Meme Busters: greatest recipient of food stamps are white and republican?

food_stamp_grocery_new_orleansMeme Busters: A variety of memes and articles have been meant to shame republicans that are opposed to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. The message: Owsley County, an overwhelmingly white and republican district, has more food stamps recipients as a percentage of residents than anywhere else in America.

First, and most importantly, there are not any credible republicans that argue that food stamps are bad because they go to black people and liberals.

Most republicans that oppose food stamps, like other social welfare programs, are opposed to the abuse of such benefits.

Republican’s issue with SNAP is, and always has been, giving benefits to those that otherwise have real opportunities for work.

There are no such opportunities in the Appalachian rust belt, or what Kevin D. Williamson of the National Review calls “The Big White Ghetto.”

Williamson describes the work outlook here: “Those who have the required work skills, the academic ability, or the simple desperate native enterprising grit to do so get the hell out as fast as they can, and they have been doing that for dec

meme busters
The Owsley Bridge

ades. As they go, businesses disappear, institutions fall into decline, social networks erode, and there is little or nothing left over for those who remain.”

Republican Hal Rogers represents Kentucky’s 5th district, where Owsley County can be found. Rogers recognizes the difference between the needy and the want-y. “Struggling children, seniors, veterans and families, clearly in need of assistance … compete against scammers, lottery winners, gamblers and others who may be able to work, but simply refuse.”

Rogers is correct that Owsley County residents fit the demographic of people most in need of assistance. A full two-thirds of SNAP recipients are minors, seniors, or disabled. The Center for Rural Affairs finds that rural areas fit this demographic more than elsewhere. “We found rural areas and small cities both have higher proportions of their households with senior and child residents receiving SNAP than do larger urban areas and the nation as a whole.”

minerStatistics also appear to reinforce the sentiment that there are many people abusing food stamps, as Rogers claims. As the national unemployment rate returns to pre-recession levels, the number of people on food stamps has failed to return to anywhere near pre-recessions levels. There were 28 million Americans on food stamps in 2008, the last time the unemployment rate was as low as it is today. However, there are around 46 million Americans using food stamps today despite the low unemployment rate.

If the economy has not truly recovered, as some have offered to explain the stubborn rate of food stamp recipients, this may explain why SNAP continues to be a popular program in rural and urban centers. But President Obama and most democrats would surely dispute this.

By the way, the people living within the Appalachian belt make up a fraction of the total people on food stamps. Comparing rural poverty with urban poverty in this regard is foolish, because the latter cost significantly more than the former.

A number of media outlets point out the irony that republicans oppose SNAP, but that rural, republican-controlled districts use food stamps at higher percentages. But what does this mean for the costs of the food stamp program? A total of 14.6 percent of rural citizens use SNAP, while 13.8 percent of food stamp recipients live in cities and urban areas. Absent from this discussion, though, is that 80 percent of Americans live in urban areas.

In other words, 7.3 million rural (most likely republican) citizens are on food stamps. Compare this with the 34.5 million people on food stamps living in urban (most likely democrat-controlled) areas, and the above meme seems a bit out of context. A super majority, or 82 percent, of food stamps recipients come from urban areas.

Simply comparing urban and rural unemployment rates to determine if rural areas are deserving of their high use of food stamps does not suffienciently explain the high rates. Appalachia’s unemployment rate was only 2 percent higher than America’s total in 2014. However, the situation becomes clearer for rural Appalachians when income levels are explored. A shocking 19.7 percent of Appalachians live below the poverty line, compared with 15.6 percent nationally.

It does not matter, but since this meme and other news stories supporting it make the case, it is worth mentioning that black food-assistanceAmericans are far more likely to be on food stamp than their white counterparts. Like many statistics offered by the Left relating to black Americans, the overall proportion of black to white citizens is discounted in order to make it appear that black Americans either do/do not fit a pattern. To say that more white people do something compared to blacks should also look at per capita rates, since blacks make up only 14 percent of the population.

By taking the county with the highest percentage of food stamp recipients, one can completely muddy up the food stamp debate. But Owsley County is hardly representative of both food stamp usage and poverty in America.

So, to summarize:

-Republicans have never disputed food stamps because the recipients are black and liberal. They dispute the abuse of SNAP.

-Owsley County may have the highest percentage of SNAP recipients, but there aren’t many people in rural Kentucky. In fact, 82 percent of food stamp users are from urban America.

-Food stamps are needed in Owsley County compared to elsewhere. Almost 20 percent of Appalachians live in poverty. There are not the opportunities in Owsley that there are in America’s major cities.

-Evidence suggests that people are abusing SNAP. Or the economy still sucks. You pick, democrats.

-Rural areas are composed of people in greater need of food assurance because of the need to care for senior, disabled, and minors.

-Black Americans are far more likely to be on food stamps than white Americans.

Consider this meme BUSTED!

Benjamin Baird

The Grand Master of Truth, Benjamin Baird is a veteran infantryman of Iraq and Afghanistan with over 1000 days in combat settings. He graduated with honors from the American Military University, studying Middle Eastern affairs with a concentration on Iraq. Ben is a freelance journalist, a proven military leader, and conservative super hero, responding to liberal villainy wherever it rears its ugly head.

  • Alex J

    This piece has some of the stupidest arguments I’ve ever read, and an underlying racism that is just plain sad.

    You know what? Let’s apply the GOP recipe then, but for real: every state is on it’s own, no more federal help or kickbacks, no more federal assistance. Make your own damn fiscal laws, and if you default, your state defaults then the state goes up for sale and other states can buy it and rewrite every single piece of legislation. Let’s see how long until all blue states that generate real economic growth in this country become owners of these red parasitic states, where utter morons continue to vote against their own interests.

  • Markee B

    “”There were 28 million Americans on food stamps in 2008, the last time the unemployment rate was as low as it is today. However, there are around 46 million Americans using food stamps today despite the low unemployment rate.
    If the economy has not truly recovered, as some have offered to explain the stubborn rate of food stamp recipients, this may explain why SNAP continues to be a popular program in rural and urban centers.””

    You are absolutely right about the economy(it’s a lame recovery) and ABSOLUTELY WRONG at the same time!!
    Why? Because you ignore the crummy wages and weaker benefits that the re-employed get. Low wage employment still needs SNAP benefits and Medicaid. It’s not only public welfare – it’s also Corporate Welfare, you know the gorilla in the conservative closet they refuse to acknowledge. And ignored also are the folks who simply gave up on getting a job – because age, poverty, pressure, fear, hopelessness take their toll. This was a very long, grinding recession because we fell so damn far. And the prolonged effects of a broken governmental response because of BIPARTISAN dysfunction that refused to cooperate for the good of the whole nation. Damn BOTH Parties for their failure of the American people.
    I used to be like you, I believed that everything liberals did/said was wrong and that every thing conservatives did/said was right. For 35 damn years, scapegoating every social ill upon those damn liberals as if conservatives fell down from heaven without sin…

    Then I woke up, stopped drinking the conservative political/ religious hate koolaid. I repented and chose to follow the teachings of Jesus, the Christ of God. No more scapegoating others. No more cherry picked scriptures or facts. No more “Moral Majority” propaganda or Pentecostal false prophets or corrupt televangelists, nothing but attempting to apply Jesus teachings to current local, national, and international problems. It’s much more difficult than the simplistic positions of right wing religion and politics.

    You, my veteran friend, (thank you for your service, BTW) seem to be cherry picking facts OR perhaps innocently repeating those who do.

    PLEASE learn this – a fact or a few facts NEVER tell the full story about anything. Unless “facts” are presented in the proper context of a host of other relevant facts to provide a full and fair opportunity for understanding, you are basically promoting an altered lie opposing the lie you want to disprove. Essentially creating a diversion away from truth instead of directing to “the truth” about the topic at hand. PLEASE endeavor with all your heart to present accurate, balance expositions of your complaints/arguments. This is not a war where swift destruction of the enemy is paramount. This is civil discourse in a search for a common truth that as many Americans as possible can live with each other in peace and prosperity. And our truth has to work, function, produce the promised results … or it’s not really truth at all. It’s just more failed promises, more partisan propaganda producing no real answers.

    Blessings to you, your loved ones and Peace in this Christmas Season and New Year.

    • Thank you for your articulate response. I value your input and opinion in this matter of civil discourse. You make some very coherent assertions but your premise–that I am blinded by partisanship–is unsupported.

      First, let us address the intangible, or the ideological crux of your argument. I dispute any argument based upon the foolish notion that being moderate or centrist is somehow equivalent to intellectual authority. Being a conservative, and finding that most of my values align with the Republican Party does not make me a misguided partisan. This website is called Crusade of Truth for a reason: I endeavor to find the truth, not promote any political faction. In doing so, you may find that the truth appears to coincide with great partiality with conservative ideals. This is no accident; when exploring any given policy or issue, and including all of the supporting contextual developments, as you rightly insist, I find that there are some very strict ideological constants. The conservative appreciation for self-reliance, for instance, may be applied to a vast array of issues, from the size of government to social welfare programs. It is this awareness of fundamentals that creates the proclivity for one party or the other.

      Your own analytical ambiguity should not be confused with intellectual superiority. Indeed, your implication that I am “cherry-picking” facts or “scapegoating” liberals betrays your unfamiliarity with my objectivity. You will find on this very website numerous articles defending the policies of Barack Obama when I feel that this is merited. I will criticize Trump when appropriate. I will always explore competing sources when developing an article or essay, in order to dispute anticipated responses. But I will never compromise my ideological core.

      Sometimes, the truth is elusive. Some things cannot be easily quantified. At times, the complexity of issues is undervalued. The present state of the Middle East is a perfect example of this: much of academia assigns blame for contemporary problems plaguing the region on a brief period of European imperialism. This answer is neat, simple, and corresponds with the Left’s obsession with white privilege. It is also wrong, and I can defend this thesis with not just biased facts, as you suggest, but a whole compendium of scholarly references. Conversely, some issues are less complex than some might suggest. Many of the problems facing the African American community, for instance, are attributed to systemic racism, police brutality, and white privilege. However, I contend that many of these crises are cultural in nature, and until a problem is properly diagnosed a solution will be lacking. My point is that I am fully aware of the malleability of factual information and the propensity for some to shape it to their agenda.I am neither “innocently repeating” these partisans nor am I being selective with my choice of sources. I am happy to debate any perceived instances of this.

      Your religious awakening, while admirable and enviable, is frankly irrelevant in the pursuit of Truth.

      Now, to address the concrete: “Because you ignore the crummy wages and weaker benefits that the re-employed get. Low wage employment still needs SNAP benefits and Medicaid. It’s not only public welfare – it’s also Corporate Welfare, you know the gorilla in the conservative closet they refuse to acknowledge. And ignored also are the folks who simply gave up on getting a job – because age, poverty, pressure, fear, hopelessness take their toll. This was a very long, grinding recession because we fell so damn far. And the prolonged effects of a broken governmental response because of BIPARTISAN dysfunction that refused to cooperate for the good of the whole nation. Damn BOTH Parties for their failure of the American people.”

      I addressed on two occasions that the recovery may not be as complete as the Obama administration and Department of Labor or reporting. I first said this: “If the economy has not truly recovered, as some have offered to explain the stubborn rate of food stamp recipients, this may explain why SNAP continues to be a popular program in rural and urban centers. But President Obama and most democrats would surely dispute this.”

      And then I said this: “Evidence suggests that people are abusing SNAP. Or the economy still sucks. You pick, democrats.”

      So I acknowledged the potential for all of the labor factors you mentioned. I have long believed that Obama was not selling Americans the full story when it comes to our economy. This very well may explain why so many Americans are still on food stamps. Even though I acknowledge this suspicion, in fact it has very little bearing on the overall thesis of the article.

      Finally, you say that the dysfunction from both parties is responsible for our current state. I could not disagree with you more. President Bush went before Congress on 17 different occasions in order to persuade the Left to regulate trading mortgage backed securities and to stop subprime mortgages. The latter began in the Clinton era as a means of putting minorities into homes that they ultimately could not afford, and the former had the full and complete backing of Senators like Barney Frank who were beholden to banking interests. Bush sought to regulate both, which would have prevented the economic crisis we experienced in 2008. You know, the Great Idiot GW Bush…

      So our government found itself in disarray and with a shrunken budget–especially after bailing out the banks (Obama’s bail outs far exceeded those planned by Bush and the Right). So we had to decide how to make cuts. We needed to raise taxes and certainly cut spending. The Dems wanted the republicans to raise taxes on the rich, and the GOP wanted the dems to cut social programs. Behind closed doors a deal was made, and republicans raised taxes on the rich for the first time in 30 years. However, the dems failed to uphold their end of the bargain by cutting social programs, and so the sequester followed. This was a calculated move by the dems, because they knew that the sequester hurt the GOP more than themselves with huge cuts to defense spending. Thus was born a reluctance by the GOP to work with the Left.

      There is a right and a wrong with some issues. Clear winners and abject losers. I will not be reluctant to expose either in order to satisfy some artificial pursuit for moderation.

    • Benjamin Baird

      First, I genuinely hope that you are notified of this reply, despite the interminable time which has passed since you offered your comments. Forgive me, as I thought I had replied to this response at some point in the past…

      You acknowledge my reference to a lame economic recovery, but then subsequently proceed to explain an aspect of slow economic growth (low wages, citizens leaving the labor force). Therefore, I am uncertain how this makes me simultaneously absolutely right and absolutely wrong by “ignoring the crummy wages and weaker benefits” of the post-recovery economy. I certainly acknowledge a slow recovery, as well as the troubling dilemma this creates for democrats.

      But if you are suggesting that low wages and the dropout of workers from the labor force, as well as corporate welfare (see below) sufficiently explains the perpetually high post-recovery SNAP enrollments, you are ABSOLUTELY WRONG.

      The USDA under Obama initiated a massive campaign to increase SNAP enrollment, even enlisting workers with enrollment quotas to satisfy plans for record breaking enrollment. With SNAP-based BINGO games for low-income elderly and “SNAP parties” facilitated by the USDA, this growth is systemic and influenced by factors obviously outside of the state of the labor market. In fact, the 2008 Farm Bill dramatically changed the requirements for receiving SNAP, and later in 2009 the work requirement for SNAP was dropped altogether. SNAP has become a program of dependency, with the majority of enrollees receiving benefits for the last decade, and nearly 70 percent of SNAP participants have been receiving benefits for 5 or more years. Does this sound to you like the results of a lame economic recovery, or institutional welfare? States can now use something called categorical eligibility to enroll recipients, which allows them to relax the standards for who can be enrolled in SNAP by simply basing eligibility upon their participation in other, state-run welfare programs.

      Have you ever looked at how the government defines hunger? Many government agencies are even reluctant to use the word at all today, and instead use the word “food insecurity.” A person is food insecure if they worry about an inability to purchase food, but not necessarily miss a meal.The Dept of Education defines hunger in a child as missing one or more meals a week. Thus a child that foregoes breakfast is hungry. With these standards, how can we be sure that SNAP is effective at completing its mission?

      In 2009, $2.2 billion of SNAP benefits were paid in error. These are not singular statistics that I present to you in order to support a conservative narrative. Rather, this is a body of evidence.

      If, by corporate welfare, you mean deregulating our businesses and industries, or otherwise reducing taxes on sectors of the economy that should have never been taxed in the first place by treating corporations as people–then I am all for corporate welfare. Here, like in many other areas, I observe strict partisan differences in the way that corporations are regulated, taxed, and treated. Like with numerous social and fiscal causes, a strict binary exists between the Left and the Right. All too often, I encounter a worldview and political platform that I find unpalatable.

      Let me explain insofar as corporate interests are concerned–since you brought up corporate welfare as some conservative invention. The Left prefers to regulate and tax big business. The Right prefers the opposite. However, the policy differences are truly noteworthy when looking at how the Left includes businesses in their government ventures. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are prime examples of this. But we also see a unique Leftist version of corporate welfare with SNAP benefits. From Freedom Works:

      “According to public health lawyer Michele Simon of eatdrinkpolitics, ‘SNAP represents the largest, most overlooked corporate subsidy in the farm bill.’ Food stamp programs guarantee large corporations consistent cash flow, creating a powerful corporate lobbying group that seeks to prevent cuts or changes to SNAP. For example, J.P. Morgan has contracts for Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards used for SNAP in half the states and has spent millions of dollars lobbying Congress. In addition, large food retailers like Kroger and Walmart gain large shares of SNAP purchases. In some states, Walmart captures upwards to 50 percent of all SNAP purchases. These companies now have a vested interest in opposing any attempts to decrease food stamp enrollment.”

      This is the type of corporate welfare that the Left pursues, and it is tantamount to government cronyism. Fannie and Freddie were no different in this regard, and–again, since you bring it up–the failure of our economy was a uniquely liberal adventure. From the efforts of Clinton-era HUD to put every minority in home, to the foul practice of trading subprime mortgages as an asset, democrats left their political DNA all over the fiscal scene of the crime. Furthermore, GW Bush tried to avert this disaster by leading with Congress on 17 times to regulate the subprime disaster, while leading Dems opposed him. Again, this is why I have aligned myself so fervently against the Left.

      But the atrocities and economic disasters proceeded as expected during the recovery, leading to the lame and slow process which you cite. First, Obama went above and beyond any GOP plans for a bailout of banks. Even after this, Obama passed executive orders that directly violated the separation of powers; when the Senate voted against an auto manufacturer bailout, Obama simply overturned this vote by implementing an EO. He then turned GM into a socialist testing ground for hybrid projects, despite market imperatives that showed no demand for these.

      Liberal mismanagement also produced the sequester–cuts to the military that hurt my unit while I was deployed for the last time. How did this come to pass? In order to avoid a sequester, which would hurt both parties goals but mostly the GOP because the military took the brunt of the cuts, dems and republicans negotiated. If the GOP raised taxes on the rich, the democrats would cut social programs. After the deal was secured, the GOP raised taxes on the “wealthy” for the first time in 20-some years. However, the expected cuts from the Left never manifested themselves, and conservatives had to stomach a loss on two fronts. This alienated the GOP to such an extent that the government shut down of 2013 was an act of desperation, if not retribution for the unprecedented partisanship.

      I am happy that you have found a spiritual power to guide and sustain you. I am also happy that you seem committed to the Truth. I should hope that the name of this website demonstrates to you my commitment to the meaning of this word. But please do not confuse your political ambiguity, moderation and newfound bipartisanship with your possessing some sort wisdom or factual monopoly. In many instances, there are observable rights and wrongs in this world. There are ideologies that, by their basic foundations, hold erroneous views on a whole host of issues. I maintain that the liberal establishment in this country, externalized by hegemonies within academia, the press, and the entertainment industry, possesses a political platform that is incompatible with my own values on a very fundamental level. As such, I will oppose them at every turn.

      In closing, please read my statements regarding SNAP within the context of my main arguments embedded in the article. In other words, I do not argue that it is entirely unnecessary. My thesis is, first and foremost, that white Appalachians are not the greatest recipients of welfare, although they are the most in need. Therefore, SNAP must be protected and set aside for those most in need of assistance. In order to preserve this program while also balancing a budget, lawmakers should reassess the program.