February 2, 2015

It's budget time in Washington, DC, so Fox News is rolling out their "Shame the Poors" series.

This episode features Tucker Carlson, Star Parker, and radio talk show host Richard Fowler. Today's topic is food stamps. Evidently in the eyes of Tucker Carlson & Co, the poors shouldn't have food, especially if they're obese and hungry, because how can that be, am I right?

These tropes are the same ones we hear over and over again from the right wing. Obesity is inconsistent with food insecurity, they say. Star Parker was particularly obnoxious about this point, suggesting that because SNAP benefits are now delivered in the form of a debit card instead of actual stamps, one mom can just feed her kids at McDonalds while another might spend that money on veggies.

Parker clearly hasn't taken the SNAP challenge, or she would understand how absurd that argument is.

Worse yet, Parker was a one-trick pony, blaming single moms for the problem instead of actually having a look at why it might be that so many people are on food stamps. In fact, she snorted and asked Richard Fowler if he was crazy when he suggested raising the minimum wage.

Of the three, Fowler at least sounded sane. He made the arguments you and I might make, like the idea that raising the minimum wage would lift some people out of poverty, that single mothers would have an easier time of things if they were earning a living wage at that fast food place down the street. Tucker and Star didn't exactly howl with laughter, but the condescension was oozing all over the screen.

Every right wing myth about food assistance and food insecurity was on parade here, because all the poors need is to be slapped around a little bit and they'll get in line.

However, one of them really hit home. Tucker's lie about how SNAP for college students and undocumented workers is somehow just a way for the President to market state-assisted dependency was so out in left field it cannot go unanswered.

College students have so many expenses connected with college that eating falls down to about third on the priority list. There are more homeless students, and the number of students who experience food insecurity is mind-boggling. University food pantries are more and more common on college campuses.

On my daughter's campus, students struggle with homelessness and hunger on a daily basis. They have a program there where students may donate dorm meals to hungry students, which helps some but hardly solves the problem.

MSNBC's in-depth report on growing food insecurity on college campuses highlights the choices students must make:

It’s difficult to track just how many college students are in dire need, but new data from the country’s largest emergency food service network suggests that the number is at least in the millions. Feeding America’s 2014 Hunger in America report estimates that roughly 10% of its 46.5 million adult clients are currently students, including about two million people who are attending school full-time. Nearly one-third of those surveyed—30.5%—report that they’ve had to choose between paying for food and covering educational expenses at some point in the last year.

Feeding America, a network of some 46,000 emergency food service agencies in the United States, releases its Hunger in America report once every four years. This latest iteration of the report, which is based on a survey of more than 60,000 Feeding America clients, is the first to include data about college students in need of emergency food services. The new research suggests that America’s chronic hunger emergency has not spared institutes of higher learning.

But pay the facts no mind, my dears, because Star Parker is going to insist to all who listen that if those slutty single moms would just put a padlock on their panties, hunger problems would go away. Or they could marry a man and that will fix everything!

All of them look pretty well-fed. Perhaps they should try the SNAP challenge themselves and report back on how they enjoyed all that fast food the big government check paid for.

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