At this point, it's pretty obvious the Republican Party is not full of the country's biggest food stamp fans. Look no further than when they used their mighty power to cut food assistance by $40 billion. The entire concept of the EBT program just doesn't jive with their belief of how the True American Dream can be achieved.
But perhaps what isn't so obvious is the subtle propaganda war they've been waging in the service of poisoning the public opinion on food stamps.
The latest example takes place in Colorado. As you no doubt heard, on January 1, the state officially became the first in America to completely legalize the selling and buying of recreational marijuana. That's right, "Mile High" no longer just describes the state's capital!
What's been fascinating to watch in the time since has been how the open market has reacted. Shops have not yet completely saturated the state, so prices are sky high, roughly $150 more per ounce than their medicinal marijuana brethren. Monopoly-less drug cartels have been looking for ways to respond to the changing economics of the crop. And a whole bunch of new laws are being proposed to create regulation for this new industry.
The latest bill comes courtesy the state's Republicans, who believe that there should be a law making it impossible for citizens to purchase marijuana using food stamps. Which certainly makes plenty of sense. Americans can't use EBT on "luxury items" like alcohol or tobacco, seeing as they have no nutritional value. So, limiting marijuana consumption the same way isn't a broad overreach. The problem with the proposed law isn't the specifications, but the timing of the proposal. See, no one's ever tried to use food stamps to buy pot before:
"There haven't been any reports of public EBT cards being used at marijuana dispensaries."
The GOP is claiming they're trying to clarify this law before it becomes an issue, trying to get ahead of the problem with a forward-thinking solution. But what's actually going on here is their continual demonization of food stamp users.
Republicans still seem hellbent on painting users of food stamps as a bunch of pot-smoking hippies who are too busy swapping Grateful Dead bootlegs and braiding each others' hair to get real jobs and become productive members of society. "See? They've not even using the money that you, the taxpayers, are giving them for food! They're using it to dope up, of course, bunch of dope-heads that they are."
Even though they're not coming out and speaking those exact words, the implication is clear for anyone paying close enough attention. It's Jason Greenslate, Version 2.0.
Now, food stamp users are obviously not just teenage commie stoners looking for a government handout. They're people in real trouble, and they need real help. And with the Republicans still wielding a bit of power, food stamp users are in serious danger of losing their basic ability to eat. (Especially in a reality where food banks are running low on supplies. The only way to stop Americans from starving, then, is to elect officials who will stand behind the EBT program. And that's a hard conceit to rally behind when voters have an image of food stamp recipients as extras in a Cheech and Chong movie.
Don't be fooled by these subtle jabs. People on food stamps might not be able to survive a chillier breeze in the wavering wind of popular opinion.
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