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Budget cop Florez takes aim at use of food stamps for fast food
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You can use food stamp cards in the counties of Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Sacramento to buy food at places like Taco Bell, McDonalds, and Pizza Hut.

That’s crazy on so many levels it isn’t even funny.

Before anyone gets on their high horse and say people should have the right to chose, food stamps were designed to help people get by and not live the life of Riley.

Dollar for dollar scarce tax sources go farther with bulk food that isn’t prepared. A Big Mac can run $3.75 or plus tax more. Compare that to roughly a $1 a pound for rice. You could easily get 10 servings for the same price as a Big Mac.

It is odd that California legislators who have no problem trying to impose “sin” taxes on soft drinks and other such junk food to be used to fight obesity have no problem letting tax dollars be spent on junk food.

In other words, it is fine to fleece the taxpayer for “unhealthy behavior” while at the same time it is OK to promote not just unhealthy and inefficient eating habits among the poor but to do so at the expense of taxpayers.

State Sen. Dean Florez, D-Bakersfield, wants to outlaw the use of food stamps to buy cookies, candy, sodas, doughnuts and ice cream among other items. Florez also wants to ban the use of food stamp cards in fast food restaurants such as Taco Bell and McDonalds.

To quote Florez: “We need to get back to basics… and move toward giving people what they need, rather than what they want.”

For this, Florez is being slammed for being part of the food police.

In fairness to his critics, such a moniker could hang on Florez for his unsuccessful effort last year - which he’s expected to revive this year - to slap a one cent tax on soda to fight childhood obesity. In the middle of a $28 billion budget deficit he is proposing yet another specialized tax to address the behavior of individuals consuming legal products that will create yet another state bureaucracy.

Florez points to obesity and other diseases they trigger such as Type 2 diabetes costing society $41 billion.

He’s using the cost of obesity as part of his argument in restricting the use of food stamps noting, “We’re not food police. We’re budget police.”

And that is what makes the argument about food stamp restrictions a horse of a different color.

The state should not underwrite unhealthy eating habits especially when they are more expensive and it involves tax dollars. If the state can dictate nutritional school lunches then the state should certainly dictate what people do with money that they take from one group of Californians to give to another. Simply put, if you are receiving a handout you should have no right to dictate how it will be used and if you are having hard earned money taken from you in the form of taxes you should have assurances the state is stretching the dollars they take as effectively a possible.

It just so happens that basic staples such as rice eggs, bread, and milk go much farther in feeding people. And if you need help making ends meet you should be happy to be getting the help and not taking offense that you can’t use it on junk food even if it is for a celebration.

Does eating the same thing over and over again get mundane? I’m actually the wrong person to ask as I’d argue it doesn’t and offer my eating habits as proof. The real point is feeding someone and keeping them healthy and not providing them with food stamps to secure what are essentially wants.

That is why Florez - in this case - is a budget cop and not a member of the food police.