the food stamp people think thrifty eating is $150 per person per month. actually $200 for the first person, then it scales down to 150 for additional people as family size increases.
a family of 4's thrifty food budget is $668/month. jeez that's so much to be giving out as the minimum standard of living for people who supposedly can't feed themselves.
however, to get food stamps, you have to have $2000 or less in your bank account and they'll count most other assets you have. so basically they will give you a ton of money every month, but only if you make sure to never save any money and become financially stable. you have to live paycheck or paycheck or they won't help you. why are they encouraging poor families to live paycheck to paycheck!?
you also have to have a low income, and they give you less money depending on your income. for example, a family of 4 with $800 rent making $2000/month will be given $256/month rather than the full 668. they are deemed able to pay the difference.
if they take their income after rent, and save/invest half of it each month ($600), then after 3.3 months they'll be disqualified from foodstamps for being too frugal and trying to improve their financial situation. if they save/invest a more modest 1/6 then they'll be getting kicked off in 10 months.
the food stamp program is proud to have 35 million people whose lives it touches. IMO they should be proud when they figure out how to get that figure under one million who need them.
if we assume 2k income, 800 rent, family of 4 is the avg case, then they spend 768 per person on average per year. so the foodstamp program costs tax payers:
$26,880,000,000 per year
Yeah, that's 27 billion a year. And that's before any overhead. It's a government program, so maybe they need 10% overhead costs to run it. That gets it to around 29.5 billion.
Some proportion of the people on food stamps are not unfortunate or unlucky, but just never chose to learn more lucrative job skills which they could have learned if they'd wanted to enough. I wonder what that proportion is. Subsidizing their bad choices is bad. What would make more sense for people like that is subsidizing a job training program if they want to attend one. Or just ignore them and let in a bunch of Mexican immigrants who have work ethics.
Of course, we can't let in too many Mexican immigrants because it'd cost us billions of dollars per year in food stamps because many of them would qualify even though they had become richer and more well fed than they were in Mexico. And it'd cost billions of dollars in other wellfare programs. That's right, wellfare makes us reduce immigration quotas harming Mexicans. Wellfare has a nationalist prejudice. (Well of course it does. It consists of giving money to people if and only if they are Americans. I don't think poor Americans are more worthy of wellfare than poor Mexicans. And in fact I'm quite confident there are people in the world who could be helped a lot more, for a lot less money, than an American family of 4 making 24,000/year).
Also food stamps are inefficient. You should give people real money, not restricted money. They will then spend the money on whatever they need most. Anytime they would have spent the money on something other than food, if allowed, they deemed that to be more important. By not allowing that, the food stamp program is forcing them to make spending decisions they consider inefficient. Taking a bunch of poor people (on average, not so good at managing money) and then giving them money but only to spend in ways they consider inefficient, is a bit insane. That or it's authoritarian: the Government thinks they know the details of these people's lives well enough to second guess their spending decisions. But that's a bit insane too: is someone who doesn't want to spend more money on food really going hungry or in need of more food? How can you judge on general principles that what poor people who want to spend money on non-food items need is more food?
Food stamps budget for 2010 is 68.7 billion. Proposed 2011 budget is 80.1 billion.