Katie Pavlich

Are Food Stamps Just a Modern Day Soup Kitchen? That's the argument being made by liberal economist and New York Times Columnist Paul Krugman, the guy MoveOn.org wanted to replace Timothy Geithner as Treasury Secretary.

“We have in some ways made things more civilized, but also more invisible,” Krugman said Friday during an interview with Bill Moyers on “Moyers & Company” on PBS.

“Somebody said that food stamps are the soup kitchens of the modern Depression, that there are a lot of people who would be standing in line to get that soup who are instead – and it’s a good thing – who are instead getting – I guess now called SNAP Supplementary Nutrition Assistance Program, who are getting those debit cards and are getting essential food stuffs, and they’re at the grocery store and they look like anybody else,” Krugman said.

“But the fact of the matter is they are still as desperate. They are getting by day to day with aid of a trickle of government aid just like the people who are standing in line in the soup kitchens in the 30s, but they’re not visible,” Krugman continued. “We don’t have guys selling apples on the street corners, partly because city licensing wouldn’t allow that any more.

Krugman has a semi-valid point here however, he fails to mention the abuse that goes on within the food stamp program. Just two weeks ago the New York Post exposed welfare receipients who were using their EBT cards at strip clubs, porn shops and to buy alcohol.

They’re on the dole — and watching the pole.

Welfare recipients took out cash at bars, liquor stores, X-rated video shops, hookah parlors and even strip clubs — where they presumably spent their taxpayer money on lap dances rather than diapers, a Post investigation found.

A database of 200 million Electronic Benefit Transfer records from January 2011 to July 2012, obtained by The Post through a Freedom of Information request, showed welfare recipients using their EBT cards to make dozens of cash withdrawals at ATMs inside Hank’s Saloon in Brooklyn; the Blue Door Video porn shop in the East Village; The Anchor, a sleek SoHo lounge; the Patriot Saloon in TriBeCa; and Drinks Galore, a liquor distributor in The Bronx.

The state Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA), which oversees the “cash assistance program,” even lists some of these welfare-ready ATMs on its Web site.

One EBT machine is stationed inside Club Eleven, an infamous Hunts Point jiggle joint known as much for its violent history as its girls in pink thongs.

Club Heat, another Bronx strip club that dispenses EBT cash, is also no stranger to violence. A 33-year-old woman was fatally shot in the head outside the club in December 2011.

Welfare recipients receive food stamps and cash assistance under the federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program. Both benefits are accessed through an EBT card, but only cash assistance — meant for housing, utilities and household necessities — can be accessed at ATMs.

Food stamps might be a way for some people get something to eat, but soup kitchens are much more effective at getting people what they really need: food.


Katie Pavlich

Katie Pavlich is the News Editor at Townhall.com. Follow her on Twitter @katiepavlich. She is a New York Times Best Selling author. Her new book Assault and Flattery: The Truth About the Left and Their War on Women, will be published on July 8, 2014.

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Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography