Monday, July 15, 2013


Paul Krugman's column today concerns the House vote on the farm bill:
Over the years, ... [f]arm subsidies became a fraud-ridden program that mainly benefits corporations and wealthy individuals. Meanwhile food stamps became a crucial part of the social safety net.

So House Republicans voted to maintain farm subsidies -- at a higher level than either the Senate or the White House proposed -- while completely eliminating food stamps from the bill.

To fully appreciate what just went down, listen to the rhetoric conservatives often use to justify eliminating safety-net programs. It goes something like this: "You’re personally free to help the poor. But the government has no right to take people's money" -- frequently, at this point, they add the words "at the point of a gun" --"and force them to give it to the poor."

It is, however, apparently perfectly O.K. to take people's money at the point of a gun and force them to give it to agribusinesses and the wealthy.

Now, some enemies of food stamps don't quote libertarian philosophy; they quote the Bible instead. Representative Stephen Fincher of Tennessee, for example, cited the New Testament: "The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat." Sure enough, it turns out that Mr. Fincher has personally received millions in farm subsidies.
Atrios says:
One does wonder whether the assholes in the House are just evil, whether they truly don't have any awareness of what it's like to be poor, especially in a recession, and whether they have any idea just how meager food stamp benefits are. This isn't quite the normal stupid or evil question, it's more a stupid or clueless/no empathy question.
I think what they really believe is that if you're poor, well, you deserve to be poor, no matter what the overall economy is like -- God and the free market (neither of which ever make a mistake) made you poor because you have poverty coming to you (because you chose to do things that made you poor, mostly having to do with laziness and sex and substance abuse). You are meant to suffer -- and those evil liberals who insist on mandating that you get a helping hand from the taxpayer are interfering with God's plan for you, and messing with the mechanisms of the marketplace, which are divinely ordained and are part of natural law.

Rich agribusiness firms, on the other hand, have clearly been favored by God -- they wouldn't be rich if God didn't think they were doing the right thing. They're rich enough to pay for lobbyists who get laws passed favorable to their interests -- just as nature (i.e., the free market, which is part of God's plan) intended. So, yes, of course it's perfectly OK to take people's money at the point of a gun and force them to give it to agribusinesses and the wealthy.

But as for the poor, the decision to let them suffer doesn't stem a lack of empathy -- it's a display of empathy. They've earned this suffering. It's good for them. It should teach them the error of their ways. God and the free market (which are pretty much the same thing) agree.


Victor said...

For a bunch of Jesus freaks, none of them seem to have ever read the New Testament.

I guess they just can't get past fapping to the Old Testament - you know, the one with all of the begating, the slaves, the multiple wives and concubines, and the Lord's righteous fury and anger and vengeance.

Why turn the other cheek, when you want to sh*t down someone's throat?

Dark Avenger said...

And you know that sitting in attendance at the local megachurch/denomination of your choice are the usual hypocrites, thieves, closet cases, etc. The Pharisees were the Jewish equivalent of todays' evangelicals, more interested in feathering their nests then helping the poor, feeding the starving, etc.

Matthew 23

Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples,

2 Saying The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat:

3 All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not.

4 For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.

5 But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments,

6 And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues,

7 And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi.

8 But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren.

9 And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven.

10 Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ.

11 But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant.

12 And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.

BH said...

Twas ever thus. Or at least since Calvin enlightened us all with the doctrine of the elect, & most of our revered Puritan & Pilgrim forebears erected their city on the (dung?)hill. Prosperity being an outward sign of deevine grace, y'unnerstand. That Sermon-onna-Mount was passe' long before; just a bit of sweetener for the lumpen.

Theophylact said...

Yip Harburg got it right:

When a rich man doesn't want to work,
He's a bon vivant, yes, he's a bon vivant,
But when a poor man doesn't want to work,
He's a loafer, he's a lounger, he's a lazy good for nothing, he's a jerk.

When a rich man loses on a horse, isn't he the sport?
Oh isn't he the sport?
But when a poor man loses on a horse,
He's a gambler, he's a spender, he's a lowlife,
He's a reason for divorce.

When a rich man chases after dames,
He's a man about town, oh, he's a man about town,
But when a poor man chases after dames,
He's a bounder, he's a rounder, he's a rotter and a lotta dirty names.

When the idle poor become the idle rich,
You'll never know just who is who or who is which

neroden@gmail said...

Calvinism. The favorite doctrine of 0.1%ers who want to justify being rich and making poor people poorer.