The inexorable Ratchet of Government

In the Huffington Post several years ago, a pro-health-care blogger posited:

Change is a math formula: C=Co(SQ)>R(C). The formula reads: Change happens when the cost of the status quo is greater than the risk of change.”

At the time, the author was using this to argue for the Healthcare law. His application actually pointed out the fallacy in his formula: what he was changing to wasn’t adequately defined. Remember, we had to pass the bill to find out what was in it. I think the formula could work, however, IF the change is a return to a previous, known data point (e.g. “do we stay, or do we go back“?).

Say, for instance, in the spending on Food Stamps. From the Daily Caller:

The vast majority of federal spending in the Senate farm bill, which is  estimated to cost over $100 billion annually, is going toward food stamps,  representing a 100 percent increase since President Barack Obama took office,  according to Alabama Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions.

“The legislation will spend $82 billion on food stamps next year, $82 billion and an estimated $770 billion over the next ten years. So, to put these figures  in perspective, and they’re so large it’s difficult to comprehend, we will spend next year $40 billion on the federal highway program,” said Sessions, the  ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee.

“Food stamp spending has more than quadrupled, four times, it’s increased fourfold since the year 2001. It has increased 100 percent since President Obama  took office,” he said.

Even though he has worsened this trend, we can’t lay all of this at Obama’s feet. What Mark Steyn likes to refer to as the inexorable ‘ratchet’ effect of government is a bi-partisan effort. In much the same way that water always seeks its own level, government always seeks to grow larger.

Always.

From budget.senate.gov:

“While the poor economy has undeniably increased the number of people on food stamps, this alone cannot explain the extraordinary growth in the program. For instance, between 2001 and 2006, food stamp spending doubled—but the unemployment rate remained around five percent.” (**which qualifies as full employment – JTR)

Three factors help explain this extraordinary increase.

–The first is that eligibility standards have been loosened over time, with a dramatic drop in eligibility standards in the last few years.

Second, it has been the explicit policy goal of the federal bureaucracy to increase the number of people on food stamps—bonus pay is even offered to those states who sign more people up.

–And third, the way the system is arranged—with states administering the program but the feds paying for it—states have an incentive to see their food stamp budgets swell, not shrink. That means overlooking a dramatic amount of fraud and abuse.

There is no question that food stamps help some truly needy families. But there is even less question that this program is being abused like an 8-yr-old at a blackjack table.

Take a look at THIS chart: when you think “Farm Bill”, aren’t you picturing stuff that has to do with, oh, I don’t know, …farms?

GBL wrote about this the other day, arriving at the same conclusion: this program, regardless of its original good intentions, has become corrupted far in excess of anyone’s worst nightmares. And this is just one example of countless such abuses.

—–

What needs to happen, what must happen, is plain for anyone who is willing to see. It’s the change formula which I referenced at the beginning. The cost of the status quo is the ever-increasing levels of dependency of our country upon our government. The change is means testing and strict controls for Food Stamp eligibility, rather than the awarding of Stamps being an end unto itself.

The conclusion from budget.senate.gov sums it up perfectly:

“We need to re-establish the moral principle that federal welfare should be seen as temporary assistance, not permanent support. The goal should be to help people become independent and self-sufficient.

Such reforms, made sincerely and with concern for those in need, will improve America’s social, fiscal, and economic health.”

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2 responses to “The inexorable Ratchet of Government

  1. Pingback: Food Stamp fraud & abuse: “Business as Usual” « Two Heads are Better Than One

  2. Pingback: We can’t eliminate Government Waste, because Waste is what Government DOES | Two Heads are Better Than One

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