March 10, 1994, Thursday, FINAL EDITION


LENGTH: 371 words

HEADLINE: Slash federal food aid

BYLINE: James Bovard

If prostitutes offered free sex to needy men, the number of males claiming
to be sex-starved would skyrocket overnight.

If banks offered to hand out free $ 100 bills to struggling families, the
number of people claiming financial stress would quintuple.

The fact that 26 million people allegedly receive free food from private
pantries and soup kitchens each month proves only that when free goods are
USA TODAY, March 10, 1994

offered, demand will always exceed supply. It would be absurd to try to deduce
from this cold, hard fact that the government must continue giving out more free
food under the Emergency Food Assistance Program.

The hullabaloo over this program is especially ludicrous because its budget -
$ 80 million a year - accounts for less than 0.5% of federal food-assistance
spending. The hunger-hysteria lobby has succeeded in turning an arcane budget
issue into a transcendent moral issue, as if mass hunger must result from any
reduction in any of the dozen federal food programs.

If federal spending were the answer, hunger would have been abolished long
ago. Federal food-assistance spending has increased over 100-fold since 1955 -
yet the media report far more of a "hunger crisis" now than they did back then.

The hunger-hysteria lobby never explains why federal handouts (which offer to
pay for up to eight meals a day per poor person) have not solved the hunger
problem; instead, the lobbyists clamor ever louder for more handouts.

The hunger-hysteria lobby has a long history of inventing misleading methods
to greatly exaggerate the number of hungry; in one study, a prominent
organization assumed that any low-income person who did not get food stamps must
be hungry. But Agriculture Department studies show that many low-income
USA TODAY, March 10, 1994

families who refuse to go on food stamp/welfare actually feed themselves better
than those who go on the dole.

It is not surprising that lobbies would agitate for continued wasteful
federal spending. What is surprising is that the news media continue to be a
mindless conduit of any well-hyped concocted tale that floats across some
editor's desk.

How can we expect politicians to rein in the federal government if those in
the news media refuse to rein in their naivete?