Hear Tom Tangney and John Curley every weekday at 9am on KIRO Radio 97.3 FM
 Tom&Curley
banana AP
John Curley explains how the food-stamp system can be improved by just taking a simple lesson from a banana table at a marathon. (AP Photo/file)

John Curley banana allegory offers fix for food-stamp system

Taken from Friday's edition from The Tom and Curley Show.

I am going to explain the entire food stamp story by telling you a story about bananas and Costco.

On Thursday, there was a big brouhaha because the House passed a bill that would make around $4 billion in cuts annually over 10 years to the almost $80 billion-a-year food stamp program, for a total around $40 billion to be cut from the program. One out of seven Americans currently uses the food stamp program.

At what point would you say, I think the program is out of control? Would one out of six be too much? One out of five? That's what it gets down to, at what point do you say, there are too many people on it.

Right now, we're saying it's OK for the government to feed one out of seven people. If we got to where 50 percent of the people are eating for free, while 50 percent of them are paying for them to eat for free, would that be a problem? Is that the point where you say, hey there might be more people duping the system than are actually in need?

This is where the bananas come in.

When you run a marathon - and I have run many - as you come through, they give you a medal and then you are dispersed into this extra holding area where friends and family can meet you and congratulate you on your big accomplishment. There is a big table of bananas there, and there is a guy standing there who says, bananas are for runners only.

Why do they have to remind people that the bananas are for runners only? Because your uncle, who came to watch you run, is going to come and take the banana. When he takes a banana off the table, he is taking a banana from one of the runners.

Why do they also have to restrict the number of bananas for runners only? Because they have a limited number of bananas. They have a certain number of bananas for a certain number of runners, so what they're establishing is need.

They see the medal around the person's neck. They see that the person has run 26 miles and they establish need.

Here's what I am saying as a libertarian: establish need. Establish need that the person needs it and once you establish that, then you can make this program far more efficient.

What is wrong with efficiency? The efficiency that happens on the banana table can then be repeated right here in every single city across the United States. Clearly establish need.

Because here is what the bill says, the bill doesn't say that they're cutting and taking food out of people's mouths. What the bill says is rather than us writing a blank check, state of Washington, we're going to ask you to do this: please make it a little harder for people to cheat the system. That is where the savings will come in.

If you are dependent only upon yourself, you have no kids dependent upon you, and you can work, then they're asking for this: work. Either do 20 hours of work or you can get into a job training program that the government will setup for you. Either way it is, it just can't be a free handout.

The federal government, Congress and the Republicans that put it forward, are asking for a better job to be done in establishing need.

The way it is set up now, it's the Coscto lady at the end of the aisle handing out mini weenies. She doesn't give a crap whether you take 10, 30, 40. Her day is 8 hours long and when she runs out of weenies, she reaches down and she gets more weenies. She has absolutely no concern as to whether or not you eat that weenie and then go ahead and buy a box of weenies. She's just handing out the weenies like they're nothing but weenies, and that's the way we have it set up right now.

Let's fix it for the people that need it - that's the runners and the bananas - and those that don't, let's get your uncle away from the banana table who's just taking it just to take it. Because unfortunately, you're going to eventually run out of bananas or people are going to get mad and say, I'm sick and tired of the entire system.

Taken from Friday's edition from The Tom and Curley Show.

Related:
House and Senate face deep divide over food stamps

JS

John Curley, KIRO Radio Talk Show Host
John Curley is the host of The John Curley Show with Andrew Walsh on KIRO Radio, heard weekdays from 7 to 10 p.m.
ATTENTION COMMENTERS: We've changed our comments, but want to keep you in the conversation.
Please login below with your Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or Disqus account. Existing MyNorthwest account holders will need to create a new Disqus account or use one of the social logins provided below. Thank you.
comments powered by Disqus
In the community
Do you know an exceptional citizen who has impacted and inspired others?
KIRO Radio and WSECU would like to recognize six oustanding citizens this year. Nominate them to be recognized and to receive a $2,000 charitable grant.