Thursday, January 16, 2014

ID laws rear their ugly photos again

Man, this one just has it all, doesn't it? Food stamp stigma. Noble-sounding-yet-horribly-discriminatory regulations. David Vitter. Phew!

Photo-ID laws such as this one and its ballot-box counterparts are intended to make life harder for the poor and minorities. Period. They rely on the difficulty of obtaining a photo ID for the impoverished, disabled and elderly as a means of effectively shutting them out of society. That's bad enough when it comes to voting, but it's downright cruel when someone's nutritional lifeline is involved.

As many, many comments point out, this law would make it impossible for people to use the cards to shop for their homebound relatives. So, bravo to Vitter for trying to stamp out that fraud, I guess.

The best part of this lunacy, in my view: The suggestions that exceptions could be carved out for those shopping for others, such as the use of release forms. That'll show Big Bureaucracy! Also fun: the suggestion that each card carry the pictures of everyone authorized to use it, Brady Bunch-style. Then we could really start saving precious taxpayer money! The mental gymnastics at play here are impressive.

Disgust for the poor is misguided, but it's also very strong. Proposals like Vitter's feed into that prejudice. Food stamps aren't even in the top 10 when it comes to profligate spending. So, yes, prejudice is exactly what it is. 

For too many, that's an even stronger drive than hunger.

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