Are Food Stamps the Soup Lines of this Great Recession?

Bloomberg notes that, as of 2007:

In Missouri, about 100 percent who were eligible [for food stamps] that year took advantage of the program, the highest rate in the nation, followed by residents of Maine and Michigan, at 91 percent and 89 percent, respectively …

Things have gotten much worse since 2007:


As the New York Times notes, “one in eight Americans and one in four children” receive food stamps.

Many economists and financial experts have said that we are in a depression. See this, this and this.

I hope they are wrong, or that – if we were in a depression – we’re out of it now.

But it is indisputable that the unemployment numbers are still grim. Specifically:

  • More people will be unemployed than during the Great Depression
  • By some measures, unemployment is worse than it was during a comparable time-frame in the Great Depression
  • Vice President Biden said recently: “It’s a depression for millions of Americans”

Given the above, Stacy Herbert’s question of today is compelling:

The food stamps story seems to be one that keeps popping up; I guess food stamps are the soup lines of this Great Depression?

Note: At least some economists say that food stamps give more bang for the buck in stimulating the economy than just about anything else. And see this. But economic, political and moral questions surrounding food stamps are beyond the scope of this essay.

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  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07742157936955263465 Onlooker

    Oh yes, make no mistake, we are in a depression. And just as the Great Depression didn't really get going and look that bad in the early years, we're just in the early innings of this new depression.And no doubt, food stamps are today's soup lines. Without this program and other programs (WIC, welfare, etc.) we would have massive soup lines, already. And this thing's just getting started. Thanks to all the idiocy of the last two decades, ignoring all those who shouted warnings, treating them as alarmist nut jobs.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00102619620539722241 Robert Hammer

    Nice post…I just mentioned the food stamps argument to one of my associates yesterday. The lines for this depression will be outside of emergency rooms. Check out this chart of the Athens (Greece) Index. I believe it could be a preview of what is to come here. Perfect 5 waves down. Almost textbook. Let me know what you think.http://absolute-investments.blogspot.com/2009/12/greece-preview-of-whats-to-come-shortly.html

  • http://Anonymousnoreply@blogger.com Anonymous

    I keep trying to impress upon everyone, a depression is not what anyone generally thinks it is. Here's a study, -a view-, a case in point.I have read and was also told by some really-oldsters about the '29 depression and how it effected northern Maine and some other communities with which I am familiar.It is pretty common knowledge, and I have discussed it here before, that a lot of farms were abandoned for their property taxes during the depression. As I described before, it wasn't so much that people didn't have the money to pay the property taxes, -it was rather -that to continue to pay them -was a losing proposition.Farms then, -small farms-, were productive units in the 1929 economy. These small farms could not produce the revenue necessary to justify the higher property taxes that came on with the swelling '29 depression.I've covered all that ground before.What is going to be so unmistakably stark about our experience this time around -with this depression- is the utter abandonment of whole communities.This is true because unlike the last depression when 90% of the people in the country lived -on the farm- now people generally live in beltways, subdivisions, wards and precincts and in super-suburban sprawl.The high cost of living, -commuting, the lack of jobs, and the impossibility of paying these associated costs- is going to make a lot of communities look just like Flint – Michigan -and countless others that have already or begun to succumb to this phenomenon of total abandonment.California has many communities that only currently look like Flint-lite. More than a dozen states are extensively falling free-fall toward this eventual outcome of total community abandonment.There is a growing underclass of many-millions living in motor vehicles, which would have seemed like an impossible luxury to the participants of the '29 recession. But of course the '29ers didn't have to contend with the high cost of trying to keep a vehicle running on today's roads.Food stamps -are- the bread line in this depression. But do not expect such obvious parallels everywhere you look for them.Community abandonment is encroaching everywhere -where municipal governments have run crazy with their budgets, their debt load -and their pension entitlements.And most municipal governments -have- run crazy with their budgets, their debt load -and their obscene pension entitlements.The whole country is being driven to the brink of not even being able to afford its retired government employees, let alone social security or the impossibly high cost of its ongoing, unionized, operational hobgobblinisms.

  • http://Anonymousnoreply@blogger.com Anonymous

    What's left to say?Perhaps Matt Taibbi most recent article lays out what most of now know:www.rollingstonecom/politics/story/31234647/obamas_big_selloutThe great (half white/black) hope turned(sold) out to be Wall St/Bankters newest puppet.Obama=crony capatialism. Actually, it might be worse than that.Especially if you all don't raise ruckus.Obama is the worst yet. Yes, even more so that dubya because Obama is educated and articulate.Too bad he sold out. Such is life.We MUST STOP the financial elites newest puppet ………..OBAMA!

  • http://Anonymousnoreply@blogger.com Anonymous

    You say you hope we're not in a depression or if we were, that we're out of it now.. Right now the depression hasn't even occured yet.. the past 15months has been pre-depression, much like the initial chills and sweats before the real flu takes hold of a person.. By Bush and Obama refusing to focus on everyday people rather than boosting the financial sector, the government has made future suffering far worse than it would have or ought to have been…

  • http://zidium.myvidoop.com/ zidium

    The depression will not end until one of two eventualities happen, or both:1. Massive adoption by many communities of distributed (where many people can print money) community currencies not tied to any fiat currency 2. Dissolvement of most of the world's major and minor fiat currencies until their highest denominated bills are worth about as much as wallpaper; and who wouldn't want a room covered floor to ceiling in Benjamins? It's going to happen.Of course, 2. is what they're aiming for, and they're going to ruthlessly suppress community currencies like they do other distributed mediums (Peer 2 Peer, etc.). Revolution and civil war seem likely in a great many countries, including America, but the EU will fracture or tyrranize first (they're headed toward fullscale tyranny).a

  • http://Anonymousnoreply@blogger.com Anonymous

    the massive growth in professional sports,seems to look like prosperity for our young people, we used to have more pride in belonging to a company years ago. Our sense of teamwork and spirit are being massaged and distracted. Bob

  • http://Anonymousnoreply@blogger.com Anonymous

    That's right the US in in a Depression and it is far from over. Just like the1929 Depression the GDP is rising and so is the stock market. Butwhat makes a depression is the wealth of the general population is gone or leaving, along with rising poverty. In 2009 poverty is clearly on the rise and food stamps is an indicator. But there are many more indicators like business and personal bankruptcies. Home foreclosures. The inability of the US to provide employment for it's people. Declining home values. The list is on and on and on as the economists and politicians look for green sprouts to dance and celebrate around. Even while the people of the US go hungary and many have become homeless.

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