We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Food banks

Food banks provide invaluable support for families on the breadline but the fact they are needed in 21st Century Scotland, as across the UK, is a stain on our national conscience.

So says Jamie Livingstone, head of Oxfam Scotland, in a report on the increase in the use of food banks. Quite right too. That the nation has allowed its state to impede economic growth to such an extent is indeed a stain on its conscience. The nation should probably do something about that. Food should cost almost nothing by now.

The report said changes to the welfare systems, low and stagnant wages and increases in food prices were all contributing to the increase in numbers.

Indeed: welfare makes the nation dependent on an ever expanding state, inhibiting the growth that would make food prices fall in relation to human labour prices.

Of course I am quoting out of context. What Oxfam and the Trussell Trust, who co-authored the report, are really saying is that more state welfare is needed.

17 comments to Food banks

  • Mr Ed

    Charities that believe that the State should make them redundant surely have an organisational death wish (Of course, they want to be co-opted, get the contacts, get the jobs in government but you know what I mean).

    Charities that want to extend the State have an economic (and in some cases, literal) death wish for us.

    Shall we ask these charities if they would rather that we sent money to HM Treasury rather than to donate to them? I’ve just checked the UK’s National Debt, it is north of £1,284,000,000,000 and rising.

    Needless to say, the only charities that I contribute to (directly) do useful things like mountain rescue (wholly private, helped by many State employees, who are not demons, with no complaints about funding etc.) or keep fun things like Fairey Swordfish up in the air.

  • PeterT

    My colleague bought doughnuts to work today as it is his birthday. I never normally eat them. However, they are free and may soon have disappeared. I should know – I have had three and its only quarter past one.

  • Paul Marks

    The motto of these people is (always) “the State has failed to do X – therefore the State should be given wider powers and MORE MONEY”.

    It is actually painful to think down to their level.

  • Mr Ed

    It is actually painful to think down to their level.

    But the thinking is rooted in politics, the rewarding of failure and penalising of success, if the State fails, it is because the Omniscient-Man-God who believes in socialism and more power for the State (the typical political hack complaining here) wasn’t actually in charge of enough decisions, otherwise people would be made to do what is right.

    PeterT’s doughnuts, a ‘free good’, sound like a food bank of sorts. I might be tempted to donate a huge pile of doughnuts to a local food bank and look at the combination of horror and embarrassment on the Food Nazis’ faces as they pretend in full Doublethink mode to be grateful for a high-calorie donation which they would see as a contribution to the ‘obesity epidemic’ whilst planning the immediate disposal of the offending food.

  • Richard Thomas

    I don’t think food can or should be cheap. To the extent that it is is usually from government distortion of the market (corn subsidies for example. An awful foodstuff to be encouraging people to eat).

    The reason I say “can” is that there is the usual population dynamic. Make food cheaper and easier to get and the population increases and food becomes more expensive again. There will be some lag, of course. Artificially make food cheap and easier by confiscating wealth from the productive and you will get an ensuing population increase.

    Now, I’m not against a big population in and of itself. If the population increases naturally through productivity improvements, that’s a win. More brighter people, more and cheaper goods. A better world. However, what we currently have is a breeding program for the unproductive. That’s unsustainable and likely to get very messy.

  • PersonFromPorlock

    Richard Thomas
    June 9, 2014 at 2:43 pm
    Make food cheaper and easier to get and the population increases and food becomes more expensive again.

    Not so. Women generally come down hard against the idea of popping out a baby a year for twenty years, so long as their old age is provided for otherwise. In states where retirement is secure, cheap food may mean fatter people, but not more of ‘em.

  • RRS

    “. . . the fact they are needed in 21st Century Scotland, as across the UK, is a *stain* on our national conscience.

    No! That “need” is not a “stain.”

    Such efforts are a reaffirmation of the existence of a compassionate conscience, which “needs” means of expression of concern and consideration for others. It is to be found as well in the work of church kitchens; the collection and distribution of clothing and many of the human to human efforts that are not intermediated by state, bureaucratic or other organizations structured to relieve us of the “burdens” of compassionate conscience and involvement, however limited, in the misfortunes of others.

    There are those who, mostly unwittingly, who seek to structure intermediations that destroy this sense of connectivity and moral sentiments that have long formed major fibers in the warp and weft of the social fabric of Britain and the United States.

    The conception that there is a “need” to remove or ameliorate the “burden” of compassionate conscience is the real stain.

  • Richard Thomas

    PfP, there is clearly more than one variable in that equation. Population contraction tends to occur in the well-educated middle classes. The unproductive much less so.

  • CaptDMO

    Someone care to explain the distinction between Food Bank, Market, and Farm, to the nice folks at OXFAM?
    Which one incurs the highest logistics/distribution/storage “extra” expenses for “somebody” to pay their “administration” for?

  • PeterT

    Richard Thomas, there is much to object to in your first post. It comes across as just a tad misanthropic. Plentiful and cheap food is a unequivocally a good thing. I do not believe that on balance government subsidies are making food ‘artificially cheap’. Nor do I believe that it will lead to a boom in the population of the ‘under-classes’. And even if if it does then the technological limit to how much food can be produced is far away in the distance.

  • Richard Thomas

    PeterT, you can choose to see it that way if you want I guess. Though as I have previously stated, I view a large population of productive people to be a good thing. I don’t think “people for the sake of people” is a good thing though and artificially low prices for food (what do you think government subsidies do? Let alone programs that subsidize food for people directly such as food stamps) removes incentive to be productive.

    Not that people shouldn’t feel perfectly entitled to be unproductive and reproduce as much as they want. They shouldn’t be doing it on other peoples money though.

  • Richard Thomas

    Just to be clear, if those other people want to offer up their money voluntarily, there’s no objection there either.

  • long-lost cousin

    I’m relieved to see that Oxfam has recognized the need to both end government mandates to burn food as auto fuel, and to end the ridiculous inflationary government overspending.

    Wait, that is what’s happen here, right?

  • Nick (Blame Frenchmen) Gray

    Whilst I am not sure that I would like to live in Hong Kong, it has no minimum wage, and probably has lots of private charities- or has that changed under commie rule?

  • I use food banks. Why? Because I can, as can everyone else who has one close enough to access.

    I am on a pension, sure, but I can afford food at the supermarket, its cheap enough.

    In using the food bank I am not depriving anyone more deserving from their share, as there is so much food that sometimes the bank just piles stuff on tables and invites everyone to take as much as they can carry.

    The growth of food banks is not a measure of poverty, but rather a measure of how much food the suppliers would otherwise throw away.

  • Fred Z

    I have several middle class friends who get stuff from our major local food bank on their allowed monthly visits. They do so because they are cheapskates and out of a serious contempt for institutional and governmental charities.

    This food bank is in an industrial area, has poor bus service (infrequent buses, daytime only) and requires, and has, a large parking lot. For the poor. To park their cars.

    I suspect food bankery is another scam designed to get large and steady salaries to middle class con-men/managers.

    Which is actually a good thing. It is immoral to let suckers keep their money.

  • jsallison

    from Wilbur’s nemesis:
    “Needless to say, the only charities that I contribute to (directly) do useful things like mountain rescue (wholly private, helped by many State employees, who are not demons, with no complaints about funding etc.) or keep fun things like Fairey Swordfish up in the air.”

    Up the stringbag! now that’s a charity I can get behind.