One of the greatest lies about unemployment benefits and food stamps is that they are an “economic stimulus.” The claim has been repeated — and embellished — for years by everyone from politicians, to left-wing columnists, to the compassionate clergy. And in the case of food stamps, it’s the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) that keeps planting the seeds from which this lie repeatedly sprouts. And with our money.
Food stamps bring federal dollars into communities in the form of benefits that are redeemed by participants at local stores, says the USDA. The USDA further claims that “every $5 in new” food stamp “benefits generate a total of $9.20 in community spending; every additional dollar’s worth of … benefits generates 17 to 47 cents of new spending on food”; and that, “on average, $1 billion of retail food demand by” food stamp “recipients generates 3,300 farm jobs.”
Back in 2012, the USDA went as far as to claim that if the national participation rate rose 5 percentage points, $1.3 billion in food stamp benefits would create $2.5 billion in new economic activity nationwide. “Imagine the economic stimulus that could be created if the food stamp participation rate increased to 100 percent,”
Professor Perry reminds. “Simply put, there can be no economic stimulus from increased food stamp usage.” And as with food stamps, as with unemployment benefits, economics scholar Art Laffer reminded in a 2010 Wall Street Journal commentary: “(W)hen it comes to higher” — or, we would add, extended — “unemployment benefits or any other stimulus spending, the resources given to the unemployed have to be taken from someone else. There isn’t a ‘tooth fairy.’ … The government doesn’t create resources. It redistributes them. For everyone who is given something there is someone who has that something taken away.” Nicholas Ling, a Shakespeare publisher, once offered that “Ignorance is a voluntary misfortune.” How tragic it is that our taxes and charitable donations too often underwrite this purposeful misrepresentation.
Sources—pittsburgh tribune review, colin mcnickle