2009 November 24 Tuesday
More Food Insecurity In America

It is a record-breaking year for America. I'm quite sure it is one of many more to come.

WASHINGTON — The number of Americans who lived in households that lacked consistent access to adequate food soared last year, to 49 million, the highest since the government began tracking what it calls “food insecurity” 14 years ago, the Department of Agriculture reported Monday.

Since the ethnic groups with hunger problems (non-Asian minorities or NAMs) are the fast growing portions of the American population our future will feature more hunger.

Problems gaining access to food were highest in households with children headed by single mothers. About 37 percent of them reported some form of food insecurity compared with 14 percent of married households with children. About 29 percent of Hispanic households reported food insecurity, compared with 27 percent of black households and 12 percent of white households.

But it is a thought crime to think we should keep out immigrants who are most likely to end up poor and hungry. It is a thought crime to think that group average differences in performance starting at a very young age are not malleable to social engineering of environment. Since thinking rationally is taboo we get stupid policies and worsening results.

Single motherhood causes child poverty and hunger.

Heather Mac Donald wonders at the real desperation and competence of the single mothers in America who can't keep food on the table.

Is it really the case that a minimally competent mother (we won’t even contemplate fathers here) in this fabulously wealthy country where food is so cheap cannot give her child a healthy breakfast in the morning? Granted, doing so at low cost entails shopping for food low on the processing chain and, horrors of horrors, actually cooking it. A portion of rolled oats in a large discount container costs pennies and takes five minutes to cook. Too onerous? I know that there is a shortage of decent supermarkets and fresh food in the inner city, a result of low demand and high crime. (Actually, there’s not a decent supermarket in all of New York City.) But a little planning should be able to overcome that shortage by occasional trips to someplace where you can buy in bulk. Here’s a test of whether someone is really suffering from hunger or even just “food insecurity”: Are you willing to cook legumes for a few hours? If not, you’re not starving and have no claim on the public purse.

It really is amazing how cheaply you can eat if you are willing to start with raw materials.

I am pessimistic about the future of America because we no longer hold the lowest classes to a high standard of behavior. As long as poor people are allowed to follow their desires and we step in to bail them out we are going to get a society of increasing irresponsibility and incompetence.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2009 November 24 08:04 PM  Civilizations Decay

James Bowery said at November 24, 2009 8:38 PM:
Technology and the Distribution of Wealth

I INTEND TO SHOW that improved methods of production and exchange will also increase rent, regardless of population. When this is established, we will have explained why material progress lowers wages and produces poverty. No theory of pressure against the means of subsistence is needed, and Malthus's theory -- and all doctrines related to it -- will be completely disproved.


Mercer said at November 24, 2009 9:09 PM:

"Are you willing to cook legumes for a few hours? If not, you’re not starving and have no claim on the public purse."

I frequently eat legumes cooked with a pressure cooker I purchased for thirty dollars. It takes less then twenty minutes to cook them in the pc.

The poor people in Ireland lived on a diet of potatoes and dairy products for over a hundred years. Where I shop potatoes sell for 50 cents a pound. Someone on welfare could probably get milk or cheese for free through the WIC program.

mike said at November 25, 2009 5:51 AM:

I'm just wondering, has anyone come up with a metaphor as catchy as "carrot on a stick" for the reverse process? You know, when you keep trying harder and harder to help someone and they just become more and more helpless and dependent?

I see these people shopping at 7-11. Trying to buy cigarettes with food stamps. They are obese. It is simply not possible to lower the bar far enough that they would bother to hop over it.

Michael said at November 26, 2009 2:27 AM:


"Throwing money down a human rathole."

That's the best I can do.

Bob Badour said at November 26, 2009 6:13 AM:

Throwing good money after bad.

MaryJ said at November 27, 2009 1:22 PM:

Underclass people who come from cultures with low social trust, low standards of civic-mindedness, and high corruption levels (i.e. Latin Americans) are, unfortunately, probably exploiting the free food banks dishonestly. I have heard many anecdotes about Mexicans using WIC vouchers and food stamps to buy discount food at the grocery store, then turn around and sell it on the street at full price. They also use the discounted food to subsidize their illegal home burrito-making and other food service ventures. They probably do the same with the free food they get from the food banks.

Poverty has many fathers; corruption is one of them. Societal resources are raided several times by this kind of corruption: the government or a private charity spends money wastefully on subsidizing crooked behavior, honest, taxpaying shopkeepers must compete unfairly with dishonest ones, and the government loses again when the illegal businesses fail to pay sales tax and business fees.

For these reasons I'm skeptical about any claims put forth by food banks about the rise of hunger in the country.

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