Friday, February 08, 2013

It's a promise


Misleading Food Stamp Campaign By "Progressive" Officials

by Hans Bader

As the son of a widow, and as a person who once ate on far less than a food stamp budget, I am amused by the wealthy, privileged progressive officials who make it sound like they can’t eat properly on $5 a day. You can find such people featured in a Washington Post story yesterday entitled “Montgomery Officials Try Eating for $5 a Day.” Supposedly, they are doing this in “an attempt to simulate” life for participants in the federal food stamp program, which now has a “record” “46.2 million people” in it “at a cost of more than $70 billion.” Are they really that bad at managing their money? It makes me wonder if some of them were born with a silver spoon in their mouth.

As a young lawyer, I consistently spent less than $5 a day on food — generally less than a dollar per meal — and managed to have a well-balanced diet including nutritious vegetables and healthy proteins. Indeed, in 2007, The Washington Post itself had a story in its health section about how various people, such as a chef and a natural foods store owner, were able to live quite well on a food stamps budget. For example, Rick Hindle, executive chef for the Skadden, Arps law firm, “showed recently that you don’t have to spend hours in the kitchen to prepare healthful food for $1 or less per meal.” You can easily spend less on food than the poorest food stamp recipients and still enjoy a healthy, low-fat diet rich in vitamins and fiber. That’s what a Quaker vegetarian found when he decided to limit his weekly spending on food to a food stamp budget, even though he ate only organic food (which costs much more than typical food).

Earlier, Maryland food stamp official Kevin McGuire tried to rationalize spending more taxpayer money on food stamps by putting himself on the “Food Stamp Challenge,” a deceptive exercise in which participants deliberately live on less than any actual food stamp recipient has to spend on food. Participants live entirely “on an average food stamp benefit,” even though it’s just part of the food budget of the people who actually receive it. The “average” benefit is given to people who have income of their own to spend; it is less than the maximum food stamp benefit, which is what people with little other income to spend on food receive.

Back when I was single, I ate a well-balanced diet while spending far less over the long term than the “average food stamp benefit.” I ate lots of potatoes (which are cheap and nutritious, more so than the pasta McGuire ate, which, unlike potatoes, contains no vitamin C and few minerals), plenty of cheap canned fish and vegetables bought in bulk (I bought 500 cans of tuna, an excellent source of protein, on sale for 20 cents each, and filled my small car with them), plus milk, bananas, and carrots. Similarly, when my wife first immigrated to America, she managed to eat plenty of nutritious vegetables while living on a salary of less than $1,200 per month, and spending less than food stamp recipients do on food.

Record numbers of Americans are now on food stamps, food stamp fraud has risen into the billions, and even wealthy people have become eligible for food stamps in some states as the federal government rewards states for expanding eligibility to people who don’t need them. (Meanwhile, as James Bovard noted in The Wall Street Journal, “The Obama Administration is . . . cracking down on state governments’ antifraud measures.”)

More HERE  (See the original for links)


Michigan Union Tell-All

A memo shows how unions hope to keep coercing worker dues.

When Michigan became the 24th right-to-work state late last year, everyone knew unions would try to overturn or otherwise neuter the law. Less expected was that they would do so at the expense of their own members.

That's the message from a December 27-28 memo to local union presidents and board members from Michigan Education Association President Steven Cook, which recommends tactics that unions can use to dilute the impact of the right-to-work law. One bright idea is to renegotiate contracts now to lock teachers into paying union dues after the right-to-work law goes into effect in March. Another is to sue their own members who try to leave.

"Members who indicate they wish to resign membership in March, or whenever, will be told they can only do so in August," Mr. Cook writes in the three-page memo obtained by the West Michigan Policy Forum. "We will use any legal means at our disposal to collect the dues owed under signed membership forms from any members who withhold dues prior to terminating their membership in August for the following fiscal year." Got that, comrade?

Also watch for contract negotiations in which union reps sign up members for smaller pay raises and benefits in exchange for a long-term contract. "We've looked carefully at this and believe the impact of RTW [right to work] can be blunted through bargaining strategies," Mr. Cook writes.

The union filed its inevitable lawsuit against the law last week. But in his memo, Mr. Cook admits this is a long shot, as is a challenge based on technicalities like the law's carve-out for police and fire fighters. "Because of wording contained in the Act," Mr. Cook writes, "challenging the carve out might not strike down the Act but could merely put police and fire into the same RTW pit the rest of us are in."

Unions may have learned from last year's meltdown in Wisconsin over Governor Scott Walker's reforms. While Big Labor waged an unrelenting campaign to overturn the law in court and to recall Mr. Walker and Wisconsin legislators, there has been little serious discussion of a similar effort against Governor Rick Snyder in Michigan. "If the goal is to undo RTW, this is the least appealing of the options," Mr. Cook writes of potential recalls.

The pattern in new right-to-work states is that union membership plunges when it is voluntary. That's what happened in Wisconsin and Indiana, and it will probably happen in Michigan too.

Yet the most revealing news in the Cook memo is how little the union discusses assisting workers so more will voluntarily join unions. Instead the focus is how to continue coercing workers to keep paying dues. No wonder that the percentage of government workers who belong to unions fell last year. The Cook memo is damning proof that the main goal of union leaders is to enhance the power of union leaders, not of workers.



The 'Obamedia' Ignore Major Events, Fabricate Others

Establishment media outlets disregard major story after major story, meanwhile a phony story gets made up. A constant diet of disinformation and outright lies does not a free, informed America make.

Have we become "AmeriKa"? Viewers of B-grade 1980s TV miniseries fare might remember that as the title of a more than 14-hour-long dramatization of life in the Land of the Free under Soviet control.

Would Communist Russia's TASS news agency or Pravda newspaper have been any more subservient to the party in power, the chief executive who leads it, or the ideology at their foundation than America's major media outlets are being to Barack Obama, the Democratic Party and their socialist-style liberalism?

How else to explain a virtual media blackout on allegations that a just-re-elected U.S. senator repeatedly patronized underage prostitutes on foreign visits?

If New Jersey Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez were a conservative Republican, there would be a daily drumbeat of stories updating the latest revelations — the FBI confirming that four hookers admit attending a sex party with Menendez; the shamed senator reimbursing a big campaign donor for nearly $60,000; the thousands of dollars in contributions from that donor, Miami ophthalmologist Salomon Melgen, to Al Gore, New York Sen. Charles Schumer, Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz and other Democrats; plus a prostitute's e-mail stating that Menendez "likes the youngest and newest girls."

If Menendez were a Republican, the media hurricane would dwarf what drove Rep. Mark Foley from office — whose crime was sending smutty computer messages to underage congressional pages. As then, the media would insist the GOP was tainted.

It's only thanks to web-based sources like Breitbart, Daily Caller and Gateway Pundit that this story has stayed on the screen.

But how about the Obama economy sinking into negative territory for the first time since the last recession? As NewsBusters points out, the fourth-quarter GDP decline "was completely ignored by NBC Nightly News, carefully danced around on ABC World News and downplayed on CBS Evening News" on Wednesday.

The far-left MSNBC, meanwhile, is "reviewing" its tendentiously edited clip of testimony from a father of a Newtown victim, which falsely made it seem gun-rights advocates were disrupting his answers.

This has been quite a week. It started off with Steve Kroft outdoing his 1992 "60 Minutes" "Stand By Your Man" interview of Bill and Hillary Clinton, saving his candidacy from the Gennifer Flowers scandal, with a fawning session with Hillary and Obama last Sunday.

As Kroft said, Obama "knows that we're not going to play gotcha with him" — hard to do when you're busy playing footsie.

The sole cause for cheer in the media being so snugly in the pocket of Obama, his party, and the forces of ever-expanding government is its entertainment value.

Obama's AmeriKa may be losing its liberties, going broke, and getting socially radicalized by leftist elites. But at least we'll die laughing.



Taliban to Send Peace-Keeping Advisers to Chicago

As negotiations for the US withdrawal from Afghanistan have once again come to a halt, the Taliban Supreme Council has offered to level the playing field by sending a group of 400 battle-hardened Taliban peacekeepers to the U.S. city of Chicago, to help pacify one of the most violent regions in the Great Plains area of the North American continent.

With many years of combat experience in violent areas of their own country and having fought rebels, insurgents, villagers, urban militias, rival drug lords, as well as Soviet and American occupying forces on foot, horses, camels, donkeys, and trucks, they may be just what the Chicago city officials need to pacify their own population and bring the recently publicized murder rateunder control.

Details as to the logistical challenges have yet to be worked out, but already many US officials are expressing support for the idea.

"It's heart-warming to see the human interest the Taliban has taken in the plight of our inner-city minority residents," said Michael Dristun, a State Department analyst. "We're all excited about getting a fresh perspective on how to bring peace to rough, volatile neighborhoods."

Ramadullah, a concerned Taliban chieftain from the Swat Valley in Afghanistan, who follows the local tradition of only having one name, said that his people are "very troubled by the social problems in Chicago and simply want to help."

"We read the war stories coming out of Chicago and we ask ourselves, 'Why are they still fighting when their tribal chief has been elected President in 2007 and then also in 2012?'" Ramadullah said. "In our own country, we stop killing each other once we win elections. Well, mostly."

While no easy answers are expected, Ramadullah assured he knows how to keep the kill rate in check.

"When my advisors come to Chicago, all crime and murder will disappear once we impose Sharia Law," said Ramadullah, referencing the traditional form of Islamic jurisprudence.

"After the first dozen or so public executions at Wrigley Field, even the stupidest man will understand we mean business. Then we start getting some real change."



This! Ban That! Ban This and That!

 John Stossel

I like to bet on sports. Having a stake in the game, even if it's just five bucks, makes it more exciting. I also like playing poker. "Unacceptable!" say politicians in much of America. "Gambling sometimes leads to 'addiction,' destitute families!"

Well, it can.  So politicians ban it. It's why we no longer see a poker game in the back of bars. Half the states even ban poker between friends -- though they rarely enforce that.

After banning things, politicians' second favorite activity is granting special privileges to a few people who do those same things -- so big casinos flourish, and most states run their own lotteries. Running lotteries is one of the more horrible things our governments do. The poor buy the most tickets, and states offer them terrible odds. The government entered the lottery business promising to end the "criminal numbers racket." Now states do what the "criminals" did but offer much worse odds. Adding insult to their scam, politicians also spend our tax money promoting lotteries with disgusting commercials that trash hard work, implying that happiness comes from hedonism.  Hypocrisy.

Politicians also ban some medical innovations that might enhance athletes' performances. Teams buy high-tech equipment to get better results. Doctors prescribe all sorts of special medications if an athlete is injured. Competitors try dubious vitamins and "natural" food supplements.  But they better not use steroids.

The public supports this ban, but they rarely think it through. Why are steroids bad but eye surgery OK? (Tiger Woods did that to improve his vision.) Athletes will constantly try new ways to maximize their strength and endurance. Why is government even involved?

Don't get me wrong. If players promise not to use steroids but then use, that's wrong. Lance Armstrong is despicable not because he injected drugs like testosterone or did blood-doping, but because he proclaimed that he didn't, then did, then lied and bullied people, and threatened to sue them, to wreck their lives, for telling the truth. That's evil. Steroids themselves are just another form of eye surgery or better shoes.

If the NFL or Tour de France or the Big Ten wants a no-steroid rule, fine. But in America, if an athlete uses steroids, it's not just a violation of a private organization's rules, it's a federal issue. Congress has held nine -- that's right, nine -- hearings on the "problem" of steroids in sports. The pols know that yelling at baseball stars will get the pols face time on TV. There they are, bravely solving America's problems! But clumsy federal law doesn't even stop the cheating.

Politicians blithely ban this and that -- at the expense of their own constituents. Billions of dollars in banned Internet poker profits move offshore -- to countries with sensible rules.

A final stupid sports ban: Connecticut and New York will not allow MMA, mixed martial arts competitions. This booming sport is called "mixed" martial arts because it's more than just wrestling or judo or boxing, it's ... fighting. To win, one must excel at all martial arts. Yes, it's violent, but so are boxing and football. Mixed martial arts is actually safer than boxing, because the athletes don't spend 12 rounds getting hit on the head.

I can go to Madison Square Garden to watch boxers smash each other in the face. I can take little kids there to watch fake wrestling, which looks even more violent.

But Sen. John McCain called mixed martial arts "human cockfighting" and demanded it be banned. When he couldn't pass a national ban, he sent letters to governors of all 50 U.S. states asking them to ban MMA events in each state.

Fortunately, governors ignored him, and now in most of America, a new sport that brings in millions of dollars in business, opportunity and tax revenues blossoms. But not in New York or Connecticut. There, politicians wait for the lobbyists to kiss their rings. If they contribute enough to their campaigns, maybe they'll relent.

Gambling, steroid use and violent sports ought to be choices that consenting adults are free to make.  Politicians should butt out of sports.




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