As someone who, for a living, congratulates people on their commitment to serve their country then tells them how to sign up for public assistance, I am not surprised by this NY Times article saying that now 1 in 8 Americans now use Food Stamps. Though unsurprised, I can though appreciate the cynical responses:

I have an idea. Let’s expect people to get food insurance if they want to eat in times of need, instead of giving them food stamps. They can buy food insurance from private, for-profit companies. Those companies can deny benefits for misstatements on their food insurance applications, regardless of how minor the misstatement, whether it was done with fraudulent intent, or how long ago the application was taken. We’ll rely on the food insurance companies’ discretion as to what foods they cover at what percentage rate of prevailing market prices, which is part of the insurance coverage, but which is never actually disclosed to the people buying food insurance, even though it amounts to a substantial portion of the insurance contract and significantly affects the utility of the insurance to the purchaser. The whole thing will be implemented through a big bureaucratic claims process, with some food insurers refusing to provide benefits unless you get your food at the company store. And, get this, any time the food insurance company refuses to cover someone’s food, that person’s only effective recourse is to take the insurance company to court, a process that takes months or years and does not in any way ensure useful contractual enforcement to someone who needs to eat RIGHT NOW.

Actually this problem could be solved by having Food Savings Accounts (FSA). If poor people would just put money into an FSA (pre-tax!) then they could build up an account balance that would carry them through those times when they get hungry and need some food.

Food stamps just promote the consumption of food. If you subsidize something, you get more of it. We should be discouraging that kind of behavior.