grade A

          That’s a given. Grade B milk is subject to looser sanitation requirements and cannot legally be sold at retail, but can only be used for manufacturing other dairy products.Report

      • Avatar Road Scholar in reply to Alan Scott
        Ignored
        says:

        Alan Scott: It’s interesting though, that as Saul points out when talking about 1-pound blocks of cheese, some sizes of item used by the WIC Program aren’t the most commonly sold sizes in the grocery store.

        We were on WIC when my wife was pregnant with our youngest and maybe for a year after she was born. It made for a sorta weird diet. For instance, peanut butter by the bucket. At one point I remember having four or five jars in the cabinet.

        But the cereal was a real math challenge. It would specify a number of ounces so it turned into this exercise in linear programming, trying to come up with a combination of boxes that added up as close to that as possible given the constraints of what was WIC approved and that you could stand to eat. I seem to remember that Wheaties was the only thing that could get you right on the nose.Report

        • Avatar Chris in reply to Road Scholar
          Ignored
          says:

          I remember we’d often have a bunch of extra stuff too, and because you received physical “checks,” you had to buy all of that week’s stuff in one trip or not get it at all from that check.Report

          • Avatar dragonfrog in reply to Chris
            Ignored
            says:

            Seriously, you could only buy from one grocery store? So you can’t get your veggies from the place with the cheap veggies, your cheese and eggs from the place where those are cheap, and a big bag of dried beans or rice from the ethnic store that otherwise mostly just has spices.

            Sheesh.

            In some circumstances I can see expense-specific mechanisms being a good idea, like maybe billing rent straight to the government agency, so rent payments automatically match the cost of renting in various towns, and you’re not caught between people outraged at the generous rate paid to welfare recipients in Lesser Ghost Town, and the entire month’s check paying only half the rent on a broom closet for a family in Vancouver BC. But that’s getting ridiculous.Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Stillwater
      Ignored
      says:

      “(Curds? Where can you get those other than Sconsin? Even gas stations sell curds.)”

      Anywhere poutine is served?Report

    • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Stillwater
      Ignored
      says:

      Stillwater:
      (Curds? Where can you get those other than Sconsin? Even gas stations sell curds.) ?

      No whey?Report

  5. Avatar Dand
    Ignored
    says:

    For what it worth here is the current WIC approved food list for Massachusetts the cheese restriction must have changed:

    http://www.mass.gov/eohhs/consumer/basic-needs/food/wic/participants/wic-food-list.htmlReport

  6. Avatar Jaybird
    Ignored
    says:

    The problem is that if we just up and give the poor folks money, they might spend it on something they want. Since we can’t have that, we slice and dice the money we give into vouchers that are only good for food (or rent, or what have you).

    After that, of *COURSE* we’re going to say what you can and can’t buy with the food stamps and of *COURSE* the rules are going to be dumb and probably captured by local interests.

    This battle was lost when we said “we’re giving you food vouchers” instead of “we’re giving you money”.Report

    • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to Jaybird
      Ignored
      says:

      I can understand the SNAP restrictions, to some extent. At least originally, food stamps (now SNAP) were part of a group of programs intended to provide financial support to farmers. That’s why the program is overseen by the Department of Agriculture, and why authorization is in the same bill with farm subsidies.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Michael Cain
        Ignored
        says:

        The fact that SNAP was an opportunity to help both farmers and people who were suffering from malnutrition made it something that sounded really awesome when it began. It was win-win.

        Hell, I understand (even if I don’t agree with) stuff like trying to make sure that poor people don’t buy pop or candy. We’re trying to help them, for god’s sake! THERE’S AN OBESITY CRISIS!

        It just grew from a great win-win into a weird monstrosity.Report

        • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to Jaybird
          Ignored
          says:

          I don’t disagree. Three years as a legislative budget analyst solidified my fundamental position of “I don’t care about big or small government nearly as much as I care about making it simple.” I don’t think I’ve ever met a professional budget analyst who, with a couple shots of their intoxicant of choice in them, didn’t feel the same way.Report

    • Avatar trizzlor in reply to Jaybird
      Ignored
      says:

      Is the “of *COURSE*” just axiomatically true? Why wasn’t the battle lost when we said “we’re giving you money” instead of “we’re giving you unlimited money” or “we’re giving you nothing”?Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to trizzlor
        Ignored
        says:

        Because once you agree that there should be strings attached, you’re haggling.

        If you think that it’s reasonable that cigarettes shouldn’t be purchasable with food stamps, it’s not difficult to start talking about the other features of the camel that might fit in the tent without too much inconvenience.Report

        • Avatar trizzlor in reply to Jaybird
          Ignored
          says:

          Isn’t the amount of money a string? If you think someone in poverty shouldn’t be getting a blank check, it’s easy to start putting further constraints on that check (like where it can be spent and on what).Report

          • Avatar Jaybird in reply to trizzlor
            Ignored
            says:

            If I say “we should give money to the poor, no strings attached”, that’s a sentence that makes a lot more sense than “we should give food stamps to the poor, no strings attached”.

            The latter is something that someone *MIGHT* say… but it’s a “get your gummint hands off my Medicare” level of dissonance. The former is something that isn’t particularly incoherent.Report

            • Avatar trizzlor in reply to Jaybird
              Ignored
              says:

              And I say “we should give the poor as much money as they need” i.e. I’ve removed an additional string. Your proposal limits the flexibility of the poor by restricting how much money they can get. Perhaps you’re doing this because there are all sorts of practical reasons why the poor shouldn’t get unlimited support, but in making that compromise aren’t you just haggling?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to trizzlor
                Ignored
                says:

                I admit, it never occurred to me that we had an option of the aid not having limits.Report

              • Avatar trizzlor in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                I think I just felt the spontaneous shudder of thousands of Marxist academics.

                Seriously though, I see no clear reason why the slippery slope has to end specifically at your preferred policy proposal. You laid out an argument that essentially states “if we constrain welfare, those constraints multiply until we get something scary”. Fine. You can argue that guaranteed income is as contraint-free as we could realistically get. But you can’t claim that you’re not still haggling.Report

  7. Avatar Michael Cain
    Ignored
    says:

    From the SNAP to Health website:

    For several years now, cities and states across the country have expressed interest in limiting the purchase of certain foods and beverages with SNAP benefits. However, because the criteria for SNAP purchases are federally-regulated policies, any states that wish to place their own restrictions must apply to the USDA for a waiver. To date, the USDA has rejected all applications for waivers. In 2010, the debate over restrictions of SNAP purchases was revived when New York City applied for a waiver to permit restrictions of sodas with SNAP benefits. The waiver was also rejected, but it raises the question of how to weigh the issue of the regulation of SNAP purchases and the rights of SNAP clients against the emerging obesity epidemic in the United States.

    I had suspected as much — SNAP is a federal program which states are required to administer, but the states get little or no say in how the program is run. The states’ operations are very heavily audited by the USDA, with penalties imposed if the error rates exceed certain limits.

    Worth noting that from the description, the Wisconsin proposal would be expensive to implement. The Wisconsin waiver would, at least IMO, have to itemize things that are allowed and not allowed, and specify the mechanism by which the state would track purchases in order to enforce the two-thirds restriction.Report

    • Avatar Zane in reply to Michael Cain
      Ignored
      says:

      That’s interesting, Michael Cain, thanks for the info!

      I went to check on the status of the Wisconsin proposal. I wanted to see if it was making it through the legislature given that it would require a waiver and that there is no history of a waiver being granted. The second link I found via Google was for an advocacy group that mixed up SNAP and WIC in its post, just as the link in the OP appears to have done. (http://rhrealitycheck.org/article/2015/05/04/wisconsin-gop-restrict-food-stamp-recipients-choices/)

      Confusion over the policies at hand really undermines the ability to talk about them, particularly when the confusion is found even in the reporting on the policies.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Zane
        Ignored
        says:

        Oh dear god! The brochure they link to says “WIC” right on it (it’s the brochure I linked to above). That is really, really embarrassing (and likely where bspencer at LGM got her info).Report

  8. Avatar Zane
    Ignored
    says:

    I get the policy rationale for WIC functioning the way it does, but one effect of the way WIC works is that everyone in line at the grocery store will know you’re using it. (This was also true for food stamps/SNAP prior to the adoption of debit cards for that program.)

    When I was a junior high schooler, I remember going to the grocery store with my grandfather. We were in a slow line that became a crawl as the woman in front of us tried to figure out if she had the right amount of cash plus food stamp vouchers to purchase her groceries. I saw the expression on my grandfather’s face change from frustration to pity. While I’m glad that Granddad didn’t become angry (he was a Republican but also a kind man), I felt embarrassed for the woman and embarrassed that she had to be aware of others’ looks. I was ashamed that I knew she was poor and that she wasn’t allowed that privacy while buying food. Her poverty was made apparent to everyone by those booklets of vouchers.

    Some policy makers seem to have embraced the shaming aspect of using public benefits. I still loathe attempts to demean those who need help.

    (Full disclosure: My family had brushes with poverty associated with the price of oil. I know that during the various “oil busts” my family would have been eligible for various benefit programs but my parents never applied. They were able to avoid doing so because they had family resources like my grandparents who could help us through terrible times. That my family avoided public welfare was not due to virtue, but having the luck to be born into families who were able to help out. At the same time, the lack of available health coverage for long periods probably played a role in my mother’s early death from cancer.)Report

    • Avatar Chris in reply to Zane
      Ignored
      says:

      Around the same time that we had WIC, we also had food stamps, when they were basically checks. I was never embarrassed about using WIC (everyone I knew who’d had kids before 30 used WIC), but I was somewhat self-conscious about the food stamps. I was also self-conscious about what we purchased with the food stamps, which probably included some chips and other less-than-healthy snacks (though I don’t recall ever purchasing soda with it). My son’s mom, who’d grown up really poor, had no such qualms, and would buy steak when she did the shopping (which was rare).Report

      • Avatar Dand in reply to Chris
        Ignored
        says:

        WIc Eligibility extends up to 185% of the poverty line so that’s 37,000 for a family of 3, 45,000 for a family of 4, 52,000 for a family of 5 or 60,000 for a family of 6.Report

      • Avatar Zane in reply to Chris
        Ignored
        says:

        There certainly does seem to be less stigma attached to WIC than to other programs. I suspect that’s due in part to the much higher income limits for eligibility. So many more people are eligible that it’s not seen as “bad”, just as you describe. (And it’s for babies!)Report

      • Avatar Zane in reply to Chris
        Ignored
        says:

        It’d be interesting to know how the implementation of payment for food stamps/SNAP has varied from state to state and over time.

        It’s odd that I don’t remember many experiences of seeing people use food stamps at grocery stores during a pre-debit card era. It may be that the various oil patch states my family lived in had different, less visible systems than Arkansas, where my grandparents lived. Or it could be that all those oilfield towns had “good” and “bad” grocery stores and my parents avoided the latter.

        Or I was a self-absorbed kid who just didn’t pay much attention to strangers. Heh.Report

        • Avatar Chris in reply to Zane
          Ignored
          says:

          I remember when I was a kid, in Tennessee, seeing people use little stamps. They kind of looked like carnival tickets. In both Kentucky and Texas in the late 90s and early 00s they had little booklets of currency, with printed values of I think $50, $20, $5, and $1, though it’s been a while so I could be mis-remembering. Sometime in the mid-aughts Texas switched to the debit cards, which are just as obvious to me as the bucks. Early on in the card days, it still took a while because you had to separate out the food and non-food items and ring them up/pay for them separately. Now I believe most stores let you ring them all up at the same time, and pay for the different portions with the different methods without the cashier having to do anything except say, “OK, you have a $13 balance.”Report

          • Avatar Zane in reply to Chris
            Ignored
            says:

            In the example I described above, the woman had stapled-together booklets of food stamp currency you describe for KY and TX. It clearly wasn’t money and she had to tear it out of the booklet at a perforation. It was sort of like the payment book on my first car, but looked like it was made of newsprint instead of the hardy paper selected by my lender. (Of course, the payment book had to last for years, while the food stamp currency was to be used much more quickly.)

            Huh. This raises a question. I assume that if someone had a coupon book of food stamps, but had a good month for some reason and didn’t have to use them all, they could use them the next month. (I’m guessing there were expiration dates, but that they didn’t expire as quickly as monthly.) If you have a debit card of SNAP money, does that disappear if unspent at the end of the month, replaced by the current month’s benefit?

            Edit: Just did a little checking, looks like the money carries over to the next month on the EBT cards.Report

          • Avatar Zane in reply to Chris
            Ignored
            says:

            Oops, double post.Report

  9. Avatar zic
    Ignored
    says:

    People I know who’ve used WIC lately say it’s a total PITA to use; the restrictions make it difficult to make healthy purchasing choices and only the largest grocery stores have some of the stuff, so you've got to drive many more miles to use your WIC benefits. Using it is sometimes humiliating, when some purchase get rejected by the stores POS system. I've known more than a few people who did without, though they really needed help, because of those things; the stress of it combined with being a parent and working was too much. It was one of those things that added to the economic-thinking overload so many people on the borders of poverty face; where the mental toll of small decisions zaps your ability to think clearly, and a wrong decisions might be costly.

    Additionally, the funding is only as secure as the good faith and credit of the United States. And that of Congress.

    I love the brief editing time. Thank you, OT magic makers.Report

    • Avatar Chris in reply to zic
      Ignored
      says:

      Looking through the Wisconsin and Texas restrictions, they don’t look any different than the ones in place when we were using it. I never felt like they were overly restrictive, though we lived in cities (Lexington, Austin) and shopped at large grocery stores (Kroger’s, HEB), so it would have been less of an issue for us. I imagine if you don’t live near a big store and it therefore requires extra travel, it could be a bit of a pain. For us it was wonderful, ’cause when my son was born we were 21 and 22, in college, broke as hell, and formula was really expensive.

      I remember stuff getting rejected, though that usually just meant putting it aside and leaving it or paying for it with cash.Report

  10. Avatar LWA
    Ignored
    says:

    For all I know the restrictions may or may not be onerous.

    But yet again, what is the straight line that accounts for the whiplash inducing positions:

    The original TARP request asked for nearly one Trillion dollars in welfare assistance; it had one page, and specifically stated that there would be no oversight or review. But;
    We need more regulation over how poor people spend money!
    Michelle Obama is a nanny state bureaucrat for promoting broccoli, and Micheal Bloomberg is a tyrant for wanting to ban large sodas- yet:
    We need to stipulate what color eggs poor people buy!

    The straight line is that wealthy beneficiaries of government money don’t need micromanaging; we can trust that they are wise and efficient with their funds. Wealthy and middle class people make good decisions with their food budget while poor people are morally deficient, stupid, and probably criminal so we need to make sure they don’t spend their money on lap dances and brown eggs.

    This moral calculus is a mainstay of conservatism. Always has been, always will be.Report

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *