Put it on the EBT (clarification)

On my last post, I wrote about people using their EBT cards (food stamps) for all kinds of junk food, from cookies to sodas, in a single transaction.

I must clarify something. I meant to say that there should be some way of preventing people, particularly the obese and diabetic, from having an entire TRANSACTION of junk food bought with government assistance (i.e.: five sodas, three bags of potato chips, two bags of cookies, etc.). A comfort food here and there is not a problem, in my opinion. If you want to buy a large amount of junk in one transaction, you should use your own money.

I am aware that, like anything, this can be abused. People could simply make several small transactions of junk food instead of one large one.

I am aware that this has the potential to become something of a “government-approved quotas of unhealthy vs. healthy food” program.

I am simply making the point that it doesn’t make sense to allow the dependent diabetic or obese person to perpetuate their worsening condition to the point of more medical expenses billed to the government.

Here’s a good idea: If you are diabetic or obese, don’t buy foods that will kill you faster than your condition. Make the right choice and use the assistance to better your life to the point where you no longer need the assistance.

Society wants to make sure you are taken care of. However, we don’t want you to go in a downward spiral that will cost the government even more. See a dietitian, look online, see a doctor or just use common sense to improve yourself.


Put it on the EBT

I have nothing against EBT cards (food stamps). I think it’s a great program that keeps many from going hungry.

Having said that, one thing I don’t get is why the government allows people to use their cards on “foods” like soda, potato chips, cookies, cakes, candy and even Starbucks (inside a Target store, for example).

When it comes to people’s food choices, I know that the government cannot force people to eat one thing or another. The freedom to rise and fall on one’s own merits is one of the many great freedoms in the United States (apparently, many Americans apply this rise-fall concept to their bathroom scales).

Let’s say someone who’s obese and diabetic…or on the verge of becoming diabetic…buys cookies, potato chips, cheesecake, and sodas all in one transaction with their EBT card. I have seen this countless times as a cashier at Target and it continues to baffle me.

Government programs like food stamps are designed to provide the poor and vulnerable with life’s necessities. Buying a venti extra-caramel Caramel Frappucino at the Starbucks inside a Target store is not a necessity (it’s just too much, really).

The unhealthy person who habitually buys junk food with his or her EBT card at the checkout counter will most likely have complications with diabetes and obesity. If they cannot afford food, they cannot afford healthcare and their medical expenses are billed to the government. This is easy to correct or at least curtail.

Currently, the word “investment” is used frequently. “Invest in education.” “Invest in healthcare.” “Invest in the future.” Why aren’t we forbidding the very unhealthy from essentially perpetuating the cycle of dependence? Why is the government helping the unhealthy become even more unhealthy?

The least we can do is exclude junk food and non-essentials from being covered by an EBT card. If one wants to buy a large cheesecake and a side of extra-cheddar chips at the grocery store, buy those items with one’s own money.


The Proposition Must Be Abolished

The proposition (aka “ballot initiative”) is a horrible way to make law. California has been afflicted with it since the early 20th century, when it was introduced with the Progressive Movement. Since then, the state has become a fractured, unworkable, special-interest-driven disaster. If enough signatures are gathered – and millions of dollars raised to spread propaganda – a proposition is placed on the ballot where it is approved or rejected by voters.

Propositions strike at the heart of what a republic is: smart government. After all, California is modeled after the federal system: It has three branches of government – legislative, executive and judicial – and a bicameral legislature, made up of the lower-house Assembly and the upper-house Senate. Under this system, the idea is balance of power. The people elect lawmakers to the legislature who in turn make laws. Those laws are then approved, rejected (vetoed), or enforced by the Executive and checked by the Judiciary to determine if the laws are constitutional. Lawmakers are [supposed to be] intelligent and educated individuals who reason with each other and make compromises; through this, we get wise government. If we the people are unhappy with their performance, we can either elect someone else during the next election or recall (impeach on the national level) them. The proposition completely bypasses this checks-and-balances system.

There have been many terrible propositions in California over the century. Some of the worst are Propositions 8, 13 and 140.

Proposition 8, passed by voters in November 2008, banned same-sex marriage. Earlier that year, the California Supreme Court struck down the previous ban on same-sex marriage – Proposition 22 (2000) – and said that homosexual couples had the legal right to wed. Opponents of the decision claimed that the court’s decision would lead to societal breakdown and with nearly $40 million and backing from the Mormon Church and conservative groups, Prop 8 was added to the constitution. This is a classic example of what Thomas Jefferson called “Tyranny of the majority,” where the majority (voters) took away the rights of a minority (same-sex couples). Whether one approves of same-sex relationships or not is not the point; a minority had its rights denied simply because the majority said so.

Proposition 13, passed by voters in 1978, put a limit on the amount of property taxes levied on property owners. At first glance, it sounds like an excellent idea; limit the government’s ability to increase taxes on property. However, after Prop 13, local governments – whose main source of revenue had been property taxes – had to find other ways to generate revenue once money was severely reduced. Thanks to Prop 13, the state is now responsible for supporting local budgets and schools while local governments are left scavenging for funding from sales taxes and fees. Voters were angry at the government for raising taxes and rather than research where their communities get funding, they passed a proposition that essentially crippled them.

Proposition 140, passed by voters in 1990, put term limits on politicians into place. It sounds good in theory: limit assemblypersons to three two-year terms and senators to two four-year terms. Arguments for Prop 140 included claims that it would eliminate professional politicians, make the legislature more diverse and break special interest networks. Now, we have bitter, partisan lawmakers who don’t work together to make law in a reasoned manner. These days, legislators are too busy trying to bring their own agenda to Sacramento or running their campaigns for their next term or next position. Prior to 1990, it took a couple terms for an assemblyperson or senator to truly understand and grasp their office and its responsibilities. Now, by the time they know what they’re actually doing, they are term-limited out of office. California is complex and experience and reason are desperately needed.

There are many more examples because the proposition itself is a flawed way to make laws. Instead of relying on intelligent lawmakers to design policy, anyone who’s registered to vote can simply make their own laws if they don’t agree with what the government is doing. With this, minority rights are threatened, local governments are crippled and politicians are more partisan than ever. This is why direct democracy is a horrible idea. The proposition must be abolished.


It’s Almost Here!

It’s already here: I’ll be leaving to Sacramento this Friday.

Time has gone by so fast. I still cannot believe that two years ago, I was a freshman at the local community college. Now, on Friday, I’ll be transferring to California State University Sacramento for a degree in Government Journalism.

I’ve already made some great friends and I am eager to make more. This new experience, this new chapter in my life…I’m ready and anxious for it.

Here’s to new beginnings and new friends.