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Food stamps, the brainchild of Secretary of Agriculture Henry A. Wallace, have been an intermittent part of U.S. history since 1939. From the outset, liberals conceived of food stamps as part of the social safety net. In recent decades, however, conservatives have increasingly viewed food stamps as a liability. According to them, food stamps discourage work and promote an entitlement mentality. This line of thought fails to acknowledge that most food stamp recipients work. The low pay of so many jobs in the United States makes it difficult for poor people to support themselves despite working. In this context, it appears rational to offer them government assistance, in this case in the form of food stamps.

The Great Depression and the First Experiment With Food Stamps

The ...

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