The need to feel superior to Americans is on the verge of surpassing football as Britain’s national obsession.
On any given evening, a significant portion of UK television programming is given over to reassuring the typical Brit that, though his/her nation may be a dysfunctional mess, it’s still better in every way than the United States. (“Americans are fat.” “Americans are tacky and tasteless.” “Americans are illiterate.” “Americans are religious fanatics.” etc., etc.)
Of course, newspapers are savvy to the British public’s appetite for validation, too. For the last day-and-a-half, Drudge’s main headline has been a link to this front page story in The Independent about our new “Great Depression” here.
The supposed proof of this new dark age is a rise in the number of individuals receiving food stamps assistance–a rise from 26.5 million in 2007 to 28 million now. Not exactly a stratospheric climb off the charts. And the article also mentions another reason for the increase:
The increase â€“ from 26.5 million in 2007 â€“ is due partly to recent efforts to increase public awareness of the programme and also a switch from paper coupons to electronic debit cards.
So actually, the modest increase is due to effective advertising and marketing of the program (much of it in Spanish, I’ll wager). By the way, that 1.5 million increase is also equivalent to the estimated number of illegal immigrants who have entered the United States in the last year and a half.
Finally, if I had the time to research and run the numbers, it would be interesting to compare the percentages of the U.S. and U.K. populations currently on government assistance. I suspect the numbers of Brits receiving monthly payouts from the government and subsidized/free housing as a percentage of the population is several multiples greater in the UK than the U.S..
But hey, readers of The Independent–if that headline makes you feel better about yourself–off you go.
Update: Jim Geraghty over at The Campaign Spot notices that the photo The Independent used on its front page was taken back in 2005.