Feeding the Poor Better

cropped-bob-shapiro.jpg   By Bob Shapiro

“If people don’t have enough food, you need to make more food.”

I’ve forgotten where I heard that saying many years ago (maybe it was in The Incredible Bread Machine movie). It is so simple, yet it is indisputable.

In our country, almost 50 million Americans are on Food Stamps. The assumption is that there isn’t enough food for them at prices that they

can afford. We pay farmers to not grow food, or prohibit growing above a specific limit (peanuts). Our government has regulations on water, fertilizer, and pesticides.

At the same time, if a farmer is able to navigate the maze of regulations successfully, and makes a profit, then we discourage him further by taxing his profit and limiting his ability to pass it on to his kids when he dies. We discourage those who process and package the food , who transport, wholesale, and retail the food with regulations and taxes on all these steps in the process of feeding all Americans, including the poor who are on Food Stamps.

Food Groups

Don’t forget that there are taxes and regulations on all the businesses which employ the working poor, whose salaries are reduced as a result. Much of the tax money goes to support a veritable army of government workers who receive salaries which are handsomely above their private, productive sector counterparts.

I have shown previously that all businesses have three natural constituencies – owners, employees, and customers – and that when government inserts itself to become a fourth constituency, the original three must suffer. Taxes and regulation on all the steps of putting food onto the tables of the 50 million Americans who need Food Stamps only makes the situation worse.

Action Item: Return the food industry to its three natural constituencies.

  • Remove all taxation and subsidies on the production, processing, distribution, transportation, and marketing of food
  • Replace all the regulations on the production, processing, distribution, transportation, and marketing of food, with required standards which may be used in a court of law
  • Freeze new enrollment into the Food Stamp programs, and continue all currently enrolled for 1 year
  • Food Stamp recipients would receive a benefit which is reduced by 2% each week, during the 1 year continuation period

The reduced taxation, subsidies, and regulation would increase the profits of the food industry, which will encourage new entrants and the competition they will provide, and will result in significantly reduced cost for consumers, higher wages for employees, and ROI for owners, while increasing the supply. Greater supply at lower cost will benefit all Americans, but especially the poor.

The benefits of the tax, subsidy, and regulation rollback would be enough for most of the 50 million people on Food Stamps, but some still might need some help. With lower food costs, the balance of Americans would be in a better position to do what they do best – give charity.

Food banks, soup kitchens, and other private sector programs to feed the poor already are in existence. These and other organizations would provide the safety net for those who still need help.

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