Saturday, March 30, 2013

According To Democrats, Woonsocket, Rhode Island Should Be Prosperous

While most of Christendom is looking forward to celebrating the resurrection of Our Savior tomorrow, the Rhode Island city of Woonsocket is looking a little further ahead to “Uncle Sam Day,” which will arrive a day later. Uncle Sam Day is awesome in Woonsocket. And one of the best things about Uncle Sam Day is that its celebrants don’t have to wait a whole year for it to come around again. Uncle Sam Day falls on the first of every month. Perhaps that’s why, around Woonsocket, it’s also known as “Check Day,” “Milk Day,” “Pay Day,” or even “Mother’s Day.” Diversity is cool!

For all intents and purposes, Christmas arrives in Woonsocket twelve times each year, or thirteen times annually if you include the more traditional Christmas that the rest of us celebrate on December 25th. And just as with that fuddy duddy Christmas that approximately coincides with the Winter Solstice, as each month draws near its end, Woonsocket’s stores build up their inventories and hire temporary extra help to handle the shopping season. And after Uncle Sam Day passes, the temporary employees are laid off until the end of the month arrives.

That’s because the first day of each month is when the federal government’s food stamps arrive.

And so, as you read this, the next round of welfare checks and food stamps are due to arrive in just two days and Woonsocket’s grocery stores are working feverishly getting ready for the bonanza. That’s because one third of Woonsocket’s population relies upon food stamps. When the food stamps arrive, it’s party time in Woonsocket.

I cannot imagine a better laboratory for testing Democratic Party economic theories than Woonsocket. After all, we’ve been assured by the Democratic Party’s brightest lights that food stamps are the finest economic stimulus imaginable. And so Woonsocket should be just about the most prosperous city in America.

In October of 2010, then Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi claimed that she knew of no better economic stimulus than food stamps. "It is the biggest bang for the buck when you do food stamps and unemployment insurance. The biggest bang for the buck," she said.

About a year later, Thomas Vilsack, Barack Obama’s Secretary of Agriculture, also tried to make the case that food stamps create jobs: “I should point out, when you talk about the SNAP program or the food stamp program, you have to recognize that it's also an economic stimulus. Every dollar of SNAP benefits generates $1.84 in the economy in terms of economic activity. If people are able to buy a little more in the grocery store, someone has to stock it, package it, shelve it, process it, ship it. All of those are jobs. It's the most direct stimulus you can get in the economy during these tough times.”

What is remarkable is how Thomas Vilsack’s explanation of how food stamps stimulate the economy almost perfectly predicts the Washington Post story about Woonsocket.

According to the Washington Post, the end of every month is when the store busily stock their shelves: “In the heart of downtown, Miguel Pichardo, 53, watched three trucks jockey for position at the loading dock of his family-run International Meat Market. For most of the month, his business operated as a humble milk-and-eggs corner store, but now 3,000 pounds of product were scheduled for delivery in the next few hours. He wiped the front counter and smoothed the edges of a sign posted near his register.”

 “Yes! We take Food Stamps, SNAP, EBT!”

“Today, we fill the store up with everything,” he said. “Tomorrow, we sell it all.”

Woonsocket’s grocery stores make twenty five percent of their profits on the first of each month.

Welcome to Obamaville. And as you might predict (unless your name is Nancy Pelosi or Thomas Vilsack), Woonsocket is not a hotbed of economic stimulation. In fact, the entire town’s economic rhythm has come to depend upon government welfare checks.

But Woonsocket is not unique. Something similar happens in Hale County, Alabama. There, one in four adults lives on permanent disability and the local economy ebbs and flows with the rhythm of their monthly paychecks. Since Obama took office, the number of people who have left the workforce and gone on permanent disability has doubled. In fact, more people have joined the disability rolls than have found work since Obama’s inauguration in 2009.

The data are in: Permanent welfare is not terribly stimulating.


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