Living in a Bartleby Age, Part 2

A few days ago, while standing in line at the grocery store, I got bored and started looking at the merchandise in the cart of the customer in front of me: frozen pizzas, pre-packaged frozen dinner, name brand snack cakes and chips, corn dogs, ultra-sugary sweet cereal, diet soft drinks.
The woman in front of me was rather obese, and she paid with her Lonestar card, which is the debit card version of food stamps in Texas.

All I could think of was that scene in _Good Omens_ when Famine came back as a food designer, engineering food that was bereft of nutrition and one could actually starve eating his stuff.

Poor, fat *and* malnourished. I just wanted to grab that woman’s shoulders, shake it, and scream, “Woman, don’t you know that you’d buy more and healthier foods if you just buy *real* food! Godsakes, get vegetables! Get fruit! Get flour, eggs, yeast, baking powder, sugar, milk! Not this prepackaged, high fructose corn syrup, nitrites, sodium benzoated crap! You’re killing yourself and your family, and you don’t have any health insurance when the diabetes, the high blood pressure, the coronary heart disease, and the renal failure happens! Sure, the government is giving you money — *my* money! So, for Godsakes, use it wisely!”

But that would be rude. And so I held my tongue, saw her pay too much for too little of crap, and saw her slouch her merry way.

Yes, the poor will always be with us, and the public good strives to ease the suffering of the poor — but, good God, what happens if they misuse the gifts that we give them? Are we gonna *tell* them how to live their lives? If I were in their shoes, would *I* want some government wonk telling me how to feed myself and my kids, limiting my choices in my personal life, even if I were on welfare? Personally, no. But that means that somewhere, personal responsibility has to kick in — but how to do that in the face of gross ignorance of what’s truly good for oneself? And what if, as I’ve seen in some cases, some of those people are *proud* of their ignorance?

Makes me want to bash their heads against a wall sometimes.

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