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Archive for April 8th, 2012

I’ve complained about food stamp abuse on several occasions, including people using them to buy luxury coffee at Starbucks and to buy steaks and lobster. I’ve groused about college kids scamming the program and the Obama Administration rewarding states that sign up more food stamp recipients.

I’ve also been outraged by schemes to make it easier to use food stamps at fast food restaurants, and I’ve criticized New York City for giving food stamps to newly released prisoners and running foreign-language ads encouraging more people to sign up for the program.

But we now have a winner for the strangest story of food stamp abuse. Here are the distasteful details from a Fox News report.

Nadya “Octomom” Suleman is on food stamps. …California offers $2,000 a month food assistance to large families earning less than $119,000 a year. Suleman has 14 children after undergoing repeated in vitro fertilizations. She is famous for having octuplets after she already had six children.

I’m not sure what gets me most agitated about this story.

  • Should I be upset that the state of California pays $24,000 per year to help subsidize people who have children they can’t afford?
  • Should I be upset that the state of California is giving handouts to families that make more than $100,000 per year and can afford to feed themselves?
  • Should I be upset that I probably helped pay for the expensive fertilization procedures this single mother utilized (I’m just guessing, but I would be shocked if taxpayers didn’t pick up the tab)?

I would conclude by saying this woman is in desperate need of counseling, but I’m sure taxpayers would get stuck with the bill for that as well.

This is one of the reasons why I support the federalist approach to welfare reform. If we shift all redistribution programs back to the states, we’ll generally get better policy.

And when leftist states such as California continue to finance bad behavior, at least I’ll know that I’m not being coerced to subsidize foolishness.

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Ron Paul has made “End the Fed” a popular slogan, but some people worry that this is a radical untested idea. In part, this is because it is human nature to fear the unknown.

But there are plenty of examples of policy reforms that used to be considered radical but are now commonplace.

This list could go on, but the pattern is always the same. People assume something has to be done by government because “that’s the way it’s always been.” Then reform begins to happen and the myth is busted.

But is money somehow different? Not according to some experts.

Here’s some of what John Stossel wrote in a recent column.

Why must our government make currency competition illegal? …Competition is generally good. Why not competition in currencies? Most people I interviewed scoffed at the idea. They said private currency should be illegal. But impressive thinkers disagree. In 1975, a year after he won the Nobel Prize in economics, F.A. Hayek published “Choice in Currency,”which has inspired a generation of “free banking” economists. Hayek taught us that competition not only respects individual liberty, it produces essential knowledge we cannot obtain any other way. Any central bank is limited in its access to such knowledge, and subject to political pressure, no matter how independent it’s supposed to be. “This monopoly of government, like the postal monopoly, has its origin not in any benefit it secures for the people but solely in the desire to enhance the coercive powers of government,” Hayek wrote. “I doubt whether it has ever done any good except to the rulers and their favorites. All history contradicts the belief that governments have given us a safer money than we would have had without their claiming an exclusive right to issue it.” Former Federal Reserve economist David Barker discussed this idea recently with me. “There are a lot of ways that private money might be better,” Barker said. “It might have embedded chips that would make it easier to count.” The chips would also prevent counterfeiting. There used to be private currencies. A businessman who sold iron and tin made coins that advertised his business. The Georgia Railroad Co. also produced its own currency. This became illegal in 1864 — Abraham Lincoln was a fan of central banking.

Stossel’s historical references are particularly important. As I explain in this video, many nations – including the United States – used to have competing currencies.

And if you want a thorough analysis of the Fed’s performance, I urge you to watch this George Selgin speech. Then ask yourself whether we would have been in better shape with private currencies.

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