Today's Globe story, "Food stamp use soars in Mass," is an illustration of how the media lacks a sense of proportion. Given the ubiquity of economic progress, are we as bad off as the screaming headlines suggest?
At first glance the reader gathers the impression that there are hungry people out there scrapping for food. But further down the inverted pyramid of the story is a useful detail that obviously doesn't fit into the messy and gloomy Globe meme of economic chaos.
The online applications made available in November, combined with the state's eight new satellite offices, help working families and disabled people who might have difficulty going into state offices for interviews and paperwork, officials say. Four of the new centers - in Boston, Lynn, Chelsea, and Fall River - are dedicated solely to food stamps. The state is also waiving the need for face-to-face interviews more frequently for working families and the disabled.Basically, it's not so much that the demand for food stamps has increased because more people going hungry. Rather the rules have changed thus lowering the transaction costs for acquiring food stamps. The incentives to apply for food stamps are now greater than they were a year ago.
In June, the state changed its asset requirements for recipients and no longer considers bank accounts, retirement accounts, or property ownership when determining eligibility.
The downturn in the business cycle no doubt puts a strain on low-income people. However, there is little evidence that indicates a long-term rise in hunger. The bureaucrats have shifted the goalposts to ensure the survival and expansion of the food stamp program.