[Continued from an earlier article by Nathan Barton]
The four lowest states are relatively conservative (if not necessarily in national politics) and all in the west – other than that, they have little in common. North Dakota is incredibly wealthy (relatively) with the Bakken etc. oil and gas boom, and very low unemployment. It and Wyoming are very small (in population) and have traditions of self-sufficiency and community help. Nebraska is relatively well-off, doing better than Wyoming economically but with two large urban areas. Colorado, frankly, surprises me: the state is a mess, with a bad (and probably again worsening economy), bad liberal government, and major urban areas and smaller urban areas with a huge underclass.
Although Montana and South Dakota are in the second tier (10-15% food stamps), they are very similar to ND, MT, WY, and NE. BUT they have a large AmerInd population, both on and off the Rez, and the economic straits of the tribes as well as their treaty rights mean that the great majority of them are on SNAP. Since 10-12% of SD’s population is enrolled members, this alone counts for the participation. (Colorado has tribes but such a small percentage that they are literally a drop in the bucket, even with urban AmerInd population.)
Also in that second tier are three states in which the participation has DOUBLED since 2008 – just five years. Idaho, Utah, and Nevada have many problems: Nevada in particular has been very hard hit by the Crash of 2009 – this depression in all but name. Its tourism/gaming industry was attacked by both its unions, its federal legislators, and the White House: it is actually a surprise to see it isn’t higher. Utah and Idaho have shifted population, with far more non-LDS (and thus not using the excellent Bishop’s system available to LDS in dire straits). They have also been hit by changes in government programs and regulations: timber, mining, and other fundamental industries have been in bad shape.
Now to the other end:
Why on earth is there a 20-25% rate in Oregon of all places? Oregon is socialist (as well as anti-military) but not much more than Michigan or Wisconsin. It wasn’t the Crash that drove this up by a huge amount of participants. Perhaps Oregonians are more susceptible to government advertising (propaganda) about food stamps and other programs. Perhaps the attacks by government on the timber industry and many other industries has dragged it down. Oregon is NOT business friendly, I’m told, so maybe small businesses have been hurt more.
It is easier to understand why New Mexico is so bad off: large AmerInd population (remember treaty rights and such) – especially the Navajo and various Pueblo, lots of immigrants, especially illegal ones, in New Mexico, perhaps because the culture is more similar to Latin America than any other state. It has been damaged by liberal administrations and legislatures and urban governments (Albuquerque and Santa Fe in particular), and hit by government control and by government reductions in military and research matters. But still, like Oregon, there must be other reasons.
Tennessee, Mississippi, and Louisiana may be so high because they are part of the Old South and the Black Belt; as well as having entrenched Democratic municipal governments and many endemic economic problems. (Louisiana’s condition is obviously Bush’s fault since he caused Katrina and all but destroyed New Orleans.) The last one in this fourth, bottom tier is Rhode Island, with strong liberal control at all levels, an economy that hasn’t recovered from not being bombed during WW1 and WW2, and massive immigration. It has doubled in five years, again perhaps because with almost no industry left, even the parasites have started moving away.
I am surprised to find DC in this tier (I don’t count it because it isn’t a state – except for a state of mental distress), but maybe if you take away all the government parasites with incomes of over $50,000 a year (that is, those who supposedly WORK for government, not those who are officially on welfare), it would be way over 25% on food stamps. Of course, a GS-1 (there are, apparently, a few of those left) gets more than $20/hour, but only about $22K a year: possible to be eligible for food stamps in a one-earner family. But face it, DC has an entitlement mentality and has since the War between the States: gimme gimme from the guy squatting at 1600 PA right now to the most derelict bum sleeping on a street grate.
Florida’s doubling in five years can probably be attributed to the massive retired population, massive immigration (internal and external), and cuts in government – as well as the real estate crash. Even so, it is still better off than the worst five states and DC. Notice that except for Rhode Island, NONE of the 20-25% states doubled: which must mean that there are so many already on the public teat that is is hard to get that much of an increase.
There are 47 million of us on the OFFICIAL, federal dole. That is basically one in six of us; 16%. Of course, the numbers vary significantly from place to place, indeed in the measure of a few blocks. And with the Crash, even from house to house. The fact that there are such differences on a state-by-state level is an indication that it is NOT simply economic conditions or social status. There MUST be other factors. But I don’t have the data to figure out what they are.
So, you say to me, “Nathan, all this description is no doubt fascinating, but it doesn’t mean that food stamps are evil. So why do you call them that?” Obviously, people need them or think they need them. That chart shows that food stamps don’t even pay enough for an average man to eat: about fifty bucks short on a monthly basis.
Here is why: See part 3 tomorrow.