This is your brain. This is your brain on Ayn Rand. Any questions?

Thought the whining of Aravosis was bad? Check out Megan McArdle on the economic stimulus package, and why she agrees with the GOP that food stamps shouldn’t be included:

1) The poor don’t need more food. Obesity is a problem for the poor in America; except for people who are too screwed up to get food stamps (because they don’t have an address), food insufficiency is not.

2) Food stamps only imperfectly translate into increased cash income, meaning that the poor will spend . . . more money on food…

5) The economy doesn’t need a food sector more distorted by daft government programs than it already is. If you want to give money to the poor, give it to them. Even if they spend it all on drugs, it will hardly be much worse than spending it all on increasing their already astronomical obesity rates.

See, if we give poor people food stamps, they’ll just buy food with them! And they’re already fatty fat fat! But if we give them money, they’ll just buy drugs. Which is better, because at least the drugs won’t make them fat.

Remember, kids: she gets paid for these fine opinions. Welfare for poor people is bad, but wingnut welfare? A-OK!

H/T: teratologist, who rightly notes that it’s getting really hard for the Onion to keep up.


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41 comments for “This is your brain. This is your brain on Ayn Rand. Any questions?

  1. abby jean
    January 25, 2008 at 7:45 pm

    This is a bit scattered because I have so many reactions to this.

    1) What I find most humorous about all this is that the Food Stamp program was not initially conceived as a welfare program, but more similar to a corporate welfare program. It was started by the Department of Agriculture (rather than the Department of Health and Human Services, which administers the TANF (welfare) programs and things like Medicaid) in order to help American farmers, who were having a hard time selling their product. It’s been transformed into much more of a poverty program now, but it’s still administered by the Department of Agriculture.

    2) Also, this concept of food stamp recipients as including all of the poor except those without an address (I assume she’s trying to say “homeless”, although many homeless receive food stamps and have post office boxes or other fixed addresses – that’s probably too much nuance for her brain to hold) is infinitely amusing. Most states have a pretty poor food stamp utilization rate, which means there’s piles of people (most often the working poor, often two parent families where both are employed) who could be getting food stamps but aren’t. Why states aren’t more eager to get these federal dollars into their local economies is a total mystery to me from an economic standpoint.

    3) The actual effect of increasing food stamp grants would indeed to help the poor spend more money on food. Which, astonishingly, might lower rates of child malnutrition and lead to better health outcomes from them throughout adulthood. Which would totally save us all money later on.

    4) Maybe the poor are obese because they don’t have access to any nutritional food, ma’am. Perhaps you go to some poor areas and see how many buses you have to take to find good produce. Or walk around and see how many places you could buy prepared food that isn’t fried. Potentially there are more factors involved in obesity rates than a lazy assumption that the poor are lazy and fat people must be lazy or else they wouldn’t be fat so probably the poor are just too lazy not to be fat. ARGH.

  2. Fashionably Evil
    January 25, 2008 at 8:27 pm

    The poor don’t need more food. Obesity is a problem for the poor in America

    Holy shit. I guess we should all just live off our fat reserves. Good grief. I’m glad Abby Jean had a more coherent response because I nearly fell off my chair when I read that line.

  3. Sniper
    January 25, 2008 at 8:28 pm

    Jesus. That she gets paid (handsomely, I bet) for this shit exemplifies everything that’s wrong with our society. Alas, you can’t transplant empathy.

  4. Mnemosyne
    January 25, 2008 at 8:48 pm

    Alas, you can’t transplant empathy.

    Well, there’s always the Ludovico technique, but it doesn’t seem to be permanent, judging by the end of the film.

  5. arled
    January 25, 2008 at 8:50 pm

    Dear Abby Jean,
    Thank you for point 4. Obesity is, often, a result of a lack of fresh fruits, vegetables, low fat protein and conversely a carbohydrate rich diet. When there is little money to spend on food, carbs offer the poor an opportunity for quick energy at low cost. But if the diet is overwhelmingly made up of carbs and sugars only, obesity will often result. The fact is that the poor and obese are more likely to die young from diseases that are easily preventable if access to nutritious food is otherwise available…diabetes, cancer, heart disease, stroke, and, of course, malnutrition.

  6. kiki
    January 25, 2008 at 8:51 pm

    The poor don’t need more food. Obesity is a problem for the poor in America

    Yeah, we want our poor emaciated like they should be, dammit. The only thing Americans hate more than poor people are fat people and these people are BOTH. Add that to people of color and you’ve got the frickin bigotry trifecta.

  7. January 25, 2008 at 9:15 pm

    Six comments in, and there’s already fatphobia/ an OMG OBESITY CRISIS freakout in comment #5!

    Wheee.

  8. Mnemosyne
    January 25, 2008 at 9:18 pm

    Six comments in, and there’s already fatphobia/ an OMG OBESITY CRISIS freakout in comment #5!

    Uh, you’re not under the impression that impoverished people who are fat are that way because they’re well-nourished, are you?

  9. January 25, 2008 at 9:21 pm

    What’s most infuriating for me about that post isn’t the classism, or the disgusting fat-phobia, or its laughably inane arguments, but the fact that McArdle and folks like her are listened to and taken seriously.

    Obesity is a problem for the poor in America […] food insufficiency is not.

    In a perfect world there would be no need to respond to such a ridiculous statement. But in this world, we have to. Inhumanity of this magnitude is deadly.

  10. evil fizz
    January 25, 2008 at 9:28 pm

    The poor don’t need more food. Obesity is a problem for the poor in America

    So the solution is governmentally enforced anorexia until everybody is a size 2?

    Sweet FSM, my brain is hurting.

  11. micheyd
    January 25, 2008 at 9:32 pm

    The only thing Americans hate more than poor people are fat people and these people are BOTH. Add that to people of color and you’ve got the frickin bigotry trifecta.

    And women – don’t forget them! They have super-concentrated hatred for the poor WOC, especially those who dare to have kids.

  12. January 25, 2008 at 9:38 pm

    I used to work in a community where the only place to buy groceries was the gas station. They didn’t have a bus line either.

    Also, what Yolanda said.

  13. January 25, 2008 at 9:43 pm

    Uh, you’re not under the impression that impoverished people who are fat are that way because they’re well-nourished, are you?

    No, I’m not under that impression. I’m just wondering why the “often” modifier was slipped into comment #5. I’m sorry if my comment was confusingly worded!

  14. January 25, 2008 at 9:43 pm

    I know that people have said this already, but since I think that my brain is atually GONE after reading that . . .

    YES, the poor do need more food stamps because then they could buy healthier food and actually LOSE weight. The benefit not being that poor people will be thinner but that poor people will be HEALTHY.

    However, Ayn Rand doesn’t want her precious tax dollars stolen from her by the big bad liberal government, so she’d rather have all the fat poor people that she doesn’t want to look at because they’re fat and poor become thin and poor because they’re hungry, not thin and poor because they’re healthy (I just have to assume that the concept of fat AND healthy doesn’t exist in Rand’s world, since she hasn’t yet grasped the basic concept of human decency). Though I’m sure that she still wouldn’t want to look at them because they’re poor. And taking her tax dollars. To buy wasteful things like food. Instead of . . . I don’t know, something that would make her more money, I guess. That’s it: in the Ayn Rand universe, if the government is going to take her hard earned tax dollars to give to POOR people, they should do it by giving them vouchers to buy Ayn Rand books, since the only person who exists and/or matters in the Ayn Rand universe is Ayn Rand.

  15. January 25, 2008 at 9:48 pm

    I can’t seem to edit my other comments, so: I think my first two comments on this post were way off-the-mark. This is what happens when I start commenting around the blogosphere when I have a high fever.

    That said, this Megan McArdle person still makes me want to bash my head against the nearest wall, high fever or no.

    The poor don’t need more food. Obesity is a problem for the poor in America; except for people who are too screwed up to get food stamps (because they don’t have an address), food insufficiency is not.

    Seriously, how out of touch with humanity does one have to be to advocate something akin to forced starvation?

  16. Mnemosyne
    January 25, 2008 at 9:52 pm

    No, I’m not under that impression. I’m just wondering why the “often” modifier was slipped into comment #5. I’m sorry if my comment was confusingly worded!

    I thought that the “often” was referring to people in poverty who are overweight or obese.

    arled’s comment seemed to be focused on the problems of being overweight and poor, not generalized to all overweight people. People who are poor and overweight will often die young of preventable causes like diabetes and heart disease.

    I’m all for being against fat phobia, but there are a lot of people in poverty who are overweight and yet undernourished who might not be that way if they had access to nutritious food. Are we supposed to block efforts to make that food available to them because we don’t want to be fat phobic?

  17. exholt
    January 25, 2008 at 9:55 pm

    This post is causing a replay of an uncomfortable thanksgiving conversation with an uncle of mine who loved W and the GOP because of the tax cuts he was benefitting from. His sentiments could be deduced from his past recounting of a business visit to two Scandinavian countries which left him with the impression that their social welfare systems were encouraging drunken lazy dependence and destroying their incentive to work hard for their society and themselves. Assuming Megan McArdle’s sentiments are similar to my uncle’s, they can easily be translated to “Don’t you dare spend more of “my” tax money on poor fat riffraff.”

  18. Anatolia
    January 25, 2008 at 10:04 pm

    I read hateful rants like McArdle’s and I try to stay positive and hopeful. There’s always the remote possibility that people like her will spontaneously combust or perhaps be involved in a freak accident involving a cast iron fence and impalement.

  19. Crawford
    January 25, 2008 at 10:27 pm

    The Republicans don’t want the stimulus to include food stamps for the same reason that the Democrats don’t want the stimulus to include making the tax cuts permanent. Both parties have policy items that they’d love to have used the urgency of this situation to ram through the legislative process.

    A cash rebate is a one-time thing, and an expansion of the food stamp program is not. That is why the Republicans preferred to structure it this way. The Republicans retreated very quickly from the position that rebates should be for people who paid federal income taxes. The Democrats unquestionably extracted more concessions on this, and that is a real statement of how weak the White House is right now.

  20. Amerith
    January 25, 2008 at 10:32 pm

    I grew up on food stamps. Of course people on food stamps are fat. I was. They don’t get enough stamps to buy healthy food. $3 a day gets you fake food stuffed with fat, sugar, salt, and calories with no nutrition, but you use your food stamps for that anyway because it’s all your kids have to eat. If the economic stimulus package contained food stamps benefits they could buy healthier food or use the cash they usually use for food when the food stamps don’t go far enough to pay bills or buy clothes for there kids.

  21. kali
    January 25, 2008 at 10:39 pm

    I couldn’t get over how catastrophically stupid you’d have to be to write her point 1, so I went over to the link. Even her commenters picked up on it right away and she is defending herself in the comments… and says this.
    whatever causation there is in the link between income and obesity almost certainly runs the other way
    It’s Friday night, and also I think my brain might have melted at some point while reading her post, so I’m not sure I’ve got her meaning correct here: but I really think she is seriously saying that fat people are poor because they’re fat, not vice versa. My head hurts now, because I find myself wanting to simultaneously argue with this ridiculous proposition, question whether she could actually have really meant this, wonder what her proposed mechanism for fatness causing mass poverty is (like, is it supposed to be a signal to employers that you’re lazy and have no self discipline?)… and, gah.
    Derren Brown talks about how if you’re being threatened or in danger a good strategy is to say something totally surreal, because it will throw the person threatening you off balance mentally, and give you a chance to take control. I think it would probably work for criminals as well as victims. You could have burgled my house while I was reading that trainwreck. You could have driven a truck right up to the door and got a bunch of guys in black balaclavas to start carrying away my furniture and I would still have been frozen in disbelief, staring slack jawed at the screen with that blog on it. It’s a weird talent, to be able to have that effect on a person. Maybe that’s how she gets people to take her seriously– being so blithely and two dimensionally stupid that your brain rejects what it’s seeing and starts an argument with itself, and then people mistake this mental mugging for being intellectually stimulated.

  22. zuzu
    January 25, 2008 at 10:40 pm

    Crawford, the expansion of food stamps was to be temporary, just as the expansion of unemployment benefits was to be.

    In both cases, if the goal is economic stimulus, it makes more sense to do that than make the Bush tax cuts for the rich permanent. And costs a hell of a lot less.

  23. Bitter Scribe
    January 25, 2008 at 10:44 pm

    Don’t forget the prisons and workhouses, Megan.

    Fun fact about food stamps: Even though it’s a federal program, you can only spend them in the state they’re issued in. My sister, who moved back home with my mother because she can’t afford to live in New York any more (and also to look after Mom, who’s 87), had several hundred dollars worth that she had to spend before she left NY. She ended up buying the most expensive, luxury items she could—gourmet coffee, chocolate truffles, etc.—and shipping them here. She got some really hateful looks while she was buying the stuff. Who knows—maybe news of her purchases will trickle into the right-wing blogosphere. (“Welfare queen buys chocolate truffles with food stamps!”)

  24. abby jean
    January 25, 2008 at 10:56 pm

    Bitter Scribe: Oooh! If she’d only had a mink coat and been driving a cadillac, she would have embodied the fictional justification for the welfare reform of 1995! Thanks, Bill!

  25. Crawford
    January 25, 2008 at 11:13 pm

    Crawford, the expansion of food stamps was to be temporary, just as the expansion of unemployment benefits was to be.

    In both cases, if the goal is economic stimulus, it makes more sense to do that than make the Bush tax cuts for the rich permanent. And costs a hell of a lot less.

    Well, an expansion of an established program, even if ostensibly temporary would be more difficicult to roll back in practice.

    Presumably, if the stimulus included an expansion, and the Democrats introduced a bill next year to continue the expanded program, that would be more difficult to block than if a cash check went out this year, and the Democrats attempted to expand food stamps next year.

    Personally, I would support an expansion of food stamps over cash payments to people who did not pay federal income taxes last year.

  26. January 25, 2008 at 11:14 pm

    It’s Friday night, and also I think my brain might have melted at some point while reading her post, so I’m not sure I’ve got her meaning correct here: but I really think she is seriously saying that fat people are poor because they’re fat, not vice versa. My head hurts now, because I find myself wanting to simultaneously argue with this ridiculous proposition, question whether she could actually have really meant this, wonder what her proposed mechanism for fatness causing mass poverty is (like, is it supposed to be a signal to employers that you’re lazy and have no self discipline?)… and, gah.

    Actually, size-acceptance people have said things like that for years — not that it’s justifiable that employers have that kind of prejudice against fat people, only that many of them certainly do. From Shadow on a Tightrope, a seminal size-acceptance anthology from the 1980s: “If you have two heads, they don’t make you president of the bank.”

    And it’s only gotten worse since then. People routinely don’t get hired for jobs they are qualified for, even jobs they have been highly educated and trained to do, because of their weight — either they are simply rejected outright or a thinner competitor was chosen even when the fat person had better qualifications.

    Hell, a lot of the time fat girls, especially, don’t get to go to college, largely because their families don’t think the girls are “worth” sending.

    But your basic point, that McAsswipe is an ardle, is inarguable. Certainly even if every single person was thin, there’d be just as many people in need of public assistance as there are now.

  27. zuzu
    January 25, 2008 at 11:19 pm

    Well, an expansion of an established program, even if ostensibly temporary would be more difficicult to roll back in practice.

    Yeah, kinda like those Bush tax cuts.

  28. lilacsigil
    January 25, 2008 at 11:20 pm

    I think my brain just melted and ran out my ears. Yay, I’ve lost 3 pounds! *sob*

  29. sophonisba
    January 25, 2008 at 11:30 pm

    YES, the poor do need more food stamps because then they could buy healthier food and actually LOSE weight.

    Well, no. The poor need more food stamps so that they can buy more food, eat more regularly, and be better nourished, actually, your and McCardle’s worries about their dastardly fatness notwithstanding.

  30. zuzu
    January 25, 2008 at 11:34 pm

    That’s what she said in the next sentence, sophonisba. Don’t compare her to McArdle just because you want to cherry-pick quotes.

  31. kali
    January 25, 2008 at 11:38 pm

    Actually, size-acceptance people have said things like that for years — not that it’s justifiable that employers have that kind of prejudice against fat people, only that many of them certainly do.

    Oh, I know that. And that wasn’t McArdle’s explanation of her statement, that was me trying to figure out what the hell she was thinking. That’s part of why I got all tied up in mental knots because there was a tiny possibility of some truth among her crap, like an inverse pearl.
    But employer discrimination against fat people isn’t enough to explain the scale of the correlation between fatness and poverty. It doesn’t explain why poor children are obese, for example. So it’s not that there is no causation going in that direction– it’s that she said whatever causation there is in the link between income and obesity almost certainly runs the other way, ie no causation from poverty to obesity.

    Which is fucking insane. Maybe she thinks that fat=lazy=poor? But if that is her hypothesis, she’s said it wrong– that’s not causation from fat to poverty, that’s a third variable causing both. Plus, if she thinks that, it’s still insane and offensive.

    And– mental KNOTS.

  32. Sniper
    January 25, 2008 at 11:55 pm

    I reallly think McCardle has fantasies about the American poor growing all bony and picturesque. It would be so Dickensian and attractive. Chubby poor people working two jobs are just so unseemly!

  33. Aura Kitten
    January 26, 2008 at 1:58 am

    McArdle’s post makes me want to puke.

    Since taking my daughter off dairy and switching back to a mostly vegan, whole-foods diet because of suddenly occurring food allergies, I found I spent all of my food stamp allotment for my family in two weeks. My food budget is now coming out of my financial aid, which was supposed to go toward buying a vehicle. :: dizzy ::

    I never realized the solution was just to STOP EATING.

    F!ck.

    What the poor really need are food vouchers to local farmer’s markets… ACCESS to those farmer’s markets (the nearest one to me right now is over 200 miles away)… as well as well-enough paying jobs they can afford the TIME to go exercise! When all of our time and energy is spent working two or three jobs for long hours and meagre pay how the hell are we supposed to stay healthy?

  34. Medicine Man
    January 26, 2008 at 2:16 am

    Jesus wept.

  35. bekabot
    January 26, 2008 at 2:58 pm

    The economy doesn’t need a food sector more distorted by daft government programs than it already is. If you want to give money to the poor, give it to them. Even if they spend it all on drugs, it will hardly be much worse than spending it all on increasing their already astronomical obesity rates.

    Hey, why not do what Ayn would do and cut directly to the chase? Which is to say, give the drugs directly to the poor. Hand the meth right over to that chubby hick chick, because not only will it basically cause her hunger pangs to flat-out disappear, it will also ensure that, however much a waste of space she may be, she’ll be a waste of just that much that space less.

    There’s nothing in this idea that McArdle’s basic premises disallow. But I guess she’s simply not that much of a whaddayacall radical thinker…

  36. January 26, 2008 at 4:14 pm

    Bekabot, you have a future career waiting as a Fox News analyst.

  37. bekabot
    January 26, 2008 at 10:21 pm

    Bekabot, you have a future career waiting as a Fox News analyst.

    I’m pleased to hear it, ‘cuz they sure need a Democrat on their side.

    (I don’t count Alan Colmes. The Donkey’s never been a sacrificial animal.)

  38. Hector B.
    January 27, 2008 at 1:21 pm

    Eating more healthily means eating lower on the glycemic index: more complex carbs instead of simple starches and sugars. From glycemicindex.com, you can see a diet of cola and potatoes won’t make it.

    * Use breakfast cereals based on oats, barley and bran
    * Use breads with wholegrains, stone-ground flour, sour dough
    * Reduce the amount of potatoes you eat
    * Enjoy all other types of fruit and vegetables
    * Use Basmati or Doongara rice
    * Enjoy pasta, noodles, quinoa
    * Eat plenty of salad vegetables with a vinaigrette dressing

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