Yesterday Aviva Shen at ThinkProgress highlighted rhetoric from Tennessee congressman Stephen Fincher (R) at last week’s House Agricultural Committee debate on cutting SNAP benefits in the impending farm bill. His sentiments were ensconced within a broader denunciation of the government stealing “other people’s money;” in this instance as a matter of providing nutrition assistance to millions of Americans. Fincher defended his position by asserting biblically grounded reasoning (emphasis mine):
Fincher invoked the Bible in his defense of the devastating cuts, quoting, “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.”
As Shen goes on to note, Fincher fails to find a similar case for condemning himself for receiving millions in farm subsidies over from 1999 to 2012, including a whopping $70,000 direct check for doing…well, nothing.
1. The people Fincher characterizes as undeserving of food because they’re unwilling to work are mostly children, the elderly and disabled:
2. Most of those households who are working age and not disabled actually work during the month they received SNAP benefits, and the vast majority are employed within year:
3. Finally, the number of households working while participating in SNAP has sharply increased:
If Fincher wants to advocate low-income child labor in order to prevent statist theft he’s certainly welcome to make that case. If Fincher wants the elderly to leave retirement because their dependency on SNAP is offensive to his faith then he should be writing Slate-pitchy op-eds in The Tennesseean. If Fincher believes there is a policy distinction between his willingness to work as a farmer and other’s willingness to work low-wage jobs then he should explain why the former deserves public redistribution and latter deserves nothing.
I could go on but the onus is on Fincher and other similarly-minded folks to explain why ‘working poor,’ ‘disabled,’ ‘elderly,’ and ‘minor’ are statuses that necessarily exclude getting other people’s stolen money but public assistance or tax exclusions for farmers, bankers, and corporations are designations that escape such biblical condemnation.