Because the poor really do have it too easy these days

In a conservative intolerance one-two punch, Rick Santorum gives it to the poor and the obese in a single tweetable comment. The comment came at an Iowa town hall where he explained his plans to cut the federal food stamp program, should (God forbid) he be elected president.

“If hunger is a problem in America, then why do we have an obesity problem among the people who say we have a hunger problem?” Santorum asked.

I am so totally fucking serious, y’all. He said that. Where people could hear. The government obviously needs to cut food-stamp funding, because the fatties haven’t yet starved down to a Santorum-approved weight. Seriously.

It’s a spectacular show of ignorance from a man who obviously understands neither poverty nor nutrition, and it’s an example of the classic conservative thinking that unless you’re sitting in a cold, dark one-room apartment and scrounging in dumpsters for food, you’re not actually poor. It’s also an example of classic thinking–not exclusive to the conservative end of the spectrum–that obese people are obese simply because of an overabundance of food.

A man who’s likely never wanted for a meal in his life, Santorum lacks both the frame of reference and the basic empathy to understand the concepts he nonetheless continues to speak about. He isn’t inclined to understand that even if obesity were caused by excessive eating–which it isn’t–and if it really were a “crisis” in and of itself–which it isn’t–it wouldn’t be solved by giving people less money to eat with.

Affordable health care would help people stay healthy. Urban areas where people feel safe leaving their houses, public transportation, and well-maintained sidewalks would help people stay healthy. Making healthy food readily available in low-income areas, rather than continuing to subsidize corn and other nutritionally bankrupt crops, would help people stay healthy. Castigating people for their weight as if it’s a inerrant indicator of physical health doesn’t help people stay healthy. And literally expecting people to go hungry, because obviously obesity arises from untold riches and abundant food, is not just ineffective but full-on beastly cruel.

Poor people are poor because they’re lazy and unworthy. Fat people are fat because they’re lazy pigs. Starve them and deprive them of any form of physical comfort, and they’ll learn the errors of their ways and bootstrap themselves into health and wealth. Once we’re a nation of Oliver Twists, our economy will flourish and peace will reign across the land.

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52 Responses to Because the poor really do have it too easy these days

  1. Seth Eag says:

    If lack of health care is a problem in America, then why are the people who say they need it always so damn old?! How’d ya get this far, gramps!

  2. Rachel says:

    great freaking post. Ah Santorum, he’s starting to make ‘the frothy mixture’ look pretty good in comparison. Its definitely time to go after his first name, too.

  3. Sandy says:

    Oh, Santorum.

    Rachel: Its definitely time to go after his first name, too.

    I was thinking that too, but it’s already kind of associated with Rickrolling…

  4. tentacle mustache says:

    Rick Santorum is a fucking monster.

  5. wl says:

    If he cut food stamps, then we WOULD have people dying from hunger all the time in the U.S. again. It would definitely make it harder for me and other people on disability to eat.

  6. 10G says:

    Santorum is an embarrassment to Pennsylvania, is what he is!! And yes, a despicable monster. We’ve put up with him for YEARS out here–but I truly don’t think he has ANY chance whatsoever as a Republican candidate for 2012. He also conveniently forgets that the rich are nothing more than parasites feasting on the middle-class and poor!! Hope he chokes on his own stupidity soon.

  7. They just don’t want to understand that treating the effects of a problem never comes close to fixing the causes.

  8. I started to get mad, and then I realized how few people actually care what Rick Santorum thinks about anything anymore. Even among ultra-conservatives, nobody cares what Rick has to say. The time will come, and soon, when his name and career are an end-note to the history of the common noun, and not the other way around.

  9. groovesinorbit says:

    Rachel:
    Itsdefinitelytimetogoafterhisfirstname,too.

    Rachel:
    greatfreakingpost.AhSantorum,he’sstartingtomake‘thefrothymixture’lookprettygoodincomparison.Itsdefinitelytimetogoafterhisfirstname,too.

    Dan Savage is already working on it. http://FunnyOrDie.com/m/5wxt

  10. matlun says:

    Yes, the food stamp programs do ensure that even the poor do not have to starve to death. As opposed to Santorum, most of us would probably like to keep it like that, though.

  11. groovesinorbit says:

    Wow, I need to work on my formatting skills. Sorry about that, folks.

  12. Sabricent says:

    Last paragraph is genius.

  13. MTR says:

    Yeah let ’em live off their fat this winter. Bears do!

  14. Jadey says:

    He clearly recognizes that the solution is to let them eat each other instead. A modest proposal in my book.

  15. Branwen says:

    So, I am comforting myself with the thought that Santorum does not have half a chance in the election. But it’s cold comfort as I am wondering if anyone else who *does* have a chance is plotting the same thing. Anyone have a handy tally we could consult?

  16. mephistephanies says:

    Someone needs to take him to the ghetto and show him the grocery store options.

    Kwik-E-Marts are not a reliable source of nutritional food.

  17. Henri Bemis says:

    Ah, yes. Poor people simply aren’t starving enough! Greater food insecurity will teach’em!

    I hate Rick Santorum.

  18. Thank you for this fabulous post.

  19. EG says:

    mephistephanies: Someone needs to take him to the ghetto and show him the grocery store options.

    Oh, I think that’s way too kind. He’s not speaking out of ignorance. He’s speaking out of a complete lack of interest in empathy or compassion of any sort. Nobody needs to educate him. What somebody needs to do is make him actually work for a living instead of mouthing off.

    The priorities of people like this are completely fucked. If you answer the question of “Which is more important, to make absolutely sure nobody goes hungry, or to make absolutely sure nobody is getting something for nothing?” by choosing the latter, your problem isn’t ignorance. It’s evil.

  20. Angel H. says:

    Mother shoots her two children and then kills herself after being denied food stamps:

    Grimmer, who homeschooled her children, subsisted on child support payments, Rodriguez said. She often relied on food supplied by neighbors and was distraught over being denied food stamps.

    Her application was rejected last summer because she hadn’t submitted all the required paperwork.

    Their poverty stood out even in a poor part of Laredo.

    “They came barefoot sometimes,” said Moises Nuñez, 10, adding that he played with the Grimmer children. “Their clothes were ripped.”

    Yeah, life’s a breeze.

  21. Jen in Ohio says:

    He clearly recognizes that the solution is to let them eat each other instead.

    Not if it’s same-sex eating because that would be immoral.

    (I know you were going for the Swifty but now I keep envisioning a Santorum-induced zombiepocalypse. Man, just when you think the zombiepocalypse couldn’t get any worse…)

  22. matlun says:

    @Angel H: Hardly behaviour I would (even implicitly) justify.

  23. Angel H. says:

    Matlun:

    I’m not justifying what she did. I posted the article because it shows the numerous ways in which the system screwed her over. (How could investigators “not know” she was in need of housing when they saw her and her kids were living in a tent?) What happened was a tragedy, but I do believe it could’ve been prevented if she got the help she and her children needed.

  24. Kristen J. says:

    EG: If you answer the question of “Which is more important, to make absolutely sure nobody goes hungry, or to make absolutely sure nobody is getting something for nothing?” by choosing the latter, your problem isn’t ignorance. It’s evil.

    Okay, stealing this. Anyone have a theory on how to communicate it to the entire planet? Perhaps a really long banner? Tattoo it on the face of Mars?

  25. Jess says:

    When I was a kid, living with my single mother, we were pretty poor. A local church sponsored us for Christmas. They asked mom our sizes, and what we liked. A few days before Christmas we came home to find a box full of gifts on our porch, along with a feast (a turkey, potatoes, rolls etc). They had taken the time to pick out gifts they knew we would like. It was wonderful, and we felt like we were members of a community that looked out for each other.

    Several years ago, I was the single mother. My ex had left with no warning, and refused to pay child support. Courts move slowly, and I lost our house to foreclosure a few days before Thanksgiving. The kids and I were in a tiny apartment…I slept on the couch in the living room, and they shared the bedroom. I had been injured in Iraq, and was still waiting for my disability, so a veterans organization was paying our rent. A friend said that her church wanted to sponsor us for Christmas, and they asked for the same info my mother had given all those years before.

    I hate to sound like I didn’t appreciate it, but the attitude seemed off. The kids were given underware, socks and Bibles. We got several cans of soup, some canned veggies, and a huge package of Ivory soap. I got a book on saving your marriage at all costs. In the end I just felt judged. You are dirty, sinful, and don’t deserve anything nice. I sent them a thank you note, and left it at that.

  26. DouglasG says:

    Ms Kristen – Maybe put it on a banner held up by Touchdown Jesus?

  27. Jess says:

    Ugh, accidently hit submit too soon…

    The point I wanted to make is that the attitude towards the poor has gotten so bad that they aren’t seen as deserving anything more than the bare essentials. Why should they get healthy food or have a nice holiday? They should never have fun, never enjoy anything. To do so shows that they are not REALLY poor. It’s like people insisting that someone can’t suffer from depression, because there are pictures on their Facebook page that show them smiling.

  28. Tim says:

    @Jess: That is very sad, charity that was not very charitable. On your last line:

    In the end I just felt judged. You are dirty, sinful, and don’t deserve anything nice.

    This unfortunately might have been the actual message, even if the donors may not have been consciously aware of just what they were saying. For some people, wealth is proof of virtue and the lack of it correspondingly an indication of vice. This cruel attitude has often been attributed by some commentators (Thom Hartmann comes readily to mind) to Calvinism, which has influenced a lot of our Protestant denominations in the U.S. I don’t know much about Calvinism beyond the Wikipedia-article level, so I can’t say for sure. If anyone knows of a good book or article on the subject, I would be interested to hear about it.

  29. Kristen J. says:

    Did anyone see the feature on MSNBC this morning about the family in CA living on 50k a year? I was looking at the comments (I know, bad idea) and wanted to whack someone in the face. Its not even that “poor” is considered a moral failing these days. These folks are the median.

    @Douglas,

    BIGGER. Bigger than Touchdown Jesus.

  30. Andy says:

    Somewhere along the line a substantial portion of the country seems to have reverted to the belief (Calvinist maybe?) that temporal wealth is directly proportional to moral character. Personally I don’t really give a shit about virtue, people should be fed, full stop, but when did we stop believing that people could be both virtuous and poor?

  31. Kristen J. says:

    Andy: Somewhere along the line a substantial portion of the country seems to have reverted to the belief (Calvinist maybe?) that temporal wealth is directly proportional to moral character.

    A good number (not all!) of Christian Churches have been making this argument for almost a century. Wealth is a sign of God’s blessing.

  32. EG says:

    Well, see, virtuous poor people accept their station in life and don’t cause a fuss by demanding, taking, thinking they should have, or even asking for anything more. So if they really were virtuous, you wouldn’t even know about their situation, because they would just meekly accept their lot and quietly starve to death somewhere out of the way where they won’t inconvenience you.

  33. bleh says:

    Well, if we *did* become a nation of Oliver Twists, our collective grammar would improve markedly.

  34. Donna L says:

    Ah, the Victorian concept of the “deserving poor”: http://dickens.ucsc.edu/OMF/spencer.html. How heartwarming to see it become so pervasive again.

  35. Taliesin_Merlin says:

    Dear Mr. Santorum,

    Before you make comments about food again, I suggest that you talk to any nutritionist, or anyone that works in a field that has to do with food.

    Food is not just this entity that you eat from the time that you’re empty to the time that you’re full. It’s not just this thing that makes you fat when you eat too much of it. Nor is it a thing where “too much” is easily measurable, since it’s not as if our body says, “I’m not hungry” after hitting 800 calories.

    Not all foods are the same, and the more nutritious foods cost more. Actual nutrient-rich fruits, vegetables, animal products, and meats actually cost quite a bit of money, well over a dollar a pound in most cases, and sometimes over 5 dollars a pound. If someone doesn’t have time to fix a meal, then they’re reduced to TV dinners which are less nutrient rich and laden with carbohydrates and sodium. If someone can’t afford those foods, they are reduced to staple foods like rice and ramen. Combine this with a lack of education and/or other options, and suddenly the cheapest options are bags of potato chips, snack cakes, and McDonalds. That’s a diet high in sugar, high in fat, and low in most vitamins and minerals.

    People make choices, and oftentimes it’s the choices they have to make, and not the choices they can choose to make that make them fat. In my own experience, I have the luxury of being able to mix some of these approaches, balancing out the ramen with some actual fruits and veggies, eggs, milk, and a couple of pounds of pork or chicken a week. I get by.

    Considering that obesity is a sign of malnutrition, claiming that poor people are obese because of a moral failing or an abundance of food is the absolute wrong diagnosis. They’re obese because of the abundance of wrong kinds of food, and a lack of access (due to lack of money, time, education, and transportation) to better kinds of food. Cutting food stamps exacerbates the problem of malnutrition.

    Mr. Santorum, I’ll level with you. I’ve never had to go hungry, or choose between rent and food. I’ve never been wealthy, but I’ve never had to make those choices. But I talk to people and read about the experiences of other people. I urge you to take an oath of silence and listen to those you so unjustly malign. I urge you to listen to them, to yourself, and to all the world around you. It isn’t about you, though you’re a part of it. It’s about human decency pursued through a basic understanding of the relevant issues.

  36. Bitter Scribe says:

    This “fat people can’t be hungry” meme isn’t new. Phil Gramm trotted it out, IIRC, shortly before he ran for president and proceeded to set a new record for ratio of money spent to delegates won.

    Gramm was considered one of the biggest assholes in the Senate. (He’s the one, BTW, who helped gut banking regulations, leading to the current recession.) Santorum is considered one of the dumbest guys in the Senate, and this little nugget does absolutely nothing to contradict that opinion.

  37. Bitter Scribe says:

    Sorry, I should have said “Santorum was considered.” He’s no longer a Senator.

  38. Fat Grad says:

    Santorum really does deliver the typical one-two punch here, as morality is assumed with both wealth AND body weight. So we can understand that people who are poor are already unworthy, and people who are poor and have the nerve to be fat as well – WELL! They are clearly, clearly, clearly not doing a single damn thing right and clearly they do not deserve to live. Which is what he is advocating by wanting to take away SNAP. Killing poor people. Because they are poor, and God forbid, fat. It’s nice to read the comments on this blog, less nice to consider how his tweet is being received by the general public.

  39. Politicalguineapig says:

    Bleh: The grammer would be better, but people would have to get out of the way of the rampaging adjectives, and it would take ten pages before anyone did anything.

  40. midnightsky says:

    This is a common misconception — that to be poor, you can’t afford food, so in the end you should be skinny. I used to wonder, as a kid, why I saw so many poor fat people.

    People need to be educated. A lot of maliciousness that we see in the world, is reactions to problems based on ignorance, not evil. It’s much cheaper to buy a Big Mac than healthy food, and herein lies a big problem with America.

    Instead of screaming and blaming, we need to start educating. Blind rage never did anyone any good.

  41. Chataya says:

    “Several years ago, I was the single mother. My ex had left w!ith no warning, and refused to pay child support.”

    There’s your problem. Many churches see the lack of a husband as a moral failing on the woman’s part.

    I recently found out that my grandparents’s church has an application for their charitable donations so they can decide who is worthy of receiving them. Single women with kids are low on the list unless her husband has died (and it has to be husband, no boyfriends allowed). Even lower on the list: Single fathers. Cause men are already the breadwinners and just need to marry another woman.

    These are the same assholes who had to rent out another warehouse to keep all their donated items in.

  42. Branwen says:

    Jess,

    Speaking as a current poor I have to say there’s a huge range as far as charity groups go. Some are fantastic. Some are…not so much, at all. Unfortunately. It sounds like you guys got screwed over by a really bad one and I am really sorry to hear it. :(

  43. EG says:

    midnightsky: People need to be educated. A lot of maliciousness that we see in the world, is reactions to problems based on ignorance, not evil. …Instead of screaming and blaming, we need to start educating. Blind rage never did anyone any good.

    I think you’re being far too kind here, and that this is a mistake that liberal-left types often make. Santorum isn’t ignorant; he just fundamentally doesn’t care whether or not poor people suffer. In the same way, I’m not ignorant; I just fundamentally don’t care about fertilized eggs. It’s not that if we just explain things clearly enough, right-wingers will come over to our point of view. We have fundamental disagreements about values, rights, and human happiness with them. We don’t have to educate them. We have to beat them.

    And I think that rage is far from useless. Well directed rage can be immensely powerful. Ask Qadaffi. Or the Romanovs. Or Louis XVI.

  44. I am absolutely appalled by this comment. How can someone running to rule an entire country be so ignorant to a simple fact? Obesity, like you said, has absolutely nothing to do with poverty and food stamps. Yes, there are obese people living in poverty, however, obviously, there are obese people living in luxurious mansions with all the money they can dream of. Obesity comes from bad health, for example, lack of exercise, poor eating habits, and genetics. Cutting the food stamp program would only make a larger divide between rich and poor, and in addition, be very harmful for many American families. I do not think the candidate has any idea of how many Americans use food stamps. As a presidential candidate, I most certainly would not have stated such an extremist opinion, because it is just that, an opinion. And an ignorant one, at that. Educated Americans will look at this quote and be completely appalled by his stupidity and inability to have empathy for those in poverty.

  45. Marksman2010 says:

    Hey, he’s talking Washington politics.

    These are the same people who cut funding for housing for American Indians.

    These are Washington politics, goddamn it. How many times do I have to say it?

    Starve the fat people down to an appropriate weight, and see if those pesky redskins can survive a few winters inside a teepee. Maybe if enough Indian children freeze to death, the United States can finally finish what it started. Geez, we didn’t put Andrew Jackson on the twenty dollar bill for no friggin’ reason.

    Besides, the U.S. government has more important things to do with your money. There are more weddings and funerals to bomb in Afghanistan, and the nuclear weapons we’ll drop on Iran soon ain’t gonna be cheap. No, the U.S. government has to keep its priorities straight.

  46. stonebiscuit says:

    Rachel:
    Itsdefinitelytimetogoafterhisfirstname,too.

    On behalf of all those named variations on “Rick,” I beg you to reconsider.

  47. Politicalguineapig says:

    Jess: God, what a disgusting thing to hear. My mother was raised by a single mother too, and I suspect that her experience was much the same as when you were a kid, and now? Man, I don’t even want to think what people now would think of a single woman with five kids with huge age gaps between the oldest and youngest. I hate the idea of giving to the Salvation Army now, and I don’t really know how to help in a secular way (other then giving to toy drives.)
    And this is the time of year where I’d actually like to step inside a church. I wish most Christians weren’t like Santorum.

  48. MH says:

    Taliesin_Merlin: “Considering that obesity is a sign of malnutrition . . . They’re obese because of the abundance of wrong kinds of food, and a lack of access (due to lack of money, time, education, and transportation) to better kinds of food.”

    Chanelle Astrof: “Obesity comes from bad health.”

    Am I seriously reading this b.s. on a feminist site? I. Don’t. Even.

    As if the long-established collection of studies showing that fat and thin people do not, on average, eat differently in amount or kind of food were insufficient, we now have a growing body of data indicating the severe socio-economic effects of fatphobia, particularly on women. Poor people aren’t fat because they’re eating low-quality food (though an impoverished diet has major consequences on *health*), but because they face unrelenting discrimination in education, employment, and interpersonal relationships (marriage chances, etc). Fatphobia forces fat people into poverty, and, since body weight is primarily a function of genetics, the perpetuation of fat folks’ multigenerational poverty is the result of *bigotry*.

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  50. Jjuliaava says:

    Branwen:
    Jess,

    I have to say there’s a huge range as far as charity groups go.

    Um no. I would have to heartily disagree to this statement, homeslice. I tried to get help for 6 months for a $200.00 gas bill so I could have my hot water turned back on. I called just about every church or charity in St. Louis metro area. I am telling you that many applications for food pantries go like this : Name_______ Household members_______Are you married? Y/N
    I think it takes a lot of desperation and courage to ask for help for your family. Unfortunately, no church or charity ever did help me with canned goods or gas bills. But, then I am a single mom of a daughter (not a son) never married and I am FAT (my daughter is 25% Japanese so tho she can eat more than me– she never gains a damn pound!)

    Santorum attitudes like this toward poor folks is exactly why ONLY HALF OF THE PEOPLE WHO QUALIFY TO GOVT AID ACTUALLY SIGN UP TO RECEIVE IT. no thanks asshole.

    KEEP YOUR HEAD UP JESS!
    Oh and>>>
    RIGHT ON MH!!

  51. Schmorgluck says:

    Affordable health care would help people stay healthy. Urban areas where people feel safe leaving their houses, public transportation, and well-maintained sidewalks would help people stay healthy. Making healthy food readily available in low-income areas, rather than continuing to subsidize corn and other nutritionally bankrupt crops, would help people stay healthy.

    You forgot a decent lunch pause for workers in your list. It may be because I’m French, but how short lunch pauses can get in the USA kinda freaks me out.

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