Sunday, September 22, 2013

A Beltarian Discusses Food Stamps

Tyler Cowen writes:
In an ideal policy world, would food stamps exist as a program separate from cash transfers?  Probably not.  But as it stands today, they are still one of the more efficient programs of the welfare state and the means-testing seems to work relatively well.  And giving people food stamps — since almost everyone buys food — is almost as flexible as giving them cash.  It doesn’t make sense to go after food stamps, and you can read the recent GOP push here as a sign of weakness, namely that they, beyond upholding the sequester, are unwilling to tackle the more important and more wasteful targets, including Medicare and also defense spending, not to mention farm subsidies.  Here are a few basic numbers on when food stamps have grown and what has driven that growth.  It has not become a “problem program” in the way that say disability has.
Bottom line: All government programs are problem programs. How can the concept of "still one of the more efficient programs of the welfare state" be uttered by a so-called libertarian? Charity should be left to the private sector. It is comments like these that put the "belt" in beltarian.  It is all about coercion.


  1. Even Ron Paul chose not to go after food stamps at first because he recognized that governmental policy had created dependency on these programs. I don't think it's un-libertarian to acknowledge this. Notice, however, that Cowen doesn't even go this far. Indeed, he asks:
    "In an ideal policy world, would food stamps exist as a program separate from cash transfers? " In his ideal policy world, there would be some kind of redistribution by the government. This question speaks volumes.

    In an "ideal [libertarian] policy world" neither food stamps nor cash transfers would exist. This is my point of contention with Cowen. I think it's reasonable to point out that small-government conservatives should target other more problematic programs before they go after food stamps. I agree with Cowen that the fact that they do so only proves their position is weak (unpopular).

    However, its clear from Bob's post and the above line that Mr. Cowen is no libertarian.

  2. To be honest, I don't know that Cowen was ever considered to be a libertarian. If he was, then that is certainly news to me.

    1. Are you kidding? At one time he was considered by some the next Murray Rothbard.

  3. Ideal worlds?...go after the weak, not the strong....change your focus.

    SEC Omitted Dimon Misinformed Investors on April 13, 2012 Earnings Call

    The SEC filed a cease-and-desist order on September 19, 2013 in the matter of JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s “London Whale” credit derivatives trading incident and misstatement of earnings. JPMorgan admitted it violated securities laws and agreed to pay a $920 million settlement.

    The release mentioned that JPMorgan filed inaccurate reports with the SEC: Form 8-K filed April 13, 2012 and Form 10-Q filed May 10, 2012. The SEC also listed several failures by senior management defined as the JPMorgan Chief Executive Officer, the JPMorgan Chief financial Officer, the JPMorgan Chief Risk Officer, the JPMorgan controller, and the JPMorgan General Auditor. But the report doesn’t mention them by name, and in particular, it doesn’t mention Jamie Dimon by name, even though he is both the Chief Executive Officer and the Chairman of the Board.

    Dimon’s widely reported earnings call on April 13, 2013 not only misinformed the public, Dimon was dismissive of credible news reports about huge credit derivatives positions and mounting losses in JPMorgan Chase’s Chief Investment Office unit that reported to Dimon. Not only did he dismiss the reports, he didn’t disclose the size of the losses he already knew about, and the numbers were whopping. Reported losses eventually mounted to $6.2 billion.

    Senate Investigation Showed JPMorgan Executives Misinformed the Public

    1. but you don't see the mechanics of the system, its not there to help the poor, its to transfer money to the massive agribusinesses. Libertarians want to shut down government not because we like giving a knee to the nuts of the recipients of the programs some of whom have grown to depend and who its very hard to give them up but the very cozy and corrupting relationship between the powerful in business and government. If government goes then business can only focus on doing what their customers wants and if they don't ....its that simple