(Jacobin) -- The political mean season has returned, with all the usual slanders of social programs that protect Americans from the worst kinds of hardship and deprivation. The poors! They’re behaving badly! And government handouts paid for with your tax dollars are to blame. In the end, we are told, the well-intentioned policies of meddling do-gooders do nothing but encourage bad behaviors and self-defeating choices.
The latest target in this campaign is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, more commonly called food stamps).
In a New York Times story over the weekend, Anahad O’Connor massages and misreports a USDA study to reinforce some of the worst stereotypes about food stamps. For his trouble, the editors placed it on the front page. Readers of the newspaper of record learn that the end result of tax dollars spent on food assistance is a grocery cart full of soda. No exaggeration. The inside headline for the story is “What’s in the Shopping Cart of a Food Stamp Household? Lots of Sugary Soda,” and the front-page illustration shows a shopping cart containing almost nothing but two-liter pop bottles.
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