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Posted by on Aug 3, 2011 in In The News, Opinion, TG Roundup, USA

Welfare State: A Closer Look at the Surge in Food Stamp Use

As of May 2011, 45 million Americans, or 15% of the population are on food stamps. In 2007 the number is a mere 26 million. The great recession added nearly 20 million people (or as the well healed right-wing talk show bigots call them, “parasites”) into this social safety net.

ZedroHedge noted a peculiarity in these numbers. Alabama!

But wait, there’s more. Digging into the numbers reveals something pecuiliar: virtually the entire surge in monthly SNAP participation is due to one state alone: Alabama, which saw those living on foodstamps jump from 868K to 1.762MM. That’s 36% of Alabama’s population. Is this merely a grand rehearsal for the Jefferson County bankruptcy? Did the state see a mass surge in foodstamp use as hundreds of thousands are trying to game the system in advance of what will be an apic Chapter 9? And if yes, what does that mean for all the other states which will promptly follow in the footsteps of Jefferson County, and for US foodstamp participation?

The bankruptcy of Jefferson County, AL – brought to you by your friendly investment banker, JP Morgan. Aha, JP Morgan! The king of derivatives! Yesterday (Aug 2, 2011), Central Falls, RI filed for Chapter 9 bankruptcy. (Via NY Times)

This is not simply a Central Falls issue — this is a statewide issue and even a national issue,” said Rhode Island’s governor, Lincoln D. Chafee, an independent, who as a senator was the only Republican to vote against the invasion of Iraq. “We have to match our revenue to our expenditures.”

Central Falls got into trouble, above all, by promising its police and firefighters generous retirement benefits without setting aside enough money to pay for them. The benefits were often determined by outside arbitrators, who were intent on resolving disputes rather than assessing whether towns could afford their promises. Weak accounting rules helped mask the scale of the problem for years.

Now Rhode Island’s smallest city has the same problem as Washington — the biggest overruns are in the programs hardest to cut, pensions and retiree health care.

After asking its retired police officers and firefighters for weeks to accept reduced benefits, Central Falls intends to impose its will in bankruptcy court. The retirees will get smaller pension checks, so small in some cases that the city is creating “circuit breakers” to make sure no one falls below $10,000 a year. Retirees will also have to pay a portion of their health care premiums.

Firefighters, cops and teachers will get smaller pension checks. Some of them will probably end up on the right-wing nut-bag list of “parasites” by getting on board with the food stamps program.

On the other hand, IBs and banks with shady and unethical practices continue to give out bonuses to the self proclaimed ‘creme de la creme’ for the fear of losing them to the competition. Speaking of IBs, can you guess who runs the food stamps program for the US Government? If you guessed JP Morgan, you would be correct.

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We all know the bonus culture on Wall Street where long-term risk on the bets is completely ignored in favor of rewarding short-term gains. I wonder if JPM also gives out hefty bonuses to the executives who run the food stamp program based on the increased usage of food stamps. Take the example of Jefferson County, AL. JPM sold exotic derivatives on the county’s sewer system, which led the county to near certain bankruptcy and its people to food stamps.

Ah, JPM! What a great system we have. You get to screw people at both ends and light a cigar. And to those well healed snobs who continue to rile against the welfare state by merely pointing at food stamp use, I would say this: Do not blame those who fell on hard times due to irresponsible acts of a few (politicians, Fed officials, IBs, Wall Street.) Blame the corruption in the system as a whole. After all, the fat cats who got fat by sucking the life blood of retirement and pension funds have one thing to thank for: Food Stamps Program. For, the only thing that is coming between them and angry mobs is the Food Stamps Program. When the mob turns hungry and angry, this is what cometh your way: pitchforks and torches.