Ta-Nehisi Coates insinuates that there is racism in the claim that Obama is a Food Stamp President:
When a professor of history calls Barack Obama a “Food Stamp President,” it isn’t a mistake to be remedied through clarification; it is a statement of aggression. And when a crowd of his admirers cheer him on, they are neither deluded, nor in need of forgiveness, nor absolution, nor acting against their interest. Racism is their interest.
First, I don’t doubt that cynical Machiavellians like Gingrich will pander to racism to advance their agenda. But the problem is, the claim is true. There is no great distortion here.
The compelling factor is raw empirical data:
For good measure, here’s black unemployment (in red) — contrasted with total unemployment (in blue) — under Obama:
Not only have lots of people ended up on the bread line under Obama, but a disproportionately high number of these have been black.
Now, we can blame Bush, and Bernanke, and Greenspan, and Geithner, and bad luck too. Who or what is most to blame is a matter open for debate. But the raw claim that he is a Food Stamp President is empirically accurate.
Now that’s not to say that I like, or generally agree with the originator of the claim, Newt Gingrich. I have written before that I believe Newt Gingrich is an appalling Presidential choice, for a variety of reasons.
But disdain for Gingrich, or Romney, or Paul, or Santorum, is not a good reason to blindly support Obama, or to deodorise his record. A while back I wrote adamantly that Obama was engaged in class warfare, but not the class warfare Romney accuses him of. I accuse him of class warfare against the poor through military overspending that takes resources away from the poor, and destroys them in the theatres of war.
Here’s a full breakdown of Federal spending in Obama’s first year in office:
• Military Personnel $129 billion
• Operation & Maint. $241 billion
• Procurement $143 billion
• Research & Dev. $79 billion
• Construction $15 billion
• Family Housing $3 billion
• DoD misc. $4 billion
• Retired Pay $70 billion
• DoE nuclear weapons $17 billion
• NASA (50%) $9 billion
• International Security $9 billion
• Homeland Security (military) $35 billion
• State Dept. (partial) $6 billion
• other military (non-DoD) $5 billion
• “Global War on Terror” $200 billion
• Veterans’ Benefits $94 billion
• Interest on national debt (80%) created by military spending, $390 billion
• Health/Human Services
• Soc. Sec. Administration
• Education Dept.
• Food/Nutrition programs
• Housing & Urban Dev.
• Labor Dept.
• other human resources.
• Interest on debt (20%)
• Government personnel
• Justice Dept.
• State Dept.
• Homeland Security (15%)
• International Affairs
• NASA (50%)
• other general govt.
• Homeland Security (15%)
• Energy (non-military)
• Environmental Protection
• Nat. Science Fdtn.
• Army Corps Engineers
• Fed. Comm. Commission
• Other physical resources
The reality here is that a majority of nondiscretionary federal spending is going toward permanent warfare, “global security“, the military industrial complex, guns, bombs and death. Beyond that, money spent is often frittered away on crony capitalism, bridges to nowhere, and Washington’s largesse. That is an epic transfer of wealth from ordinary Americans. But not only that, it is significantly weakening America — every gun built, every bomb dropped, every phoney war created is money, time, effort and skills wasted that could instead have been spent on creating infrastructure, starting enterprises, investing in new equipment, building schools, developing technology, opening factories, or hiring workers.
Then there is the drug war that Obama has continued, which has today led to more black men being incarcerated than there were slaves in 1850.
Obama supporters would do well to look at the facts, instead of churning out allegations of “racism” as the fire burning beneath opposition to his Presidency.
“Raw empirical data” has a well-known racist bias
You’d think the racism thing, particularly when you argue numbers, statistics, and systemic flaws in economic system with Obama supporters, wouldn’t come out because it’d be comical. But I’ve already heard it from a few people. One person said it was “the contempt in my voice” that made her feel it was just racism. There was contempt in my voice alright, much like the contempt I had for Bush, both of which had nothing to do with race. But great article, I’m going to use these numbers when in my discourse. Keep up the good work John! And hold on tight, I have a bad feeling this year is going to be a rough one.
I’m ready for anything.
I believe it if wasn’t for the honey voiced, positive, joking and reassuring Obama, the USA would have rioted after the GFC.
What surprises me is food stamps can ber used to buy ice cream and unhealthy food. Why not provide government “Mung Bean” soup kitchens, and when they arrive they can be assessed for Drug and Alcohol addictions or other health issues.
I heard food stamps can be traded for other things. Is ths true?
If they got rid of inefficient government departments and subsidised basic food shelter and clothing (not gangsta rap style brands) there would not be any poverty, and if anybody wants to eat “designer” food, live in “designer” houses or wear “Designer” clothes they can perform additional labour services at a free market rate and be sacked at no notice. That way people without education or valuable skills will always be employed as Gardeners, Cooks, Maids and Labourers.
Or is that Racist?
The GFC and all the fallout were hardly the fault of the poor. Sure, I probably agree most welfare is run inefficiently and wastefully. I would probably prefer it if more was administered at the state and local level. But really I think what the poor need more than anything are entrepreneurial loans that can be converted into equity. That’s the fastest way to more a capitalistic and entrepreneurial society. Heck, I might even qualify for such a loan to expand http://www.azizonomics.com into a competitor to Bloomberg & the WSJ 😉
You won’t need a loan. Because your site is free, and without ads (Although I am unsure if Ron Pauls donates, I find it unbiased).
I stumbled onto this site, because I read the WSJ, then Marketwatch, then someone posted a link to ZeroHedge etc.
Most people who have lost money have inquiring minds.
Bloomberg is finished. It is only for a balanced view.
Yeah, I was kidding, a loan is totally unnecessary as I do not wish to expand or commercialise. There is a lot to be said for keeping the site sponsor-free, and in keeping the audience fairly small. I do not want to become a big media prostitute.
Obama looks and acts like a basketball player (is that racist?) it is not intended as racist but anyone can interpret it as racist if they want to. I suppose that is why he was chosen as the next great democratic leader. Unfounded rumors on the Internet suggest he is a closet homosexual and is being blackmailed by his handlers, anything is possible, one needs to be soul-less to be the President of the USA.
Africa for the Africans,Asia for the Asians,white countries for EVERYBODY!
Everybody says there is this RACE problem. Everybody says this RACE problem will be solved when the third world pours into EVERY white country and ONLY into white countries.
The Netherlands and Belgium are just as crowded as Japan or Taiwan, but nobody says Japan or Taiwan will solve this RACE problem by bringing in millions of third worlders and quote assimilating unquote with them.
Everybody says the final solution to this RACE problem is for EVERY white country and ONLY white countries to “assimilate,” i.e., intermarry, with all those non-whites.
What if I said there was this RACE problem and this RACE problem would be solved only if hundreds of millions of non-blacks were brought into EVERY black country and ONLY into black countries?
How long would it take anyone to realize I’m not talking about a RACE problem. I am talking about the final solution to the BLACK problem?
And how long would it take any sane black man to notice this and what kind of psycho black man wouldn’t object to this?
But if I tell that obvious truth about the ongoing program of genocide against my race, the white race, Liberals and respectable conservatives agree I am a naziwhowantstokillsixmillionjews.
They say they are anti-racist. What they are is anti-white.
Anti-racist is a code word for anti-white.
This is an interesting viewpoint. People can probably be divided into those who are racist to varying degrees and those who are not racist. A key to this bifurcation is what criteria one uses to define racism. Since I hold largely what are defined as conservative political positions, I have been called racist by liberals, for no other reason I can ascertain.
Some view Japan as a nation promoting racism because of immigration policies that I would conclude are designed to preserve the national culture. Is that how one gets to be defined as racist? On the other hand, most of the nations that have had, historically, the most open immigration policies would seem to be those most often accused of racism.
I think this is a complicated topic and that most labels are attached incorrectly and for reasons that have little to do with the concept of racism.
Racism is any philosophical position using concepts of race to make decisions, judgments, constructs or ideologies.
It has nothing whatever to do with anything else. “Pro-black” or “pro-minority” positions are racist, even though they are a kind of racism that certain ideologies have dubbed to be “positive racism”.
I abhor racism, because it is shallow. The content of a person’s character says much more about an individual than their racial or ethnic origin. So the “purest” non-racist position is to not hold any race-related views whatever; i.e. we are all individuals, race is just a skin deep characteristic that has little or no bearing on character.
Unfortunately history makes that very difficult. There is a history in America of blacks being ganged-up on by whites; the white establishment, the white judicial system, or groups like the KKK.
My own ethnic background is a mixture of Arab, Jewish and Anglo-Saxon. Given the way my hair curls, I’d be very surprised if I didn’t have at least a few African ancestors. Now, that’s a pretty messed up combination in itself, and there are fresh wounds. Every time I get on a plane I am taken aside, suspected of being a terrorist. I feel like for no reason whatever other than my (dubious) membership of certain ethnicities, I am being picked on. Given the history (so many layers — from slavery, to segregation, to the drug war) and given the level of black unemployment I can only imagine what it must feel like for black people in America.
I feel where “black power”, black liberation, the black church are coming from. I understand why history drives us into recrimination, and why it’s so easy to view opposition to Obama as racial recrimination against an already persecuted minority.
But when we talk about politics it’s important to not get into ideological ghettoes. Obama has not been a kind President to America, and certainly not to black people. Black people are worse off economically under Obama than under Bush or Clinton. Therefore, any contestation that opposing Obama is “anti-black” is ridiculous. I will believe that many Republicans are anti-black in character.
But ultimately we have to break the cycle of recrimination. My ideology — of personal, spiritual and social liberty, as defined by the Declaration of Independence — makes no mention of race or ethnicity. It defines all people as important human beings, all of whom having the right to life, to liberty, and to the fruits of their labour. I’d love for other people to get to that place, because I believe it is truly non-racist. If black or white individuals are having their liberty extinguished, they deserve a remedy. Recrimination and its logical conclusion of racial and cultural ghettoisation is just an endless and fruitless cycle of blame. I believe we have to avoid recrimination to advance as human beings. I don’t want to live in a cultural ghetto; I want life, liberty and property rights. Throwing accusations about racism, or accusing groups of people of being racially insensitive, or bent is just a step backward into recrimination.
Let me first say how much I have been intrigued by your writings & have looked forward to them for the past six months.
As to today’s topic, I understand & agree with the need to place responsibility on BO for his priorities. I am also sure those willing to pander to racists will not hold back in any case. The one thing that really concerns me is how the cost of food inflation has been downplayed leading the the rise in foodstamp use. It seems commodities have come unhinged from the factors that have kept them stable in this country for the past century. Now we have food as one of the weapons of permanent warfare because of its dependence on hydrocarbons.
Absolutely, food inflation is being very much overlooked.
In fact, the trend is to measure core inflation — which cuts out food and fuel — because it is less sensitive to “rapid swings” in cost. The price of food is not just a volatile variable. It is a reflection of basic economic conditions, and the rapid rise over the last few years is a reflection that basic economic conditions are deteriorating.
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Keep working ,splendid job!