At Wednesday's debate, Mitt Romney casually said that if he's elected president, he'll cut funding to PBS -- and he specifically mentioned Big Bird seconds later. Fowl play! That was a serious harsh to the eight-foot tall, loveable yellow bird that has spent his entire career on Sesame Street, educating and entertaining children for 43 years. If Mittens would really give the beloved bird his walking papers, then Big Bird may need to join the 47 percent and apply for food-assistance benefits.
Here are the five reasons we can't let Big Bird go on food stamps. See also: - Debate 2012: The twenty best Big Bird memes to result from Romney's comment - Five new Muppets that Sesame Street should create to teach kids about food issues
5. Bird seed is not an allowed food item.
For people familiar with how EBT benefits work, it's no shock that you can't purchase certain things with them: pre-prepared foods including some deli items, for example, and hot-case dishes like fried chicken. Big Bird not being able to get ready-made fried chicken wouldn't be a major issue, since his diet probably doesn't include same- species cannibalism and what-not, but you can't get bird seed on EBT, either. Big Bird does eat bird seed, and unless his social services case worker can get him some sort of exemption on account of him being a bird, then our hungry yellow friend may have to learn to love other, acceptable foods -- like Tuna Helper and grits.
4. Fresh fruits and vegetables are expensive on a fixed food budget.
To add insult to injury, it's extremely difficult to budget for fresh fruits and vegetables -- never mind the high-quality organic ones -- since food stamp benefits barely cover basic nutritional requirements. Big Bird would have to understand and accept what folks receiving food benefits have to do -- which is view fresh, healthy fruits and vegetables as a luxury only to be had if there is enough in the kitty left after basic necessities have been accounted for. Being deprived of healthful, nutritious options could very well leave Big Bird tacking on some serious pounds, leading to diabetes, high blood pressure and decreased enjoyment of physical activity -- all rotten possibilities for a bird who has prided himself on singing, dancing and even ice skating for over four decades.
3. He can't get energy drinks with EBT.
Popular energy drinks like Monsters, Rock Stars, Red Bulls and 5-Hour Energy shots are also verboten to buy with food stamps, and despite the fact that these beverages aren't necessarily the healthiest things in the world, they can sure help a bird-bro out in a pinch. Bigs is gonna have to pound the pavement in search of new employment opportunities, do well in job interviews and/or employment re-training -- maybe he should consider a second career in wind energy or computer programming -- and having a high level of get-up-and-go is a helluva lot easier with some go-go juice in the early a.m. Sure, Big Bird could drink coffee instead, but he can't pay for Starbucks with a SNAP card, and he deserves better than Folgers.
2. Being unemployed AND on government assistance will make him part of the 47%.
Big Bird has worked his feather-plucking bird-buttocks off since 1969, educating generations of children of any gender, any ethnicity and any socioeconomic status, and a fair number of adults today cite Sesame Street as important to childhood development -- even going so far as to recall the makeshift babysitting benefits of the show when parents weren't around enough to teach them basic social and life skills. It's undeniably messed up to imagine Big Bird and the Sesame Street gang being repaid for their lifetimes of work by being kicked to the curb in garbage bags because Mitt and his ilk don't feel that PBS programming is worth funding. It's hard to imagine any living, breathing human being actively wanting to be part of Mitt's throwaway 47 percent, and we don't like envisioning a future wherein Sesame Street is deserted and Big Bird is making gravel travel.
1. He may get stuck selling them to Cookie Monster, Oscar the Grouch, Bert & Ernie -- and Snuffy.
Being fired and becoming both economically and food-insecure can drive a bird to consider doing things he might never have thought possible, like applying for food stamps, and even selling their value, on the down-low, to others who need the food more than the cash. For 50, maybe 75 cents on the dollar, Big Bird can trade to Oscar the Grouch for some fish heads and frozen burritos, Bert and Ernie can get pasta salad and lightly-seasoned chicken breasts, Cookie Monster can get broccoli and cookies for half-off, and Snuffy can get whatever it is that he eats -- maybe several cases of those 88-cent Michelina frozen dinners.
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And the idea of Big Bird selling his stamps for cash isn't even the most tragic scenario. It's how other muppets might come up with the cash that should keep everyone -- including Mitt Romney -- awake at night.