Reliable Security Information

Failed State: As defined by food stamp use

The US national security machine and its army of private sector warning robots disguised as human beings whirs and buzzes, scanning the world for menaces as the country rots from the inside out. Triumphant that it's greased some fleabags in Yemen or added another one hundred unmanned flying or crawling machines to its mighty arsenal, it's missed all the serious indicators of danger, those nasty internal signs, like the 44-45 million people on food stamps.

But this blog is not administered by robots. And so your host came up with some eye-popping statistics to frame the astonishing number of people on food stamps in our nation.

By itself, the number is huge. Still, it becomes more depressing when the magnitude of it is put in context.

Food stamp usage in the US is a symbol of national economic failure so systemic it takes your breath away. It is rock solid proof the US economy does not provide jobs which earn a fair living for a polyglot cohort that dwarfs entire western nations.

And the great and powerful Oz's of our national defense structure are really on the stick, aren't they? While they were getting the lion's share of national swag during the last decade, a Biblical mass of their countrymen were applying for food assistance.

So let's take a moment to see what that means for the United States.

If food stamp distribution were disrupted in this country, the result would be hunger. Hunger great enough to cause riots. And the immediate loss of the vast pool of money food stamps inject into private sector food sellers would trigger yet another severe economic collapse.

Between 44 and 45 million Americans use food stamps.

Let's look at the populations of selected western countries:

Population of Norway 4.8 million
Sweden 9.3 million
UK 61.8 million
Spain 45.9
Greece 11.2

Three quarters of England fit in the US basket of food stamp recipients. Or Sweden, Norway, and Greece combined with a good surplus left over. Or 99 percent of Spain.

If you add up the populations of the 50 states, starting with the least, the number of people on food stamps in the US is a number that roughly includes the summed populations of:

Wyoming, Vermont, Alaska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Delaware, Montana, Rhode Island, Hawaii, New Hampshire, Maine, Idaho, Nebraska, West Virginia, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, Arkansas, Kansas, Mississippi, Iowa, Connecticut, Oregon, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Kentucky.

That's 26 states.

Wow! That really puts Anwar al-whatsisname and the guy who allegedly made underwear bombs that didn't really work in perspective, don't it?

Food stamp use cuts across a wide swath of American society.

This shows that even when one excludes the unemployed, a mass of jobs large enough to fill foreign nations provide work which is not compensated well enough to make a decent living.

"Working hard but still struggling to make ends meet?" reads a food assistance website run by the state of New York. "Food stamp benefits can help you put food on the table ... Food stamp benefits help low-income working people."

Such jobs are essentially slave labor in which ruinous corporate wages are offset by government subsidy.

One can look at it as a process in which corporate America depressed wages for a fair day's work, maximizing profit by shoving part of the cost of a barely subsistence wage onto the government, and by extension, the taxpayer.

This can only be seen as entrenched predatory behavior. Or an obvious threat to the security and way of life of American citizens.

Now, for just a moment, let's swing back to the buzzing and whirring national security machine. Since the onset of the war on terror, US defense contractors enjoyed an immense boom. They are among the biggest and wealthiest companies in the world.

But here we read something on the number of families of US soldiers on food stamps (from the Newman Times-Herald, Newman, GA):

Lately a lot of complaints have been made about the food stamp program. Let's take a look a one group that gets food stamps -- 14,000 military families were on food stamps in 2000.

The Pentagon does not keep track of any military families that are on food stamps. President Bush in 2001 decided to authorize a $500 subsistence pay increase that was taxable in order to help military families get off food stamps. It did not work. Military families increased on food stamps because food stamps are non-taxable.

From 2008 to 2009 military families were using food stamps at twice the rate as civilians, 25 percent to 13 percent. About $31 million of food stamps were used in nationwide commissaries.

From July 2009 to March 2011 in Oklahoma, where there are four military bases -- Fort Sill, Tinker AFB, Vance AFB, Altus AFB -- $1.8 million in food stamps was spent.

President Obama, in the 2010 Defense Authorization Bill, increased the food subsistence program for military families to $1,100 and made it non-taxable to help get families off food stamps. But will it?

The military pay scale does not match cost of living anywhere in America. So if the U.S can only pay men and women who volunteer to serve and protect our freedom a wage that reflects poverty, how can anyone complain about someone else getting food stamps?

Not very fair now, is it? National disgrace is one way of describing it.

Historically, food insecurity is linked to civil unrest and conflict.

The food stamp program in the US serves a great purpose. And as a result not too many Americans think of ours as a place where violent food riots could erupt.

This post was originally published in a longer and more even pointier version at
Dick Destiny blog. Where no robots are allowed.

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