The Corner

In Praise of Stigmas

Today’s NYT says that food-stamp usage grows by about 20,000 people per day:

MARTINSVILLE, Ohio — With food stamp use at record highs and climbing every month, a program once scorned as a failed welfare scheme now helps feed one in eight Americans and one in four children. … While the numbers have soared during the recession, the path was cleared in better times when the Bush administration led a campaign to erase the program’s stigma, calling food stamps “nutritional aid” instead of welfare, and made it easier to apply.

Seems like there ought to be a stigma attached to the use of welfare. A little bit of shame can go a long way toward encouraging people to find jobs. The federal government may think it’s doing people a favor by providing them with access to food, but it’s doing them a disservice if it also robs them of the motivation necessary to break free from dependency.

John J. Miller is the national correspondent for National Review and the director of the Dow Journalism Program at Hillsdale College. His new book is Reading Around: Journalism on Authors, Artists, and Ideas.

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