Paul LePage: Hungry Kids Grow Up to Be Better Workers-Fiction!
Summary of eRumor:
Maine Governor Paul LePage, who has frequently been at odds with the federal government over food stamp programs, once said, “hungry kids grow up to be better workers.”
Paul LePage didn’t say that hungry kids grow up to be better workers.
That rumor came from Newslo, a hybrid website that publishes satirical stories that are rooted in truth, in December 2015. Each story has “show facts” and “hide facts” buttons that allow readers to highlight which parts are true, and which parts are satirical. The format commonly causes confusion about whether the stories are true or not.
The story in question, which appeared under the headline, “Paul LePage: Hungry Kids Grow up to Be Better Works, Food Stamps Make them Fat and Lazy,” quoted LePage as saying:
“What blows my mind each time when I’m asked this same question is the fact that nobody out there seems to get one simple fact. When you give something to someone for free, it’s not likely they will value your gift. In other words, there is no way that people will want to work more when you give them free food. In fact, there’s a greater chance that they’ll just continue bitching and complaining about being poor as usual, only now they’re going to be doing it with a full stomach. Do you see the difference? Because I certainly do.”
The governor of Maine went on to say that “the worst possible thing to do for a homeless poor person is to offer them a free meal and warm bed,” arguing that “that will only encourage them to feel sorry for themselves and cry over their sad destiny.” He also added that “it would be more merciful to simply take a gun and put them out of their misery.”
“If you’re really keen on helping poor people, which is something I am very sympathetic with,” LePage also said, “you’d be better off calling them names and insulting them, but only as a way of motivating and forcing them to snap out of their feelings of worthlessness.
The story was shared more than 20,000 times on social media sites and made it’s way to mom blogs and discussion threads where it was frequently (and wrongly) reported to be an accurate story.
In reality, at the time the Newslo story appeared, the Maine Department of Health and Human Services was facing federal sanctions because its Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (aka food stamps) failed to meet minimum requirements.
A December 7th letter from the USDA, which manages SNAP, to Maine state officials states, “The State’s chronically poor performance in timeliness is in direct conflict with the application processing statutory and regulatory provisions meant to protect low-income household’s right to receive nutrition assistance benefits in a timely manner.”
So, Maine had drawn scrutiny for the poor performance of its SNAP programs around the time that the Newslo story appeared. However, LePage never said “hungry kids grow up to be better workers.”