I’ve always found it odd that when confronted with a person asking/begging for something on the street, some people chose to be “charitable” not by giving the person what they’re asking for but by giving them something else. Usually the situation is that the asker/beggar is asking for money and the “charitable” person is willing to give food but not money. I guess the fear is that the asker/beggar will spend the money on something other than food, and the corresponding belief is that the asker/beggar actually needs food.

But what if the beggar doesn’t need food. What if he needs booze? Alternatively, what if he wants booze and doesn’t care about food. Then has the “charitable” person done anything other than demean and patronize the beggar? Is this a good thing? Is that what either party wants? The charitable person can, perhaps, feel good about what they’ve done. Maybe that’s enough. A lot of charitable people care more about how they feel about what they’ve done then the actual results of what they’ve done. The beggar has some aspect of his self-esteem attacked (maybe not damaged but at least attacked) and doesn’t have the thing which he wanted. Is he any better off for this transaction?

And so it is that Mark Bittman pens another gloriously patronizing and top-down, nanny-state, let-the-government-control-what-you-eat op ed in the Times. He’s talking about limiting what kinds of foods food stamps are allowed to purchase. Namely, he wants to prevent foods with “added sugars” from being purchasable. The fact that these foods are purchased by those with food stamps is telling. It is also ignored by Bittman.

Who cares what the poor want, here is what I’m going to give them. And they’ll like it and they’ll be the better for it. And I will feel good about myself for helping them and solving obesity.

Right, Mark. You go on thinking that. You keep on your high horse there.

Sheila Beal would be proud. Joseph Ivy would be disgusted.

-JD Cross