The Santorum campaign garnered some much-needed non-anal attention last week when, speaking in Iowa, the presidential hopeful suggested that the food stamp program is unnecessary because poor people are so fat. "If hunger is a problem in America," said professional logician Rick Santorum, "then why do we have an obesity problem among the people who we say have a hunger program?" Exactly. It's like, if homeless people are supposedly cold, then why do I always see them with blankets?
Let's leave aside the fact that people on food stamps probably think of their hunger as a "problem" rather than a "program", and ignore the obvious questions that leap to mind, such as "What are the obesity rates among food stamp recipients?" (Answer: similar to those among non-recipients in comparable socioeconomic conditions, though slightly higher for nonelderly women), or "What's the relationship between income and obesity?" (Answer: it's an inverse relationship), or "Why is the cheapest food unhealthy garbage that makes you ill?" (Answer: because of the federal farm subsidy system). Instead, I'd like to commend Santorum for calling out our nation's scam-artist-fatsos. His comment has in fact encouraged me to submit a bold proposal of my own, one that combines the best of entitlement reform and support of job creators in order to get us out of our economic doldrums. Put simply: Don't eat the rich; eat the poor.
Even though a majority of Americans support it, let's not raise taxes on the wealthy. Let's not increase taxes on dividends and capital gains. Let's not close corporate tax loopholes. Let's not end government subsidies for finance, fossil fuels and other wildly profitable industries. Let's not impose the kind of financial transaction tax that proves to be such a drag on the markets in London, Singapore and Hong Kong. Such "eat the rich" policies conjure a chilling vision of a future where the rich might not be rich enough to game the system so that they stay rich forever. That's not a future I want for my children, if I can ever afford to have them.
"Eat the rich" won't work, because there aren't enough of them. They make up only 1% of the population. Sure, they own 35% of the nation's wealth but, you know, never mind that. Because why should we figuratively "eat the rich" when we can literally eat the poor? The fat poor are a vast, untapped resource just waiting to be harnessed. All we need is the courage to seize the opportunity.
Consider this: as Rick Santorum pointed out, the poor are fat. As Newt Gingrich pointed out, the poor do not know how to work. And, though it seems obvious, it does bear mentioning, the poor are poor. Not much going on there, right? And yet decades of heroic effort on the part of the processed food, television, petroleum and automobile industries have managed to turn this "not much" into something huge, and succulent. It's called adding value. So why be squeamish about reaping the fruits of their labors?
Many of the edible poor do not earn enough to pay federal income taxes, so in terms of the federal budget the plan is largely revenue neutral. Moreover, it will help us make the deep, slashing cuts to entitlements so that we can get the federal deficit -- aka the most horrible problem facing the world right now -- under control, while still maintaining the subsidies and tax breaks needed to appease our capricious and vengeful job gods. It also presents a strong opportunity to increase exports. Sure, China has billions of people with which to flood the long pig market, but the tough, stringy and inferior quality of the meat would ensure that those who enjoy the finer things would demand manshank raised in the USA. Add to that thousands of new jobs for ranchers and meat processors, and you've got recipe for economic growth as well as an interesting new dinner. Everybody wins! I literally cannot think of anybody who would lose in this deal.
The fact of the matter is that there are precious few growth opportunities left to be wrung out of the labor herd, and most observers hope that science will soon be able to replace the entire 99% with a robotic chattel class. The time for Homo Delicious is now. The future is no place for those too timid to devour their fellow man.
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