To many liberals, the thing that distinguishes them from conservatives is that those on the right lack empathy. It's not a particularly fair criticism of an ideology more informed by a love of individualism and distrust of collective solutions to social problems than a failure to understand the plight of the unfortunate, but in the case of Florida state Sen. Ronda Storms, it seems to apply.
Storms is pushing a bill that would prohibit recipients of food stamps from using them to buy soda, candy or snacks that she considers unhealthful. When a fellow Republican lawmaker at a Senate hearing on the bill Wednesday pointed out that this would prevent poor parents from buying their children a birthday cake or cupcake, Storms uttered the closest modern equivalent to Marie Antoinette's infamous remark about cake that we've ever heard: "They can have cake," she replied. "You can buy flour, eggs and sugar, and that makes a cake. I make my kids their own cakes."
If this seems reasonable to you, there is a very good chance that you're not a single mom on welfare. Frequently, such parents lack the resources, ability or time to practice home baking.
If Florida were the only place considering such restrictions, we might dismiss it as a Sunshine State anomaly, but legislation seeking to restrict the kind of fare that can be purchased with food stamps has been introduced in about half a dozen other states, including California (though last year's bill here stalled). There are two key motivations behind this drive: a well-meaning effort to fight obesity among the poor, and a mean-spirited attempt to make them eat their spinach because Uncle Sam doesn't want to spring for candy bars. Either way, it's a misguided approach.