Aug 212010

… is alive and well, and being funded by US taxpayers. Take THIS for example:

Step 1: Get food stamps. (Food stamps are good for only a limited number of products, and excludes things like smokes and booze)

Step 2: Go to the grocery store and buy, using the food stamps, cases of bottled water for $86.79

Step 3: Go around the back of the store, dump the water out of the bottles

Step 4: Go back into the store and feed the empty bottles into an automated “redemption machine”

Step 5: Collect $24 in cold hard cash

Step 6: Wisely invest that $24 in stocks, bonds or funds; buy gold or silver or real estate. Or spend it on beer and hookers. Whichever.

Sure, the rate of return is pretty poor… you get less of a third of the cash value of the food stamps. But you get *some* cash for free, while screwing over the suckers (AKA taxpayers). What’s not to like?

The article talks about how this is all very terrible, and that while illegal (Why? Not one single step in the process here is morally repugnant… except perhaps Step 1), it’s not often punished because there are no penalties.

There is, of course, an incredibly good solution to this sort of thing.

1) Get rid of food stamps *entirely.*

Now, we could stop it right there, and that’d be just fine. Those who aren’t in actual need wouldn’t be able to abuse the system. Those who are in need can visit charities.

But, sigh, some people will nevertheless bitch and moan about how horrible this is that we’re not providing free food to people “in need.” So, fine. Then here’s my proposal: provide free food. Not “food stamps,” but actual *food.* Specifically… “food loaf” (AKA “Nutraloaf.”)

“Food loaf” was developed for prisoners with behavioral problems (which would seem to be pretty much all prisoners… if they didn’t have behavioral problems, what are the chances they’d be prisoners?) Basically, it’s an entire days worth of food – institutional size in preparation – fed through a blender and baked into meatloaf-style loaves and served like slices of bread. All the nutirition you could ever hope for… all your cereal, peas, carrots, bread, taters, oatmeal, chicken, cheese, pork, eggs, fish, nuts, whatever all mashed together into an apparently tasteless – or slightly nasty-tasting – slab of nutritional goodness. You can’t stab anyone with a slice of bread.

Food loaf can be dehydrated so that it weighs approximately nothing, and, kept sealed, will last approximately forever. It has all the nutritional value you could want. The US could crank out food loaf by the kiloton and stockpile it, for use in disasters, emergencies… and as a food stamp replacement. Grocery stores or government offices could have one small corner constantly stocked with food loaf; any person could walk in, grab a set amount (a weeks worth for a family of four, say) and leave… don’t have to pay, don’t have to flash a special card, don’t need food stamps.

Food loaf would not be a real competitor with standard food items because it is, again, at best bland. It comes in one flavor, one texture, one format. Nobody who’s not in financial distress would willingly eat much of the stuff. But it *is* perfectly, and wholly adequately, nutritious.

So, food loaf could be made freely available to all. If you don’t need it, you can buy regular food. And if you choose not to eat it…. then you didn’t *need* it, and thus you don’t need government food assistance. Does it suck to eat the same bland crap every day? Yes, I would imagine so (says the guy who survived four years at university surviving on a pretty stead diet of Ramen noodles). But at most it is the government’s job to keep you from starving, not to supply you with treats. Don’t like surviving for years on blandness? Fine. Get a job. And instead of food stamps being used on crap junk food, food loaf is nutritionally balanced, and few people are likely to eat much more of it than they have to. America’s problem of fat poor people might finally begin to abate.

Unlike food stamps, free food loaf would seem to be immune from corruption and scams. First off, very few people would actively try to seek it out. Second…. it’s free. It’s impossible to have an underground economy using a medium of exchange that’s freely available to all. While someone might try to score a bag of crack using a bunch of food stamps – because in the proper hands food stamps can be turned into cash – food loaf would be useless as a medium of exchange, since the drug dealer could get his own free for the taking.

Replacing food stamps with food loaf would seem to be a winner on many levels. It would be cheaper. It would reduce bureaucracy. It would be healthier. It would incentivise getting *off* the government dole. It would reduce options for crime, corruption and scams. It would naturally stockpile vast amounts of storable food useful during disasters. And it would separate those in actual need (who will eat it, and be happy to have it) from those who are simply trying to scam the system.

 Posted by at 12:39 pm
  • Michael Holt

    I just read the wiki article. I bet that stuff would sell well in high-end grocery stores. Imagine it changed slightly by being spiced as “southwestern,” for example.

    Hey, it doesn’t say whether it’s kosher…

  • Kernalsander

    Great idea! Hopefully something of this sort goes into effect.

  • People who need to keep Kosher, Catholics who can’t eat meat, and people with other dietary restrictions- well, they can seek out private charities like their church.

    If the church requires that you only eat certain foods, then the church can supply it.

  • admin

    Food loaf can be made in vegetarian as well, but I’d be hesitant about making more than two – maybe three – total varieties.
    1: Standard
    2: Vegetarian
    3: Kosher/Halal/Catholic (standard minus pig + cow meat, only fish and, say, rat)

    And I’d be hesitant about #3. Perhaps make 1 and 2 permanently, and constantly rejigger #3, “Specialty Ethno-religious Food Loaf,” by taking out an item at a time as groups complain. In the end it might wind up being a solid brick of rice, dunno.

    Any more than that, and it defeats the purpose.

  • Jason Bontrager

    Nitpick: you left an “i” out of the title. Otherwise I like the idea. I suspect more people than just the indigent *would* take advantage though. Dieters, people looking to save some money (one month of grocery bills can be a pretty chunk of change), anyone with seasonings…you might even get spin-off industries making “Flavor Pastes” for such food loaves. Something like peanut butter, but designed to complement the taste of food loaves.

  • admin

    > Nitpick: you left an “i” out of the title.

    And an “r” as it turns out. Yer lucky *any* of it was spelled correctly… on top of my usual sucko spelling, my typing hand is basically out of commission.

    > you might even get spin-off industries making “Flavor Pastes” for such food loaves

    More the better.

    I imagine food loaf might make a useful major additive in many soups. But so long as the government takes it upon itself to feed people, it should feed them nutritious food. And I can’t imagine that *any* soup made with food loaf would be less nutritious than a bag of Doritoes and a Mr. Pibb.

  • joel

    May you never be hungry.

  • admin

    Been hungry. Still remember the Gubmint Cheese we subsisted upon in the late 1970s. Terrible stuff. But, it was food. Not good food, certainly not as good as food loaf.

  • Jim

    W.F. Buckley tried to promote a similar solution back in the ’60s. The “free” food would be based on bulgar wheat. Think I’ll try to retrieve his work and write someting about it.

  • Pat Flannery

    Food Loaf sounds a little too much like Soylent Green to suit me. 😀
    Of course if we were to grind the poor up and _turn them into_ food, two birds could be killed with one stone. I expect Fox News to endorse this concept sometime in the next few weeks.
    If cattle can be made to grow faster via feeding them material made from cattle leftovers from the slaughter house, it should work for people too.
    What could have exactly the right combo of vitamins and proteins for the human body…like a ground-up human body?
    Meanwhile, Jamestown, a city of 15,000, is about to get a whole bunch of new citizens…as in 550 Somali families:
    I think we all know what happens next:
    1.) The mosque goes up, and the town gets to hear prayer call five times a day.
    2.) Our big concrete buffalo gets destroyed as an affront to Allah.
    3.) Fishing boats on Jamestown Reservoir get seized and held for ransom.
    4.) City Council must now operate under Sharia Law. New female mayor stoned to death.
    5.) Local Dairy Queen introduces new flavors of ice cream, including “Locust”, “Snake”, and “Monkey”. 😉
    Frankly, I’m keen to see how this grand social experiment pans out; I think the Somalis should try to assimilate ASAP, lest a hunting season be enacted against them.
    First step in that assimilation will be to jettison their traditional African garb in favor of blue jeans and a T-shirt with something dim-witted written on it, so as to blend in with the all-white populace.
    Step 2: All-Somali honky tonk band…first hit: “Get Along Little Sand Vipers, It’s Into The Pot For You”. B-side:”My Little Burqa Babe”.
    Step 3: Bye-bye Islam; hello Lutheranism. Weekly cleaning of AK-47 to be replaced by weekly making of apple kuchen for church pot luck dinner.
    North Dakota has a hidden secret weapon up its sleeve in this assimilation battle also – winter.
    One of the key tenants of Islam is no drinking of alcohol…around the time the blizzard goes into its third day, they are going to drinking heavily, just like everyone else. 😉

  • Pat Flannery

    That cheese the government puts out tastes like soap.
    It makes Velveeta look like the gourmet’s choice. 😀
    “Bulgar Wheat”?
    Is that something like Quadrotriticale? 😉
    Professor Magnus Pyke came up with a idea for making food directly out of crude oil – by breeding a yeast that would eat it and then itself be edible.
    Unfortunately, with today’s oil prices, the individual who could figure out a way to make crude oil out of wheat might come out financially ahead of doing it the other way around.
    Magnus had another interesting food idea once…donated whole human blood goes bad after a period of time and has to be thrown out…what if…we turned it into black pudding and used it to feed the poor?
    I’m not making this up:
    Whoops! Time to see Barbara Crampton get warped by the Resonator and dress up in her sexy-as-hell leather fetish outfit in “From Beyond”.
    She may only be a “B” actress, but she’s got an “A” class body and face on her.
    This is the only movie that includes a scene of a Chthonian flying down a staircase, although I’ll be looking at stare-case Babs as she gives the whole male audience a crotch-cramp.
    Right now, she’s got that whole white-dress-and-glasses routine going that Kim Basinger used so well in “Batman”.
    “I have to _see_ more…_feel_ more!”
    Yes, Babs…and so do we!
    Oh-oh! Dhole in the lab-room! Watch out!
    I love that Resonator…a superb cross between a Tesla coil, plasma ball, and glowing tuning forks.

  • jcmiller

    “prisoners with behavioral problems (which would seem to be pretty much all prisoners… if they didn’t have behavioral problems, what are the chances they’d be prisoners?)”

    Have you *seen* some of the things that are felonies these days?

  • Pat Flannery

    I’ll bet building a Resonator that brings beings in from a parallel universe and causes people to have a prehensile pineal gland grow out of the center of their foreheads is one of them.
    If not, it should be.
    As Professor Kingsfield said in the “Paper Chase” TV series: “This is not about right or wrong, Mr. Hart…it’s about things growing out of our foreheads.”
    It was only then that Hart realized that enrolling in Miskatonic University’s law curriculum was going to be far more interesting than anything he would have ever encountered at Yale or Harvard, as it involved not _corporate_ law, but rather, _corporeal_ law.

  • Jason Bontrager

    Original proposal has been forwarded to my Congress-critters.

  • Jim

    I like the idea of rewarding the productive, and shunning the lazy and useless. If this is a step in that direction, then I’m all for it. I did the college thing too, I know what a monotonous diet (and being bony as a resut) feels like.


  • admin

    > I know what a monotonous diet (and being bony as a resut) feels like.

    Hmmm. In my case, a bland, repetative, dirt-cheap carbohydrate diet did *not* lead to anything that clould be considered “bony.”

  • Bernard

    Pat, the Minneapolis experiment in Somali expats doesnt’ seem to have gone all that well. Winter doesn’t seem to be much of an assimlator.

  • admin

    A northern winter does not seem like the kind of thing that would lead to social mixing on a large scale, but instead to people hunkering down in their separate little fortresses.

  • Sean From Edwards

    I love this idea so much it hurts, I say extend it to all prisoners, feed it to all of them, they are prisoners they are suppossed to be getting punished, not living in the lap of luxury. Also serving food loaf, for free, to the poor would probably convince many to get off their lazy duffs and back to work.

  • Pat Flannery

    I’ll give updates regarding how all this goes with the Somalis, but I can guarantee you it’s going to be one strange trip for the town.
    Apparently, a lot of the families are going to be living around two blocks or so from me in newly built apartment complexes.
    Long time back, there were some South Vietnamese families that came here as the war went down the tubes.
    One of the most amusing and charming things I’ve ever seen in my entire life were these two little Vietnamese girls walking to primary school in winter, dressed so heavily against the cold in giant shiny pink parkas that they looked like a couple a semi-mobile three-foot-diameter and four-foot-high spheroids waddling slowly forward down the sidewalk.
    Picture the pet alien out of “Dark Star” being dipped in metallic pink dye and wearing Moon Boots, and it will be a near-perfect replica of their appearance.
    From what I’ve heard, after living here for six months they can then move to wherever in the US they want.
    About the time that first big blizzard hits, I suspect that somewhere around two blocks from Ground Zero in NYC is going to look really attractive.
    One must remember that these are _Somalis_; Newt Gingrich gets on their case, and he’s going to find that his head, torso, and testicles can be in three widely separated points at the same time.
    As to what happens to his arms and legs; well… “bush meat” is where you find it in Africa, and salamanders are edible you know.

  • Julius

    You’re forgetting that Nutraloaf, like any other food, can be flavored after the fact. Just for instance, there are very few foods, in my opinion, that are not rendered more palatable with a few drops of Sriracha sauce. Or soy sauce. Or any kind of sauce or seasoning you’d care to name.

    Nutraloaf sounds no more cruel than tofu, which is similarly bland in the absence of sauce or seasoning. And yet, people keep buying tofu. Wonder of wonders!

  • admin

    > You’re forgetting that Nutraloaf, like any other food, can be flavored after the fact.

    Hardly forgetting. Note that this was raised By Jason on Aug. 21. The important thing is, the flavoring will be up to those eating it, not those providing it (the taxpayers).

    • Chloe

      I think he was talking to the people complaining that this was cruel. “Don’t like the idea? You can still flavor it. Some tabasco/sriracha/enchilada sauce/taco seasoning/ramen flavor pack/soy sauce/piles of salt & pepper (pretty much whatever you can find.)” Because the problem with Nutraloaf isn’t that it tastes bad, it just doesn’t taste. Like ANYTHING. AT ALL. 13 ingredients and all are cancelled out. That’s the beauty of using it as punishment, it’s not cruel, or bad, it’s neutral.

      • Chloe

        *Punishment for misbehaving inmates in prisons, I mean.

  • Erica

    You are brilliant! I love this idea.

  • Meri

    The hell man.. you realise not everyone getting food stamps does this shit?

    Hell, I’m on disability and strapped for cash, and I can’t even GET food stamps… Half the time I’m lucky to be eating.

    Granted, if they’re buying water and dumping it to get the 24 bucks to go buy crack with, then yeah, feed em shittyloaf. But leave the legitimate crowd outta this! I shouldn’t have to be force fed something that probably costs more to make than what I spend on food in a week.

  • admin

    > I can’t even GET food stamps… Half the time I’m lucky to be eating.

    Then if you think about it, my plan would be *better* for you. My idea is that the food loaf is *free* for the asking for *everyone.* Don’t need to apply for food stamps, you just need to go get it (or have someone get it for you).

    > I shouldn’t have to be force fed something

    There’s no suggestion of force feeding *anyone* *anything.* The only “force” that’s employed in this area is what’s being employed *now,* where taxpayers are forced under penalty of prison to part with their money to provide for a system that is massively flawed and vastly bureaucratic.

    > probably costs more to make than what I spend on food in a week

    Food loaf, when produiced by the kiloton, would probably be the cheapest form of nutritious food known to man. One thing that US does not have a shortage of is food production capability. A pretty good chunk of the needed food loaf could probably be made from the excess food that is currently wasted/left to spoil/recycled.

  • freeloafer

    Thanks for the great inspiration! I get food stamps, and I get disability! I sit and look at blogs like yours on the internet all day when I’m not surfing other types of P r 0 n
    and could use the extra cash from the bottled water scam to put gas in my Cadillac!
    Brilliant!! Thanks again!

  • msr

    You’re a bad person, and you should feel bad. Your racism and classism is what’s wrong with America, not giving food stamps to the poor. Please reevaluate your live and grow up.

  • admin

    > Your racism and classism is what’s wrong with America

    I must admit, this is another one of those “Poe’s Law” cases where I can’t tell if this is brilliant satire, or legitimate derptitude.

    Assuming this is legit… well, it seems that the racism is on *your* side. You are, after all, apparently making the presumption that people of some race or other simply cannot get by without the handouts of others… that people of whatever race you have in mind are less able, less hard-working, less intelligent than others.

    You give MLK a sad.

  • Brit

    Hmmmm. Suggesting that this is racist is, in and of itself, racist. No where in this blog does it mention anyone’s race. You are imagining it, and to think that you would automatically assume that he is talking about people of any particular race would make *you* the racist. I think all prisoners should get nutraloaf, but I’m not totally sold on them being a food stamp replacement. the WIC program probably gets abused but is more like what actual poor people who are trying to dig themselves out of a whole or who are disabled should get. It’s basically milk, juice, rice, beans, peanut butter, cheese, and I think that’s about it. You should have to take some kind of qualifying exam though to get access to those foods. If you don’t pass (i.e. long rap sheet), you get nutraloaf instead.