SNAP becomes P-h-D-pressing

Today, during my (almost) daily perusal of favorite websites, I came across a chart on Mish’s Global Economic Trend Analysis blog created by one of his readers, Tim Wallace: Using US Government data, he plotted the trend in United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service’s (FNS) Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Participation (SNAP) from 1969 to 2011.

Translation? Acronym-o-rrhea aside, he plotted the historical trend of Food Stamp participants from 1969 to 2011.

Here’s the plot — click it to see the larger one at Mish’s blog, and click here to read Mish’s explanation:

Image - Food Stamp Recession Curve

The chart is depressing enough: 45 Million on food stamps, nearly double the number since President Obama took office. And, it won’t get any less depressing if plotted as a percentage of the total US population (which, IMHO, is how it should have been plotted in the first place – click here to see my humble revision[1]).

But, I found a comment posted comments by one “astroboy.20000″ (whose copyright I respectfully acknowledge) even more depressing – especially for those wanting to reverse that SNAP trend:

“I have a PhD in physics and developed a method of testing for a birth defect which was otherwise impossible to detect until brain damage had occurred. At least once a week the neurosurgeons would have me do my analysis to see whether removing part of a kid’s brain was necessary or not. For this I was paid $40K a year. I have three children, and I was on WIC. Humiliating. When I mentioned this to my boss he thought WIC was some sort of trust fund. Unfortunately, my low salary gave the MDs the impression that I could easily be replaced. I was offered a permanent position at $36K a year, which, yes, was a $4K pay cut . Take it or leave it. I had to leave it, tough luck for the kids who would suffer brain damage, but what could I do? Yeah, the import from China didn’t work out. Nice resume, was happy with the $36K, just couldn’t do the work.

Food stamps and other programs subsidize sub-standard wages, pure and simple. I blame business, not the government or workers who are forced to such [sic] on the public teat or go hungry.”

While I don’t agree with his reasoning that assistance programs are solely the result of sub-standard wages paid by business, I surely sympathize with his comment.

However, I don’t know who to feel more sympathy for: Those pediatric neurology patients being diagnosed by the lowest bidder, astroboy.20000′s wife & three children, his (allegedly insensitive) boss, or the fact that his PhD in Physics (a far more practical degree than, say, a Doctorate in Byzantine Studies from Harvard[2]) is only worth about $36,000 per year as a full-time job.

[1]My revised chart uses total population numbers from US Census Bureau’s Publications “HS-1” and “Summary Table A-1” along with the SNAP Participation history tabulated in the USDA’s FNS “National Level Annual Summary“.

[2] Not to disparage anyone having a PhD in Byzantine Studies… history has valuable lessons to teach, and we need experts to teach them. But, physicists may actually provide, or contribute to, innovations that would help the US maintain their technology sector and could ultimately employ thousands of Americans.

Update: Then… I read this. Thanks Mish: Looks like I’ll need more Pepcid AC than I’d originally planned for.

Thanks for reading!

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