You get six carrots, a bag of celery and a potato because we said so

For a party that has always said that they didn’t want the
government sticking its nose into people’s lives, Republicans in this state
have no problem sticking their noses in people’s refrigerators

But only if those people are on the government teat.

Rep. Dean Kaufert of Neenah has proposed a bill that would
create a “tiered buying” system for food. In his bill, which passed out of
committee earlier this week, only one-third of the money could be spent on what
he deems to be “junk food.” The rest of the money should be spent on good,
wholesome food like milk and bread.

Kaufert’s rationale behind the bill is as follows:

Kaufert told members of the State Affairs Committee he often
heard complaints that food stamp users were buying large volumes of chips and
soda. He said he simply wants people to use their benefits to eat healthier.

“I don’t want to ban Nachos or Doritos from anyone’s
grandson because my grandson eats it,” Kaufert said. “But the fact is,
reasonable limitation is not asking for too much.”

In other words, “I didn’t bother to check with anyone at the
WIC office, any state agency that monitors this, any health officials who
assess the health quality of these allegedly unhealthy foods or anything else.
However, I have ‘often heard complaints,’ which means at least one and it
probably was someone was also anecdotally pissing and moaning about this person
owning a cell phone while being on WIC as well.”

Kaufert’s argumentis the same argument we’ve been having
for years
. We had the whole “welfare queen” argument for years, in which people
were appalled athow these damned poor people were using their government
assistance to buy extravagant foods like steak and lobster.
Now, we’re having
the same outrage at them buying cheap shit.

The reason? You’re poor and I’m not. I’m paying for your
fucking Doritos so I get some sort of say.

Notice that Kaufert made some lame attempt to throw himself
into the whole processed foods argument by doing the, “Hey, I have a grandkid.
He likes Doritos. We’re on the same page.” However, Kaufert didn’t say, “What I
really need is a government agency making sure that he’s not subsisting on

The “reasonable limitations” are only there because a) we’re fucking
paying for your Doritos and b) there’s an underlying assumption that if you’re
poor enough to be on food stamps you’re too stupid to buy anything but Doritos.
Kaufert, being gainfully employed by the state and able to wear a suit and tie to
work, obviously doesn’t need oversight when it comes to the health of his
children and grandchildren. (Hey, wait! My tax dollars are paying for you DEAN! I should get some say in what you eat!)

As for you poor bastards, you’re lucky he’s not
assigning a special-needs aide to walk you to the store as well so you don’t
hurt yourself on the way.

Before he gets all happy about this whole“I’m just like
Michelle Obama because I want you to eat better,”
Kaufert also might want to
take a look at the food industry he’s touting. Pulitzer-prize winner Michael
Moss took a peek at what really makes it on to our dinner table in his book
“Salt, Sugar, Fat” and if Kaufert had read it, he’d know every “natural” food
is not created equal:

“Take milk, for instance. Through the 1960s, sales of milk
plunged as it bore the brunt of public concerns about fat, both in terms of its
calories and its links to heart disease. At the same time, the dairy industry
figured out a way to soften this blow to their business by putting the phrases
“low-fat” and “2 percent” on milk… The popularity of this defatted milk grew so
fast that it now outsells all other types of milk, including skim, which has no
fat at all. But there is a marketing scheme at work in this: The “2 percent”
labeling may lead you to believe that 98 percent of the fat is removed, but in truth,
the fat content of whole milk is only a tad higher at 3 percent.”

In looking at bread, Moss wrote that it contains not-so-good levels of salt, sugar and fat in
order to improve “mouthfeel” and taste. In various experiments, Moss was
allowed to taste bread that lacked one or more of these key elements. At best,
he reported that the bread tasted like tin and felt like it rotted away in his
mouth. Meat? Don’t even get me started on the issues pertaining to “pink slime”
and Moss’ look at the way in which meat will kill you.

So much for those great “food staples of healthy eating.”

Look, I understand that we should all eat better. I’m just
as bad at this as anyone else. The difference is that the state trusts me to
make my own stupid decisions as to how much Diet Coke I mainline or when I can
or can’t buy a piece of veal. If the only reason I’m able to make these choices
is because I’m lucky enough to not have to take government assistance, that
says a lot as to how we view our fellow citizens.

13 thoughts on “You get six carrots, a bag of celery and a potato because we said so

  1. Huh. So not all states already have this system? NM does. People here receiving food stamps (cards now) are restricted as to what they can buy with their benefits.
    But I really do like requiring all representatives paid by us taxpayers having to meet the same requirements. Sweet.

  2. There are some restrictions, the basic cigarettes and alcohol. Also the WIC program really pushes for using vouchers at the Farmer’s Market which is great on so many levels.
    However I have witnessed, first hand and multiple times, how easy it is to misuse these debit cards. There’s always a way around it, and if someone wants to eat/drink crap and ignore their kids nutritional needs they will find a way to do it.
    It seems like a big waste of time to me.

  3. Actually, WIC does not pay for potatoes, so evidently they’re on Kaufert’s junk food list, too. I think bagged carrots might also be on the list (though un-bagged carrots are OK). So it’s really just a stalk of celery.

  4. Sorry. I make bread every week. It has salt but no fat or sugar. That’s not because I care about sugar and fat but because your basic French or Italian-style bread contains neither. So he “tastes like tin” is bull. This makes me suspicious of his other “findings.” Has he ever eaten anything but Wonder bread? Even goodish supermarket bread like Oroweat isn’t awash in sugar and fat.

  5. Really? No potatoes?
    The only list of items that aren’t allowable are things I found via this, which talks about soap, booze and cooked food:
    I’m not doubting that this could be the case, but if it is true, I’m wondering why the hell the state just doesn’t issue a set of foods to people instead of making them play the grocery equivalent of “Minesweeper” in order to eat.

  6. Goose- He’s talking about the stuff at the store that’s processed that has to have a ridiculous shelf-life, meet eye-candy specs and so forth. He went to the places that make this stuff where they made some samples for him where they simply removed or diminished the overall amount of fat, sugar or salt (subbing in something else where possible). In short, the stuff my wife makes (that fits your model) is awesome and has none of the stuff that Moss mentioned (OK, maybe a little salt), but the longer shelf-life stuff is different.
    Honestly, he’s not a quack. If you get a chance, give the book a read. It’s quite good.

  7. Doc —
    The list of foods allowed by WIC is here: Potatoes are OK under current rules,but Kaufert’s bill would change that, by classifying foods that are not on the WIC list –plus beef, pork and chicken — as “junk food.”
    Restricting purchases of potatoes — along with potatoes, pasta, sharp cheddar, swiss cheese, ketchup and brown eggs — might be an unintended consequence of the bill, but who knows?

  8. OK, and they propose enforcing this how? More laws (“junk food is herein and hereby defined as…”)…human monitors at the checkout line?
    I just wish our esteemed free press would occasionally point out that so-called “small government” types…aren’t.

  9. Surely the key to ending poverty is just making people FEEL more poor! I can’t tell you how many times I hear from older relatives that people in the old days were ashamed to be poor, but now nobody is. Um, the hell do you know what goes on in their heads? Just because they’re out shopping in a store doesn’t mean they’re not ashamed. What should the be doing, stirring a can of beans over an underpass cookfire picturesquely so as to, what, satisfy every smug passerby?
    And being ashamed would do exactly dick to get them out of poverty anyway. You know what gets people out of poverty? Fucking jobs and education. You want fewer obnoxious poor people around buying Doritos with their food stamps? Invest in helping them before they get to that point, because kicking them once they’re there is goddamn redundant.
    The entire food stamp police thing is insane. I’d be happier giving people X amount of money, period, to spend on whatever each day/week/month, and let them make their own decisions. Yes, some of them will make crappy ones, but the fuck am I not accomplishing while I’m clucking over that in the checkout aisle? Some of these busybody people need something to do.

  10. MichaelF —
    These days, “food stamps” are actually a debit card, which the buyer usually swipes at the cash register. You could, theoretically, set up the store’s computer to send a DHS computer a record of each food-stamp purchase, and DHS could, theoretically, keep a running total of the amount spent each month on approved and non-approved foods. And they could, theoretically, cut off payments for soda, potatoes and paste if the unapproved purchases exceeded a limit.
    Of course, to do this, you’d have to hire IT developers to set up the system (or, more likely, get contractors at $200/hour), and you’d have to interface with point-of-sale systems at thousands of businesses across the state. As an IT person myself, I get a queasy feeling just thinking about all this.
    And then, if the customer goes over her limit, a minimum-wage schmuck at the cash register would have to tell her she has been cut off — that’s likely to go really well. I just hope I’m not the next person in line when that happens.

  11. Again, my answer to this is always
    Don’t I pay your salary? With my tax money? So can I now tell you how you’re allowed to spend it? What you’re allowed to eat? Because I’d sure like to do that.

  12. The thing is, this dope’s list of ‘junk food’ includes cheese. In Wisconsin. America’s Dairyland. To whit: “…sharp cheddar cheese, Swiss cheese, shredded cheese or reduced sodium cheeses.”
    I have a feeling he didn’t run his brainstorm past the state’s (largely Republican) dairy farmers and cheese manufacturers, nor the American Dairy Association.
    This could be pretty entertaining before it’s all over…

  13. They forget who they’re working for when they start the post-vote-count victory dance, and go downhill from there.
    Sequester *their* damn salaries.

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