# How much are you willing to pay to take food from the malnourished?

How much is feeding the poor worth? How much does it cost?

A couple of days ago, I posted a diary reviewing an LA Times column by Michael Hiltzik, entitled The key to a happy society,” which was subsequently renamed How much are you willing to pay for the pursuit of happiness. Since then, I’ve subsequently read that we’ve now cut \$5 billion per year out of food stamps, which is exactly the sort of social program Hiltzik’s column claims produces “happiness.” But, exactly who’s money is being saved?

Food stamps are paid for from income tax, in the following proportions:
* The top 1% pay 40% of our income tax, so they save \$2 billion.
* The top 10% pay 70% of our income tax, so they save \$3.5 billion.
* The top 53% pay 100% of our income tax, so they save \$5 billion.
* The remaining 47% pay none.

Per the data that Mark Zandi presented to Congress in 2008, the fiscal multiplier for food stamps is 1.73, which means that this \$5 billion cut took \$8.65 billion (1.73 times \$5 billion) out of our GDP. And, wages account for 44% of the GDP and, therefore, for 44% of that \$8.5 billion cut. So, \$3.74 billion (44% of \$8.5 billion) was lifted from the pockets of American wage earners and potential wage earners in order to save the upper 10% a total of \$3.5 billion, over half of which (i.e., \$2 billion) went to the top 1%. Note that this redistribution of wealth is now an annual occurrence.

Also, since debt-to-GDP ratio is the only economically meaningful measure of a nation’s debt, and that’s a fraction whose numerator and denominator were about equal, and the numerator of that fraction has been decreased by \$5 billion, while its denominator has been decreased by 1.73 times that much, the value of that fraction has been increased. In other words, cutting food stamps has increased (unfixed) the nation’s debt. Got that? We’re taking food from the impoverished in order to raise the nation’s debt!

This is class warfare. And the 99% need to start showing some class solidarity, or the 1% are going to keep on trickling down on us, while our money trickles up to them. How much are the proletariat willing to pay to take food away from the lumpen?

Photo by chrstphre ? campbell released under a Creative Commons license.