Food stamps can be a blessing. If I recall correctly, my family qualified for a food program when our first child was born. The food was great, and better in general than we usually bought for ourselves. I know some whose lives are improved by food stamps too.
One in nine Americans uses food stamps to buy groceries, a record number due to recession and job losses, and more than 30 million children count on USDA-funded school programs for lunch.
So out of nine people, eight are paying taxes so that the last one can get help with food. And those USDA funds for school programs (in which I also participated)? Yep, they also come from taxes.
Now, you might disagree. It’s not tax money that pays for these things any more, but borrowed federal money. OK, but isn’t that just another kind of tax? It’s like saying “I didn’t really pay for that big screen TV; I put it on my credit card!” Somebody will pay.
But here’s my question. That tax money now spent for food stamps and lunch programs — what would have been done with it had it not been taxed in the first place?
The claim is made that some rich guy would have just kept it moldering in his massive bank account. (Because really, only one or two of those eight people are paying nearly all the bill.) But that claim doesn’t make sense. Savings accounts are only federally insured through something like $250k, and their interest rate is abysmal. If you’ve got many millions to look after, you’ve got to find better places than that. You’ve got to invest it in various ways.
So business owners grow their businesses. Investors grow the businesses of others. Growing businesses hire workers. Workers do something with their time that benefits other people, and they take home a paycheck. Their paycheck is used to buy things like groceries and school lunches.
It’s a great system. A free economy is really God’s gift, as wealth is generated and distributed according to the biblical maxim: “If a man will not work, neither shall he eat.” Those who do work benefit from their own labor, and they also have the opportunity to help others. God doesn’t need our help, but all our neighbors do. When we work together and help one another, we become God’s blessings to each other.
Now inject food stamps and USDA lunch programs into the free economy. It saps vigor from the overall economy in the form of taxes, and it encourages a few to eat without working. Or seen another way, it encourages a few to buy that essential big-screen TV or those custom chrome wheels first, and then let their uptown neighbors pay the grocery bill.
Understand, I have no problem with charity. Gifts of charity are a good thing, a natural and beneficial outgrowth of the Christian faith. Just don’t confuse charity with taxes, which simply can’t do nearly as much good for anyone. They are not given voluntarily; they are taken. Then they are used in ways that undermine the economy that generated the tax money in the first place. Perhaps not intentionally. Perhaps.
I think I’ll have some tea now.
HT: The Mom