The Crumb Diaries (great blog and I follow on Facebook) has posed a series of questions about people on food stamps who then use cash to purchase non-food stamp-eligible items that may be seen as “vice” items. Beer, cigarettes, cold medicine, gum, hard liquor: these are the items that incite rage into the taxpayers who believe they are paying for the food the poor person just purchased. I have been working with families on food-stamps and impoverished adults for seventeen years so I feel qualifies to answer these questions. Furthermore, as a card carrying Republican and former Food Stamp Recipient – I come to this argument from a variety of perspectives. I am going to answer TCD’s questions and pose a few of my own.
- Do you feel agitated by every person you see using Food Stamps? Do you look in their cart and judge them?
No. It is unfortunate that purchasing groceries for private consumption in a private residence happens in a public forum and grocery carts are not opaque, store conveyer belts also offer no privacy. This visibility leads to the impression that the ways the benefits are used are also public domain. People – MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS! You did not drive to the store for the sole purpose of evaluating grocery purchases, did you? Can I buy you a month of Netflix to keep you occupied instead?
Purchasers who need to use public aid to feed their families should not have to sneak into the store after dark, or use a designated lane, nor should they wear safety vests with “I’m spending your money” while they shop. There should be no stigma for folks trying to stay alive.
- Why would you select employment when the cash benefit is greater than your paycheck, or working reduces the overall cash you have at the end of the month?
Any month you do not receive cash assistance form the government because you earned too much money to be issued assistance – that month is preserved and available for you to draw aid in a future month.
Cash assistance is time limited. Federally (across the USA) cash assistance for an adult is only available for 60 months out of the adult’s lifetime. These 60 months can be used all at once for 5 solid years, or can be broken up and used as needed. Any month when you do not draw on the cash assistance, it means you did not use one of the 60 months. In California the time limit is 48 months.
Also, you will never have less money at the end of the month than when you only receive cash assistance (in California at least). There is a definite incentive to find employment.
- What if your abuse of the system causes the governments to end the assistance, what will you do?
Let me ask you to fact check this – and also define abuse. If the safety net system were to be removed, Americans would likely starve to death in much the way they did before Social Security and Welfare programs were instituted.
When a person goes to the County they live in and asks for assistance staying alive ( help with food, health care, buying the basics) the stigma of “freeloader” automatically attaches. Let me ask you to answer honestly :
- Are there basic rights and privileges poor people are signing away when they ask for help?
- Why are most poor people vilified in popular culture and discussions of public aid?
- Do you know exactly how much of your tax dollars fund these programs for the poor?
- Are you aware of which types of businesses actually benefit the most from entitlement programs?
- Where do the funds really go?
Look up the answers. Please educate yourself with facts and not just emptions, assumptions or popular opinions before you judge.
Just in case you are lazy, I will provide some facts for you . . . .
I buried the lead here a little bit – but it is important to know that the money spent on Welfare programs do not go directly into the pockets of the poor – it goes into the pockets of government employees, contracted agencies, the people selling Obama phones, administering shelters and medical care for the poor, printing EBT cards, building and servicing the machines, double checking the midi-care spending etc. Poverty is big business. Just ask Walmart. In 2011 ; Over $60,000 in Welfare Spent Per Household in Poverty
New data compiled by the Republican side of the Senate Budget Committee shows that, last year, the United States government spent over $60,000 to support welfare programs per each household that is in poverty. The calculations are based on data from the Census, the Office of Management and Budget, and the Congressional Research Services.
And, if you really wanted to even the playing field – go to the large Walmart and other corporations who barely (if they even) pay taxes and ask them to bring our jobs back from other countries and also pay their pair share of taxes.