Breckenbridging the gap

Byline: | Category: Economy, Taxes & Spending | Posted at: Monday, 31 March 2008

UPDATE:  The photo is a fake

The Independent of London proclaims that the United States is in a depression.  As evidence it offers two items. 

The first is this picture of “disadvantaged Americans” queuing for aid in New York.


Compare that picture with this one of a real Depression. 


Notice the differences?  In the first picture I see what appears to be an Ipod or a cellphone in the possession of at least two people in line.  I don’t seen any of those in the second.  Also notice that in the second picture every single man in the queue is dressed like he’s actually applying for a job instead of having just rolled out of bed.

The second item that the Independent offers as proof of a new “depression” is that food stamp payments are up by a whopping 5.6% over last year.  However the paper dismisses this item:

The increase – from 26.5 [food stamp recipients] million in 2007 – is due partly to recent efforts to increase public awareness of the programme and also a switch from paper coupons to electronic debit cards.

I was reminded by this article that I encountered a food stamp recipient at a grocery store last week.  The visiting lady attempting to pay for her groceries had the misfortune of checking out with a clerk who didn’t know what to do with the new food stamp debit card.  He had to call a manager for help.  That’s no surprise, I suppose, since the cards are a new part of the food stamp program.  What was surprising was that I was at a grocery store in Breckenridge!  If you’re vacationing in Breckenridge you probably don’t need food stamps.

Also embedded within the Independent’s grossly exaggerated expose of “poverty” in America was this gem:

For Hubert Liepnieks, the card is a lifeline he could never afford to lose. Just out of prison, he sleeps in overnight shelters in Manhattan and uses the card at a Morgan Williams supermarket on East 23rd Street. Yesterday, he and his fiancée, Christine Schultz, who is in a wheelchair, shared one banana and a cup of coffee bought with the 82 cents left on it.

Sad.  Truly sad.  But wait:

“They should be refilling it in the next three or four days,” Liepnieks says. At times, he admits, he and friends bargain with owners of the smaller grocery shops to trade the value of their cards for cash, although it is illegal. “It can be done. I get $7 back on $10.”

Any guesses as to what Hubert was buying with his 70 cents of every taxpayer dollar he receives–supposedly for food?  Sadly, I’d be less disgusted if he was using the money to buy lift tickets instead of what he probably spent it on.

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5 Responses to “Breckenbridging the gap”

  1. Lee Says:

    Even if in a recession, this doesn’t even come close to what was faced in the ’70s, let alone the ’30s. The only reason this argument can be attempted is because those who actaully lived during a depression are now octogenarians if not deceased.

    I have a feeling that these “Depression” articles, just like those that discussed the supposed missing armaments at Al Qaqaa, will immediately cease after the first Tuesday of the first full week of November 2008.

    Call it a hunch.

  2. jms Says:

    There was a whole story a while ago about how various agencies are trying very hard to get more people enrolled in the food stamp programs. Do a google search on “Amish food stamps.”

    Basically, there has been a big push to get more people on food stamps, even people who don’t want to accept them. Plus, the government has switched from embarassing little paper stamps to a debit card system, so it’s not surprising that this coordinated effort to increase food stamp dependency is paying dividends.

    These factors certainly have to be factored into any evaluation of whether increased food stamp enrollment is a true indicator of increased poverty.

  3. rockdalian Says:

    Am I this out of touch, but is there really one out of every eleven on stamps?
    That seems high.

  4. Eric Says:

    I have a feeling that these “Depression” articles, just like those that discussed the supposed missing armaments at Al Qaqaa, will immediately cease after the first Tuesday of the first full week of November 2008.

    Actually, it’ll be more like early February, so that there can be some justification for giving Obama all of the credit. Should McCain win, look for positive stories on the economy no earlier than January of 2013.

  5. » The photo was a fake Says:

    [...] you remember the cover photo on the (London) Independent [...]