Who Are the Real Welfare Queens?

55 Billion Goes to:

School lunch & breakfast programs
WIC (Women, Infants, & Children)
Food subsidies
Food stamps
Nutrition education
Other food and health programs

127 Billion Goes to:

Corporate funding (direct & indirect)
Grants to Fortune 500 companies
Big Agra subsidies (including sugar)

References: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Further Reading:

School Vending Machines

Size Matters

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29 thoughts on “Who Are the Real Welfare Queens?”

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  1. It deeply saddens me that this website appears to not only lean LEFT, but tilts so far it may topple over!

    Would you please provide a complete breakdown of the statistics to allow for a valid discussion?

    Consider the following question, if the Government pays a farmer not to grow the crop, i.e. sugar, would that be good? You do realize there is only one producing Sugar Plantation in Hawaii, correct? All of the other closed.

    And if one desires that more money be spent on welfare, why not contribute to a private charity and/or volunteer.

    Okay, off the Right Wing soap box. I am from the OC, you know, and we apparently think differently from our liberal Northern neighbors!

    1. If private charities are so great, why do they always have to beg for money?

      If private charities are so great, why were so many people still starving and homeless before the New Deal? Many of them children?

      Don’t get me wrong, I think the welfare system is broken, and turning it from AFDC into TANF made it broken…er. And WIC is a joke. But there was lots and lots of time for social conservatives to come up with a better idea–some 100 years or more. You didn’t. End of story. Excuse me if I happen to think helping the vulnerable is something that cannot wait for ideological purity to be achieved.

      There *are* still charities helping the poor, you know, and you are more than welcome to donate generously to them.

      Have a nice day.

      1. Most non-profits charities (ie Catholic Charities, Christians who Care, et al)were cleaned out 2 years ago. Anyone w/o housing can count on waiting 5+ years for housing this includes the disabled and aged. So where are we going after the government ruined our economy with their wild spending? We are living in garages and porches for those of us lucky enough to have someone who has a real understanding of what is going on and how little the government is doing to correct their greed and disregard to the rest of us humans. Blame it on the people? The people didn’t make the rules, didn’t rob the county office. The states decided who would take the money.

      2. yy greataunt and a number of her brothers and sisters were taken care of by the Catholic church during the depression.

        your question about the homeless and starving before the New Deal suggest you have proof that the New Deal was responsible for bringing people out of starvation and homelessness.

        now we now have 78 years of Big Government and 100 years of a central bank. we are 15 trillion in the hole. 1 in 5 Americans are receive foodstamp. We have a sustained 8%+ unemployment rate. unempolyment for those 25 years and younger is probadly closer to 25%. the social security fund has been robbed. the housing bubble popped as predicted by Austrian economist. we have a 1 trillion dollar student loan bubble that is sure to pop. the ponzi / pyramid scheme known as monetization of debt is near collapse as all pyramid schemes do. the only people who benifit are those at the top of the pyramid…. “we are from the government, and we are here to help” — RIGHT!

    2. My police officer spouse who does child abuse and neglect cases cases can tell you how the private charities are just not as efficient nor as effective as gov’t services for helping the poor, the powerless, the transient, etc. He’s got a case where the children walked by the private child abuse prevention center ever day after having the crap kicked out of them. These kids had black eyes, broken toes, etc.

      It was a gov’t agency that discovered the abuse, investigated and ended the abuse.

    3. PS. Don’t get me wrong. I do love that people give and run charities, and there is a need for them. But again, it just is not as efficient or fair as when done on a larger scale. Each charity has to do all the background screening for assets, income, history of abusing the charity, etc. It is redundant. It only helps people who might have heard about their charity. Most require the people to worship for their assistance.
      Most of the welfare system brokenness comes from not having adequate staffing for auditing, investigations, and enforcement.

  2. Oxybeles, I appreciate your views and questions. I think the more opinions we can get participating, the more we all get out of this.

    Our team has been discussing Friedman economics and reading quite a bit from the Cato institute. What’s struck us as boggling – and antithetical to a free-market system – is the staggering funding of big business, particularly Big Agra. Incidentally, these numbers are all from Cato (a very libertarian/conservative think tank). The intention isn’t to be “liberal” here – but simply to present the facts in different perspective from what’s always in the mainstream media and to allow you, the readers, to do the talking.

    A thought: we talk about how important it is to reverse the spiral of obesity in this country, but when our own government is spending disproportionate amounts of our tax money on farm conglomerates that produce high fructose corn syrup instead of, say, school nutrition education (or a tax break) I think the whole issue merits attention. Personally, I think one thing that might be interesting to consider would be to provide a choice to taxpayers for where their dollars go – farm subsidies, school lunches, nutrition education…or none at all. But then that’s probably too libertarian for most folks…

    The 5 sources linked in the post can provide you with a wealth of reputable information. Of the 127 billion, 92 billion goes to corporate grants and subsidies, and 35 billion goes to farm subsidies. Of these farm subsidies, the funding goes overwhelmingly to sugar, grain, corn, oil (corn and soy), and dairy.

    For great information on sugar subsidies and how this hurts consumers, read:

    By comparing how our tax dollars are used for individual vs. corporate welfare, it does not follow that I think we ought to increase individual welfare to match the corporate spending. This graphic is merely to show – in stark visual perspective – what our government chooses to spend our tax dollars on.

    And don’t get off the soap box! There’s plenty of room for everyone here.

  3. Left or right I think we can all agree that the government has done more than its share of – pork – special interest spending. Personally I am more of a free market fan for corporations and farmers, if they can’t be profitable then they probably do something else, and yes for ‘national interest’ entities as well. Also, I am a firm believer in the idea that we shouldn’t be just handing out assistance – a person should have to to give something back to society if they are able.

    I know I read blogs like this to help find ‘balance’ and weigh other ideals from various perspectives whether it’s health or politics, but maybe our elected leaders need to think more carefully how they spend OUR money that we work hard for and not spend money on things the can’t or shouldn’t afford, and find a better balance in their existence.

    1. “corporations and farmers, if they can’t be profitable then they probably do something else…”

      Small farmers and family farms are disappearing at record rates! (I know, We were one!) When a small/family goes out of business, chances are it will be bought by a corporate farm.

      Big corporations (e.g. WalMart) come into a community and suddenly all the family owned small businesses go away.

      Both statements are because this is NOT a ‘free market’. The markets are controlled by Wall Street, period.

      1. My impression was that farm subsidies tended to go disproportionately to large corporations. Correct me if I’m wrong but doesn’t that stack the deck even more in favor of corporate farmers?

  4. I am more Free Market for everybody!

    Whether it is an Individual or a Corporation. Just say no!

    Yes, the truly needy, i.e., those that cannot take care of themselves, not those that choose not to do so and feel entitled or an entitlement, but those who seriously can’t get by without it.

    As for education on nutrition, perhaps sites such as this do a better job than the Government. Not perhaps, a much better job. Hence, the Government should reduce it role

    1. Nobody would feel entitled to that tiny of a check every month. It’s actually better to go out and earn your own even if it’s minimum wage IF it is only you getting by on it and you’re not having to support children too.

      Even Medicaid sucks. I was never on AFDC/TANF but I was on Medicaid and they do the bare minimum to keep from killing you. If you suffer permanent damage from them not doing any more than that, well, that’s your fault for feeling entitled to be poor. [/snark]

      You need to do a little homework into the social system we all have to live with that makes parents choose between taking “entitlements” from the government (and that’s the government’s official budgetary category, by the way, NOT the way the recipients feel about it!) and giving up their children to total strangers. Because those are the choices we are left with anymore and either of them is going to be spectacularly damning on all sorts of levels.

      I had to make that choice between going on welfare and giving up my son. I will never be the same. And don’t you dare patronize me, sir.

    2. “perhaps sites such as this do a better job than the government” You are truly naive if you think seriously poor people have access to the internet. Many rural poor do not even have lights or telephones. I’ve been there. And now with gov’t funding cuts to libraries and schools, you’ll begin to see even the urban poor losing more tools to pull themselves out of ignorance and poverty. They phone companies already yanked phone booths for those who couldn’t afford a telephone.

  5. Why thanks, Oxybeles! One positive thing about increasing access to the web is that people can begin to take advantage of tools and information in greater numbers than ever before. Personal responsibility is a must and that’s what we hope to inspire people to strive for. Your health is up to you.

  6. Looking through your links, I couldn’t find the 127 billion mark you mention. The first article describes the 55 billion the Department of Agriculture spends on food subsities, which is 60% of the USDA budget, leaving only 36 billion for corporate agriculture subsities.

    The second article (testimony) does not limit itself to the USDA. It claims 75 billion dollars in corporate welfare. Also note this testimony is 8 years old.

    The fourth link is a more updated study on broad corporate welfare which puts the number at 92 billion, though the article admits it’s terms were broad, and the Department of Commerce places the number around 57 billion.

    Links 3 and 5 are specifically about agricultural welfare, and both support article 1 that only 35 billion is being spent on farm subsidies (i.e. Corporate welfare)

    The total budget for the USDA is 94 billion dollars.

    The only way I could get to 127 billion was by adding the 35 billion in farm subsidies to the 92 billion in “corporate welfare.” I may be mistaken, but according to the article 2 and 4, didn’t they already include farm subsidies as part of corporate welfare (i.e. your counting the 35 billion twice)?

    That being said, on the right side of your comparison chart, you have relabeled the USDA’s budget for FOOD SUBSIDIES as HUMAN WELFARE, and then you compare that to ALL CORPORATE WELFARE (government subsidies to techology companies, transportation businesses, etc.), not just the agricultural end. Isn’t that a bit like comparing apples to oranges? If you just look at agriculture, we’re actually spending less on farm subsidies (CORPORATE) than we are on food subsidies (HUMAN). If you are comparing all of corporate welfare to all of human welfare, it might be fair to include such things as Medicare and Social Security, which of course would dwarf the Corporate welfare. Although, the way Medicare is run these days, maybe it doesn’t deserve to be included as human welfare.

    All that being said, I agree with you and your articles. Corporate Welfare is a direct contradiction to a free market economy. The client is no longer the consumer, the client is the government. And the product isn’t determined by the need of the public but by the skill of the grant writer. Keep up the good fight!

  7. It deeply saddens me that this website appears to not only lean LEFT, but tilts so far it may topple over!

    And here I thought it was conservative to be pro-free market and thus *against* big government’s corporate subsidies for the agri-business conglomerates.

  8. SHH Billy — that’s a secret — conservatives aren’t suppose to make sense…

  9. It deeply saddens me that you have found a way to rear the ugly “left vs. right” head in this conversation. When really all that is being discussed is FACT vs. FICTION. We all know that politics is far from fact raising.

  10. “That being said, on the right side of your comparison chart, you have relabeled the USDA’s budget for FOOD SUBSIDIES as HUMAN WELFARE, and then you compare that to ALL CORPORATE WELFARE (government subsidies to techology companies, transportation businesses, etc.), not just the agricultural end. Isn’t that a bit like comparing apples to oranges? If you just look at agriculture, we’re actually spending less on farm subsidies (CORPORATE) than we are on food subsidies (HUMAN). “

    Actually, some food subsidies are corporate subsidies, too. Save for the milk cartons, all of the food served in school breakfast programs is prepackaged, brand-name carbs – individual servings of cereal, donuts, and ‘health’ bars. There is a reason these foods are served individually packaged rather than in bulk – to create brand loyalty. The food companies try to get schools to carry out promotional activities on their behalf. I know this because I am a teacher who supervises breakfast.

    Ditto for WIC. WIC coupons specify whichever brand has a contract with the state. The number of containers listed on the coupon is insufficient to feed the child. The expectation of baby formula manufacturers is that the parent will buy additional quantities of the same brand.

    As for Medicare, well, do you recall that Medicare reform bill that our elected representatives passed last year? A key component of the bill denied the federal government the power to negotiate drug prices with big pharma. That’s right. Uncle Sucker pays whatever price big pharma sets, unlike hospitals and insurance companies. And these un-free market prices are passed on to elderly consumers when the donut hole kicks in between $2,500 and $5,000.

  11. Billy stated,

    “And here I thought it was conservative to be pro-free market and thus *against* big government’s corporate subsidies for the agri-business conglomerates.”

    True and I agree, wholeheartedly.

    However, I read the comparison as not enough is being spent on individuals as compared to corporations and that individuals should increase exponentially to that of the alleged corporate welfare.

    Hence, LLTWS! Long-Live-The-Welfare-State.

  12. LLTWS – lol, that’s a new one I hadn’t heard! 🙂

    Wow, thank you SO much, everyone, for all your criticisms, questions and points. You have no idea how much I appreciate all of you taking the time to voice your ideas and concerns. This truly helps me to do a better job and to learn. Wonderful points, everyone. Until the next graphic! 😉

  13. What is being discussed here cuts to the corp of corporate fascism and monopoly and is more extreme right leaning (as in Hitler/Mussolini) than left (Congressman Dr. Paul CD-14 -R- has spoken extensively on this very issue). We would identify corp. welfare queens today as neo-conservatives or corporatist, not true constitutional conservatives, because they really don’t give a damn about your rights, just the company bottom line as supported by your tax dollars in the political “pay to play” system….i.e. we pay while they play. It’s a closed loop with campaign contributions assuring the tax gifts go to the monopolies…..

  14. sorry i’m a bit late to the discussion, but i’m a newbie here. I just wanted to mention that government farm subsidies hurt farmers. You benefit far more from them the more acres you have. So almost all of the money goes to large industrial farms, and actual farmers see the difference between the price they can charge and the market price increase even further.

  15. Medicare and social security are not welfare or entitlements… They are programs we have invested in our entire working lives… So we don’t slip into poverty when we are no longer able to work.

    1. Medicare also kicks in for people with end-stage renal disease, and Social Security helps orphans and widows/widowers. Neither is JUST for the elderly. But we all seem to want to forget that for some reason.

      Just like, with all the complaining about Medicare not being a Cadillac entitlement anymore, people tend to forget that Medicaid has *never* been a good program. Some of us would kill for the chance to buy into Medicare, we really would.

    2. Oh, let’s not forget the disabled. Social Security is for the disabled too.