Sunday, January 19, 2020

A Good Story about a Bad Story

The Pioneer Press had a really good article today explaining how Mafia Mulligan's planned changes to food stamp (SNAP) eligibility will affect people in Minnesota. His minions say they want to "restore the dignity of work," of course, but it's bullshit. The number of people receiving this benefit is already down 24 percent from its peak in 2014, and the amount of money spent (in current, constant dollars) has declined almost 38 percent, because the amount per person has decreased from $144 per person per month to just $109.

$109 worth of groceries in a month is considered too much. 

There are three types of changes coming from Mulligan's Department of Unhealth and Inhuman Services:

  • Requiring more thorough checks to make sure recipients' assets are not greater than a princely $3,000. 
  • Limiting childless adults without physical or mental disability to just three months unless they are working, volunteering, or training for a job. There had been a waiver for counties with high unemployment rates, but it's being changed so Minnesota's number of counties will decrease from "more than two dozen to four."
  • The deduction for utility costs will no longer give cold-climate states a higher allowance, meaning our recipients' incomes will suddenly be higher, and therefore their SNAP amounts will be lower. I read in an another article that this will mean a decrease of about $10 a month on average (out of that $109 average). So about 10 percent of an already low amount.
The PiPress story reminds us of the 2018 legislative committee appearance by a "paper millionaire" with no monthly income who had been collecting SNAP benefits just to prove the system is broken. Oh no, this jerk got $6,000 over two years from the taxpayers of Minnesota! Let's wreck the whole system to make sure no other assholes like him can take advantage!

The story also provides a rebuttal (from the state's acting commissioner for children and family services) that "there are very few people...who are gaming the system to prove a point" and that "checking the assets of food stamp recipients will likely cost much more than it ends up saving." Not to mention the fact (which literally is not mentioned in the story) that there are thousands or tens of thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands, of people who would be eligible who never even apply.

Meanwhile, our state's food shelves, which pick up the slack left when SNAP is contracted, are already seeing more visits than ever, according to the head of Second Harvest Heartland. And they face all the pressures of nonprofit organizations to raise money and innovate in the fashion-conscious world of foundations and big donors. It's a sick system we have.

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