17 March 2010

Transparent Pathos -and- The Bums Will Always Lose!

It really bugs me when people — especially politicians, of course — throw the word "families" in where it isn't needed to make things seem more sympathetic.  It's never just about helping working people, it's got to be about helping working families.  It's not about helping people prepare for the 21st century, it's about helping families prepare.

Substituting in families isn't inaccurate per se, but it's such a naked attempt to manipulate pathos that it makes my skin bristle.  Today's example comes from the USDA's Food Stamps page:
"SNAP helps low-income people and families..."
That "families" is so superfluous.  It's like the DOT saying "This program regulates the emissions of cars and red cars..."

Why am I poking around the food stamps page? Because of this jackass:

(Via Michael Moynihan)  That's Gerry Mak, and he is happy that the rest of the American taxpayers and I are paying for his organic rabbit from Whole Foods. Mak, an aspiring artist of some sort, is on food stamps because he's "sort of a foodie, and [he's] not going to do the 'living off ramen' thing."

As someone who's done the "living off ramen" thing: F*** YOU!

This guy isn't in danger of going hungry, he just wants more expensive food. And he wants other people to pay for it. He is deeply, deeply confused about what "need" means, stating that food stamps "feels like a necessity right now" and that "Here I am, this educated person who went to art school, and there are a lot of people who need them more. But then I realized, I need them, too."  No. No you do not, you lollygagging, layabout, malingering, deadbeat, wastrel thief!

Mak doesn't not need that money, he wants it.  Gerry Mak feels entitled to other people's money.  You know what I had for lunch today?  RAMEN!  And I splurged on the ramen that's 75 cents a pack, instead of the 5-for-a-dollar kind.  That was a nice treat.  But heaven for-f***ing-fend that I not pitch in to supply Gerry Mak with organic asparagus.

And do you know what the icing on the taxpayer-funded cake is, Dear Readers?  Good food isn't expensive, especially if you have time on your hands to prepare it, like a childless, unemployed artist tends to have.  Many of the best dishes in the world are former peasant foods.

Rarely do I find myself agreeing with The Other Jeffrey Lebowski, but in this case: "My advice is to do what your parents did; get a job, sir. The bums will always lose!"

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Edited to add (18 Mar): In the comments Ben Beatrice seems very slightly miffed that I did not attribute the above photo to him or a company he is associated with, Tacos Avant Garde. I can't quite make out what the situation is because I can't find a source for the image Moynihan used through TinEye nor make sense of the Tacos Avant Garde website, but I don't want anyone upset about lack of attribution.

For the record, while I think I make a good faith effort to link to the sources of materials posted here, photographic and otherwise, it is not my general habit to include photo credits when the webpage I got the photo from is clearly identified and linked to. I don't pretend to have produced the images my self, and I figure that if people want to know who did they can follow the links, and if the don't care who did then posting a footnote with that information won't matter. That said, I wish Blogger had the capability to easily add caption to photos, as that would make this kind of thing much easier.


  1. Hi. I know you're really upset, as we all are by the state of our nation and our economy. Please read my response on Salon.com:


    I hope you'll understand that I, like everyone else, am doing the best that I can during tough times. I have been looking for work for over a year without much success. I don't take assistance lightly, as much as the article implies that I do.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Your personal attack here is useless and you have backed up your argument with assumptions that only reveal your desire to come to quick, one-sided conclusions. I have done the living-off-ramen thing and so has Gerry. If someone can't find a job, they can't find a job. Many, many people are out of a job right now. It is their business what food items they choose to purchase with whatever assistance they might be receiving due to lack of income. You are right--good food doesn't have to be expensive. For the record, the rabbit referred to in the article wasn't expensive, it wasn't bought at Whole Foods, did not happen to be organic, and it fed many people besides. You have also perhaps hastily misquoted Gerry ...a different interviewee in the Salon article is responsible for the "I need them too" quote. Everyone needs to eat, whether they have a job or not.

  4. Grisly:
    You're right it was a personal attack. I was responding to the words and deeds of a person, after all. Please do not conflate the ad hominem fallacy with any discussion of a person's conduct.

    I disagree, vehemently in fact, that it is your own business what you do with the dole. If someone was buying lottery tickets with welfare checks it would be very much the taxpayers' business. Mak was portrayed in the article as someone who was using public assistance in order to maintain voluntary habits, and not for its intended purpose. If that is an inaccurate portrayal, then I apologize to him.

    Thank you for replying to my rant with such civility. I was responding to you-as-portrayed-in-print, not you-in-reality. I understand that such portrayals often diverge from facts, and I apologize for not taking that into account as I should have. Best of luck with your job search.

  5. Hey partner. If you're gonna steal a photo of Gerry Mak, you should at least give a photo credit.

    Copyright Tacos Avant Garde, pardner.

  6. Don't underestimate the grace and loveliness of Gerry Mak: