But Kaus expands on his point by arguing that a sign of this spreading dependency is the loss of stigma associated with accepting such handouts, and an associated loss in work ethic, an aspect of character. So, Kaus says:
The real issue isn't whether food stamp use goes up during a vicious economic slump--that's what they're there for. The issue is whether, thanks to the justified stigma, food stamp use goes down again when the recession ends.
Gingrich, rightly, worries that it won't. It's a valid left-right point of disagreement. A few months ago, I thought I was stacking the deck when I phrased the disagreement like this:
If you came across two societies--Society A, in which food stamps were stigmatized, with families reluctant to go on the dole even if they were eligible, and Society B, in which they weren't, you would want to bet on (and live in) Society A.
To my surprise, blogger Matt Yglesias of the liberal Center for American Progress immediately chimed in on behalf of Society B, if it produced better-nourished children who became a "better-educated workforce" with "lower crime" and "less disabilty."
Well, there you have a choice. What's America's bigger problem--nutrition or character? "Which future do I want?" asks Gingrich. "More food stamps? Or more paychecks?" Society B or Society A? But not "us" versus "them."Remember that Churchill quote about those who would trade honor for peace ending up with neither? Is it too much of a stretch to suggest that a similar fate might befall those who would trade character for nutrition?