Talk to me about the food stamps policy...


#1

I can’t decide what effect food stamps should have on socialists. I mean this sort of thing:
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supplement … ce_Program

Which of these arguments sound reasonable, coming from a socialist:

“Food stamps are awesome, as they are, by definition a redistribution of wealth, and reduce poverty and thus are something socialists want”
or
“Food stamps are teh evil, because they merely paper over the cracks caused by low wages and a regressive tax system. They patronize the poor in the manner of soup kitchens, rather than providing them with worthwhile jobs”.


#2

Depends on what kind of socialist we’re talking about; but generally, social democrats (the kind of socialist that was represented in Democracy 2) think it’s a great idea when coupled with a larger welfare system.


#3

Interesting…thanks


#4

Yah it depends greatly on what socialist your asking, if you ask a Marxist-Leninist such as myself, I would call it a handout to local capitalists and we should NATIONALIZE the food supply. A social democrat would have a different view.


#5

Creating a rational gradient is more important than picking the perfect zero point (which may not be possible – because it may vary from country to country).

To a socialist, food stamps should be better than nothing, but draconian anti-capitalist measures would please them more. Starting with a blank slate, food stamps would please socialists (or decrease their ire), but if a scenario began with collectivized agriculture and food distribution, then moving toward privatization patched by food stamps would piss them off.

Compare to proposals that we privatize education (currently dominated by collectives that Americans call “school districts”) and then patch with vouchers or tax-credit funded scholarships. A voucher’s redistribution of wealth would be welcomed by socialists if we were starting from an aristocratic system accessible to only the wealthy and middle classes. However, since America’s schools are already collectivized and now unionized, the socialists (and unionists) scream bloody murder if anyone even hints at reducing the scope of gov’t ownership and control.


#6

I think I don’t need to worry about the ‘what came first’ issue, because the state of other policies (not specific to food stamps) will be included within the equations for those other policies. So all I really need is a positive effect for socialists on food stamps.
If no other provision for the poor exists, they should be happy that here finally is some. if there are multiple other social programs, and food stamps get added in, they should still be happy for the extra safety net. if those other policies then get scrapped once food stamps are in place, then obviously the benefits to socialist opinion from those other policies will vanish, and they will be left just with the food stamps happiness. Not as good, but better than if there was nothing.


#7

Right, but someday you may make some policies mutually exclusive (doing something one way often implies not doing it another). In that case, the socialists would be happier with the higher rung on the statist ladder of redistributive policy. So, when coding the formulas for each policy in a ladder, you’d want to make the higher rungs more positive for making socialists happy.

On the other hand, if policies can be added together, then you would wouldn’t necessarily code them that way. Instead, the policies would stack up, and each could add a similar amount to socialist paradise.


#8

Food stamps could include an effect on GDP. Most if not all research has shown that food stamps offer the best multiplier/stimulus. The rational behind it is that if an individual is living pay check to pay check gets an extra dollar they are much more likely to spend it on essentials (that will have a greater effect on the economy) rather than a high earner who may save it or spend it on luxury items.


#9

I think that it would be something Socialists like. I don’t see a type of socialist that wouldn’t like food stamps, I don’t see much of a reason why they wouldn’t.


#10

As an active socialist I’d say that socialists would be opposed to food stamps in the sense that they are not a socialist solution. They take public funds and direct them to private sources. That’s not to say that individual socialists would be opposed to them on the grounds that they are the best option on the table but in terms of socialist theory they don’t fit.

Also social democracy and socialism are not the same thing. Really see the two groups have a debate some time, the latter considers the former capitalism with a happy face.

EDIT: just to note that it would be possible to mod in socialist policies for this like a socially owned grocery service that exchanges food for vouchers and vouchers are universal.


#11

That makes zero sense to me. The rationale for food stamps is that people need to eat, period.

Economically, putting cash into the hands of a needy person is going to divert resources toward consumption at the expense of capital formation. Since capital formation = productivity, all transfers from haves to have-nots create negative economic multipliers. Some are necessary in spite of those economic negatives, but they’re still negative.

Your fallacy is in the phrase “save it or spend it on luxury…”. Wealthy people have already bought whatever they want to consume. “Unfair” it may be, but dropping another dollar (or million) into a wealthy person’s bank account means more investment (that “save it” that you so casually skip over as if it were nothing). Of course, if you don’t like capitalism, then it’s natural that you’d have a blind spot there. Unfortunately, it’s at that exact “they don’t need it” point of capital formation that a free country creates its productivity, hence socialists’ complete lack of appreciation for it.

If you can find credible “research” to the contrary, then I’d like to see it.

PS: The capital formation I describe is not the same thing as “trickle-down” theory. Trickle-down is the crazy idea that luxury spending leads to high-paying jobs for artisans. It may do that, but it’s still a net shift to consumption at the expense of capital, so trickle-down is fallacious as well. The “magic” of fair-market capitalism is to let the uber-wealthy receive floods of wealth and then convince them to perpetually reinvest virtually all of it in economic activities that benefit the rest of us. Looking at it that way, you come to realize that it doesn’t matter how much surplus wealth someone has. All that matters is how much a person consumes.


#12

This is absolutely true of course food stamps will - over time - have a hugely positive effect on GPD because it will have an effect on unemployment and homelessness. If you’re just scraping by (even with centrelink or the like) and your rent is causing issues for you, food stamps would be a blessing. To be able to eat and not worry about not being able to pay your rent. Food is something no one can live without and when you’re appropriately nourished and more healthy you are more productive to your society. I have no idea if in the short term rich people will get cranky but in my own personal opinion - screw them! What’s best for a country is not always best for the 1%. Unless at the end of the day lowered unemployment and increased productivity have no effect on GPD then food stamps should most definitely have an indirect effect on it. There is no way that food stamps would not increase this. I suspect that to alot of people getting enough food is never something they’ve had to worry about and hunger/not having enough money for food and the adverse physical effects of this have just never crossed their minds.

I also suspect people have very different views on how to “help” a society to increase thing’s like productivity while lowering unemployment and homelessness and increasing general health, well being and productivity.


#13

I think there is a politic discussion here and a discussion about the game.

In theory i don’t think socialist will like food stamp policy
The poor will like food stamps. As they will profit from it
The social democrats who in this game, at least for the European mission, is most likely represented by the middle class will like this.
The socialist will see this as a way of forcing money from the state into private cooperation (food production, food stores ect.), as the common man will have no choice but to use the state money to buy food from private company who most likely are using other people work force to create profit for capitalists. As a very best socialist will see this as a necessity until nationalization of the food production chain.

In game
However some clever guy told me that in D3 each voter are either socialist or capitalist and either liberal or conservative. In that case socialist simply represent leftish economical view and should no doubt like this food stamp policy as they will transfer money from rich to poor.


#14

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fiscal_multiplier

The effect of government spending on GDP is more effective if you put money directly into consumption than if you put the money into the hands of the better off. This is because in that case the government are sure the money stays in society (IE used for consume of food and then reinvested in production) rather than disappear out of the country (IE used on foreign luxury or going abroad for vacation)


#15

A wiki on a politically controversial topic is not credible.

Again, it’s risky to assume that the next dollar earned by a wealthy person will be spent on luxury (consumption) rather than capital. However, as I said above, some people can see only consumption choices because they’re blind to capital formation, even going so far as to see savings as a waste.

I guess that’s why we’re allowed to mod the game. Otherwise the game designer’s own assumptions would limit his market for selling the game.

In my version of D2 and D3, basic assistance (food and housing) will help the poor, making them happier and healthier, which could be indirectly positive for the economy. However, that assistance will siphon resources from capital formation, which in turn will weigh upon productivity and economic growth, which may or may not remain positive (depending on other factors). My challenge will be to set the right balance.


#16

My suggestion would be to have socialists like the food stamp policy but have trade unionists dislike it. That way you’ve modelled both perspectives you’ve presented us with.


#17

I currently reside in Romania, where food stamps has been the norm since communist time.
Yet even after their not so settle transition to capitalism they reinstated food-stamps.

With the consensus seems to be “At least we are sure people are actually buying food with the money, and not alcohol/cigarets/none-essentials (like condoms!?)”.
Actually employers here are forced to give food-stamps in addition to normal salary.

Its quite a different intake on the matter…