Even Charles Dickens, Englandâ€™s masterful satirist of the Victorian upper class, couldnâ€™t have imagined elite rulers using a box of food as a gratuitous way to slap poor people.
But Donald Trump and two of his slap-happy cabinet officials did imagine it - and then did it. They slipped a malicious, punish-the-poor provision into the food stamp budget Trump sent to Congress.
Instead of providing a small monthly allowance for destitute families to spend on foods of their choice, the Trump provision would take away half of the allowance and substitute a monthly box of peanut butter, canned goods, and other packaged edibles chosen for them by the federal government.
Itâ€™s bureaucratic, patronizing, and demeaning - and stupid. But Trump Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue hailed it as a â€śbold, innovativeâ€ť idea.
Perdue has also disdainfully said that food stamp recipients are hooked on a culture of dependency. So maybe a diet of peanut butter will cure them of that.
Then came Trump budget director Mick Mulvaney, a tea party extremist who bizarrely tried putting a luxury spin on the government-issued box of grub by comparing it to Blue Apron, an upscale grocery delivery system.
But, Mick, get a clue - Blue Apron patrons get to choose whatâ€™s in their box, and it ainâ€™t peanut butter. Itâ€™s locally-sourced, fresh food.
As Rep. Jim McGovern, who opposes the Trump mobâ€™s food-stamp gut job, says in dismay of the administration: â€śMy god, these people are awful. In addition to being totally misinformed on policy, they are really just not nice people.â€ť
Less nice still is their real intention to kill the food stamp program entirely. Trumpâ€™s budget calls for slashing 30 percent of the funding this year.
As watchdogs at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities put it, â€śThatâ€™s the real battle.â€ť The food-box silliness is a distraction to let them pull off the big theft. For more info, go to www.cbpp.org .
OtherWords columnist Jim Hightower is a radio commentator, writer, public speaker, and editor of the populist newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown. Distributed by OtherWords.org.