by Victor Davis Hanson
NRO’s The Corner
Concerning the news that there is no longer any stigma attached to food stamps, and that one in eight Americans is on the “nutritional aid” program: One would think that if real need explained increased usage, “Black Friday” would have been a bust. But perhaps the opposite occurred, and Thanksgiving holiday sales were good (as I can attest from witnessing a stampede at the Selma Wal-Mart). One then cannot quite believe that one in eight Americans did not go on the annual shopping spree.
This is similar to the illegal-immigration/healthcare debate. Most estimates (which are low, I think) suggest that there are around 11 million illegal immigrants living in the United States, and that $40-50 billion in remittances is sent back annually to Latin America and Mexico, much of it apparently remitted by illegal aliens. Which means that if the average illegal-immigrant family spent its remittance money on healthcare, it would probably be able to afford a comprehensive HMO plan.
One could conclude that, in this day and age, when the government provides an entitlement, at least two things inevitably follow: (1) recipients calculate the subsidy into a budget, and then use the resulting freed-up cash for other discretionary expenditures; (2) government and the media provide the requisite narrative of Joad-like, Depression-era need to justify continuing and then expanding the program.
©2009 Victor Davis Hanson