Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Food Stamp Hysteria: Whoops, They All Forgot to Control for Record U.S. Population of 306m in 2009

CBS Evening News: More Americans Turning To Food Stamps: Amid Economic Slowdown, Record 28 Million In U.S. Expected To Use Program In Coming Year

NY Times: As Jobs Vanish and Prices Rise, Food Stamp Use Nears Record
The Independent: USA 2008, The Great Depression. Food stamps are the symbol of poverty in the US. Dismal projections by the CBO suggest that by fiscal year 2008, 28 million people in the US will be using government food stamps to buy essential groceries, the highest level since the food assistance program was introduced in the 1960s - and a sure sign the world's richest country faces economic crisis.

Comment: There's one big, fundamental problem for these "food stamp hysteria" stories about record food stamp use of 28 million by 2009 (fiscal year 2008): The U.S. population will be at a record level of 306.272 million in 2009, and food stamp use by 28 million Americans will be about 9.14% of the population, just slightly higher than the 2005-2007 average of 8.78% (see chart above using data from USDA and the Census Bureau). And the 9.14% projected food stamp usage as a percent of population in 2008-2009, will be lower than food stamp usage in 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983; and 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995 and 1996.

Bottom Line: We're nowhere near a record for food stamp use, and we're nowhere close to the Great Depression!

(Inspired by this post on Captain Capitalism)


At 4/01/2008 3:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is also burried within the particularly reactionary Independent article:

"The increase – from 26.5 million in 2007 – is due partly to recent efforts to increase public awareness of the programme and also a switch from paper coupons to electronic debit cards."

Also mentioned near the end are tidbits about rising food prices...with no mention whatsoever of the domestic government policies and worldwide demand that have lead to that.

At 4/01/2008 5:46 PM, Blogger RPN1 said...

James Taranto, in the April 1 "Best of the Web" column in the WSJ, states that, "the Farm Bill of 2002 substantially expanded the food-stamp program. As the U.S. Department of Agriculture Web site notes, that legislation made legal immigrants eligible for food stamps, increased benefits for larger households, and expanded food-stamp eligibility for people leaving the TANF (welfare) rolls."

Another reason to take the article in the Independent with a grain of salt.

At 4/01/2008 10:55 PM, Blogger juandos said...

Why don't we just dump the food stamp program?

There's really no reason to have more taxes extorted from the productive so politicos can pander to the parasitic...

At 4/02/2008 8:51 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


You forget to control for the fact that these "news organizations" aren't interested in objectively reporting news. Instead they are in the business of causing panic and hysteria.

At 4/02/2008 11:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Re: romell

For all the man's many faults, it is moments like these when I am perfectly comfortable with voting for McCain over Clinton or Obama this fall:

Senator Hillary Clinton voted for the Farm Bill of 2002 (HR 2646), while Senator John McCain voted against it.

Of course, Senator Barack Obama was still a mere state senator at the time, and could not have voted for or against it, but I think it's safe to say that given his positions he would have.

At 2/10/2009 10:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Genius, food stamp use now over 32 million and climbing, over 10% of the population.


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