The most recent recession, that allegedly ended in 2009, is like nothing in living memory, unless you're a keen minded octogenarian. Mish's reader, Tim Wallace, provided the graph, and an extrapolated estimate that the number of people on food stamps will rise from the current 46 million to about 51 million by 2013.
Extrapolations are dicey, and a linear extrapolation of a clearly non-linear function doubly so.
However that turns out, this does indicate that we are living in strange days.
Wallace notes: "that food stamp usage sloped down throughout the Reagan presidency until it started back up in 1989, ahead of the recession that doomed Bush I, then continued for several more years." That drop was from roughly 22 million in 1981 to 18 million in 1988 - about 570,000 per year. Under Clinton - not mentioned in Mish's excerpt from Wallace's e-mail, usage dropped from roughly 27 million in 1994 to 17 million in 1999 - about 1.67 million per year.
I don't know if either of them was trying to make a political point, but I sure am.
The unknown here is how requirements to recieve food stamps might have changed over time. Did anything happen on that front during the Reagan years?
Update: In comments to this post, Jerry Critter does the leg work on the Reagan question. I've lifted his comment up to here.
Update 2: Here's a NYT article on the history of food stamp usage. And here is an Aug 1, 1981 article on the Reagan budget cut that affected the program.According to Wikipedia "[m]ajor legislation in 1981 and 1982 enacted cutbacks" and "[r]ecognition of the severe domestic hunger problem in the latter half of the 1980s led to incremental expansions of the FSP in 1985 and 1987".
So, Reagan reduced the program and then was forced to expand it again because of too many starving people. At least he recognized his mistakes and tried, even if it was half-hearted, to correct them. He also raised taxes after first cutting them, again recognizing a mistake.
Today's republicans just say "Screw you".