Wisconsin is one of those states that really hates poor people. (Yeah, we know. Just like the other 49.) The state’s Republicans are particularly obsessed with what poors eat, or don’t eat, or where they buy food to eat, or whether they’re really poor enough to deserve to eat, or how best to humiliate them for wanting to eat. So in addition to separate but “equal” grocery stores, drug-testing welfare recipients, and spying on your neighbors’ grocery carts to make sure they’re not using YOUR tax dollars to buy unnecessary luxuries like food, Wisconsin Republicans have some more terrific ideas they’re kicking around in Assembly Bill 177 to crack down on so-called “low-income individuals” and their fraudulent eating habits:
The department [of Health Services] shall publish on the department’s Internet site a current list of the foods for which a recipient must use at least 67 percent of the benefits amount that the recipient uses in a month.
The department shall prohibit the use of benefits to purchase crab, lobster, shrimp, or any other shellfish.
It’s not as if we haven’t heard conservatives complain, many times, about how people who receive government assistance shouldn’t be allowed to dine on lobster — and by government assistance, they don’t mean tax cuts for the rich. Rich people can spend their money on whatever they want because they made it themselves, without any help from anyone at all, and no one in their entire family tree ever received Social Security benefits or Medicare or a public school education, so if poor people want to eat lobster too, they should choose to bootstrap their way to wealth, like Mitt Romney, for example, with nothing but his father’s stock portfolio to get him started.
However, that’s quite different from participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or FoodShare, as it’s called in Wisconsin. Those people, who are probably just faking their low incomes anyway, or wasting all their benefits on drugs, need to be carefully monitored and told exactly what they may and may not eat. The Wisconsin Women, Infants & Children Nutrition Program has a handy brochure of permitted and prohibited foods. Let’s take a look!
How about beans, for example? They’re cheap, filling, good for you, last forever. So sure, you can buy those. But if the store where you’re shopping does not have a 16-oz. bag of dried beans, too bad for you, you’re not going to rob your fellow Wisconsinites of their hard-earned tax dollars by purchasing a bag of beans that is more or less than one pound!
And as for organic? Forget it. Organic food is for gainfully incomed Americans. If you’re not buying your own food your own self, you’ll have your beans in whatever pesticide flavor is available in a one-pound bag and like it! Or not. Who cares? You’re poor; what you like doesn’t matter. So lucky you if you enjoy Pepperidge Farm Bread’s 100% Whole Wheat Cinnamon with Raisin Swirl, but too bad if you like bagels. Any bagels. That is not government-approved poor food. Nor is sharp cheddar cheese; it’s “mild or medium only” for you, moocher. And no white rice. And no “herbs, spices or seasonings.” And no nuts, not even peanuts, which aren’t nuts. But then, ketchup is not exactly a vegetable, and yet it’s on the list of prohibited canned vegetables, so there. But really, the department is just looking out for your health, poor people. That’s probably why you can only buy “light” canned tuna. Or maybe there is no rhyme or reason to any of these guidelines at all.
And maybe there’s no good reason for Wisconsin Republicans to worry their pretty little cheeseheads about how low-income families are getting fat on shellfish and sharp cheddar cheese, when they should be pissing into cups to prove they’re not junkies. Maybe Wisconsin Republicans are just assholes. Just like in the other 49 states.