The economic illiteracy that consistently comes out of the White House is both mesmerizing and infuriating. Their Thanksgiving message to the public this year was no different.
“When you sit down to Thanksgiving this year, remember this,” they encourage. Food stamps are “boosting the economy right now.”
This is asinine. Government assistance does not ”boost the economy.” The government does not generate income through productive means, like you and I do. All of the money it does have was ultimately taken from someone else — someone else who could have actually “boosted the economy” by creating value through voluntary, mutually-beneficial exchanges.
SNAP’s effect extends beyond the food on a family’s table — to the grocery stores, truck drivers, warehouses, processing plants, and farmers that helped get it there.
This campaign by the White House is a textbook example of the broken window fallacy.
For those who might be unfamiliar with the concept: Let’s say you are sitting in your home, reading CapitalismInstitute.org, and all of a sudden a rock smashes through your window. Now, you have to go buy a new window. Just great. Now you have to put off buying that new outfit, set of tools, a new toy for your kid, or those groceries for your family.
Those who fall victim to the broken window fallacy would say you were “boosting the economy” because you are paying the window man (or woman!) for a new window, who in turn can use that money to buy something else, and so on. What they fail to realize is that we start off at a loss since the money was taken and not put to better, more productive use; in fact, it’s destructive.
The same concept applies here. Food stamps might put food on people’s tables, but the fact the taxes to fund such programs were already taken from someone else means that money was not used inefficiently and not in a manner that “boosts the economy.”
In short: The market is productive; the government is destructive.
Of course, the opposition confuses advocacy for free market solutions to poverty with some weird, childish hatred of poor people. This can’t be further from the truth. When Eric Cantor (R-VA) proposed legislation that would cut $4 billion a year from the SNAP program, Harry Reid (D-NV) said:
“The Senate will never pass such hateful, punitive legislation.”
Ouch. I believe the real “hateful” solution here is the government developing an environment where Americans are forced to be dependent on it, but maybe that’s just me.
Speaking of dependency, the Obama Administration has drastically expanded it. CNS News reports:
In fiscal 2013, a record 47,666,124 people were getting SNAP benefits, compared with 28,409,880 in fiscal 2008, which ended on Sept. 30, 2008–and was the last full fiscal year before Obama took office in January 2009. That is an increase of 19,256,244–or 67.7 percent–in five years.
Shouldn’t the goal be to move towards productivity and independence rather than actively strangling it?
If you agree the White House’s claim that food stamps boost the economy is false, help us call them out by “recommending” this article on Facebook.