The Cato Institute’s Chris Edwards wants you to know that it’s easy to reduce federal spending by ten percent, you just need to be willing to let kids go hungry:
10. Food Subsidies (Food Stamps and School Lunch). Low-income families often suffer from poor food choices and obesity, not a shortage of calories. Food aid for the needy should be left to private charities. Save $90 billion.
It’s of course true that low-income families in the United States rarely if ever suffer from a shortage of calories. But the existence of food assistance programs is a major reason why that’s the case. I recall when Mark Perry form AEI cited declining levels of pollution to debunk the need for environmental regulation, when in reality it reflects the success of environmental regulation at curbing pollution. With the “left to private charities” line Edwards does crawl back toward reality in which giving food to poor people performs the useful task of preventing starvation. But leaving these matters to charity means they may or may not actually get done; I’m happy to leave the question of whether or not there’s a symphony in a given city up to whether or not wealthy donors feel like supporting a symphony, but the notion that children should have adequate food rather than starving to death is a question of basic justice that shouldn’t be left up to happenstance.
Ah, the good old days.