Thursday, May 24, 2007

Food Stamp Challenge Follow Up

I meant to blog about this earlier but the Food Stamp Challenge ended a few days ago and, yes, Rep. Ryan “cheated.”

But his blog post about the end of the challenge is very moving.

I'm coming away from this experience with some hard lessons learned and a newfound understanding of this issue. First and foremost is that it is nearly IMPOSSIBLE to make due on this amount of money. I know many people have written in saying that Food Stamps are meant to be a supplement to other income. Well, yeah that is how the program was intended, but it has been 11 years since we've added ANY value to food stamps, 10 years since we've raised the minimum wage and in that time inflation has risen, the price of milk has risen, the price of produce has risen. NOW we find ourselves in a position where with gas well over $3.00 a gallon in many places those who earn the least among us use their food stamp benefit not as a supplement, but as their sole source of income for food.

It’s much longer but I think the few people who criticized his (and the other three Congressmembers') stunt complained that food stamps weren't designed to be an allocation of a full week’s supply of food. However, even if you think it’s supposed to only be a supplement, his point that this “supplement” hasn’t changed in 11 years (something I wasn’t even aware of) should at least make a point to the heartless that it’s worth increasing the benefit.

I don’t know who the anti-food stamp group in this country, but it’s probably lumped in the same group that fundamentally doesn’t believe in welfare for anyone. Every man, woman and child should be an island I guess.

What’s that saying about Puritans?...that someone, somewhere may be happy? I notice amongst conservatives there’s always a haunting fear that someone, somewhere is getting money (in the form of welfare) that they haven’t “earned.” Like anything above bread-and-water-living-in-a-rat-strewn apartment means the gubmint is giving you too much money. Yeah those rich poor people, always getting for free what they should be working for.

That’s what I notice about that kind of attitude, it’s the sense that someone is getting a free ride while you have to work hard like everyone else. But if it’s such a sweet “free ride” how come no one ever says “Wow I wish I had the carefree no-work lifestyle of those on welfare!”

Does anyone ever really want to trade places with someone on welfare if they have it so good? Seriously. Why get all worked up over the moral outrage that someone, somewhere might not be working hard enough to justify their government benefits in some theoretical model you have of what people “deserve” to get?

If we tripled the food stamp program it still wouldn’t be as much as the private contractors in Iraq have stolen without doing any work at all. And at least the families receiving more food stamps would be healthier, and so would their children. Which would make everyone’s lives a little less miserable and a little more productive. Which is a step on the way to getting them off government assistance.

2 comments:

:-jon said...

regarding welfare, food stamps and all that other pinko-commie stuff.

(I'm mostly being sarcastic calling it a "pinko" program)

Anyway...I firmly believe that we as a society should make sure that every child is fed, and has medical care. And this will have to start with conception, since the first few months of development are key. It is immoral to have sick and hungry children.

as for the who's on welfare question? Who is? Is it healthy males? How many of those on, have children they are caring for?

What are ways that we can fix the DHSS system? How do we get people off the dole and back to work?

I am not tied to the welfare system. If there is a better way, fine, great lets go with it. BUT I do not want poor nutrition, preventable health issues, lack of medical care for children (including pregnant women).

From a strictly cost perspective, isn't it a bit cheaper to make sure kids neurologically and physically develope healthy?

From a moral standpoint? Can one face their Maker and say, "sure, those kids were bad, Lord, but my taxes were kinda high."

As for the charity of churches. Hey, Christians (I will include myself here as a hypocrit), time to step up and start feeding the hungry and healing the sick. THAT is what Jesus would do.

(I don't call out other religions, because I ain't one of them.)

And my final snarky comment/question...how does a Darwinian Athiest approach this problem? Is it just a matter of survival of the fittest (luckiest).

NewsCat said...

Jon I actually want to respond to your post because there was something I definately made unclear in mine. I combined the concept of welfare (cash assistance) with food stamps (food only) in terms of welfare. However I'm pretty sure that to qualify for food stamps one does not necessarily qualify for welfare. In fact there are many ancedotes of military families "qualifying" for food stamps because they are unable to make ends meet on the army's salary while one parent is in Iraq or Afghanistan.

So its unfair to imply that people who earn food stamps are the same people who earn welfare. They are not synonymous. And while there used to be an issue with people selling food stamps for cash, since they've moved to a debit card system rather than "funny money" (which I used to handle as a cashier) it's not really possible to sell food stamps on a black market.

The problem with treating food stamps as a supplement rather than a projection of how much one should spend on food to survive is that is that how does a gov't agency determines how much money a family has to fill in the remaining part of the "supplement?" I think I read in some books about povetry that the reason people treat food stamps like they are to be the entirety of their food budget is that they literally no money left to put towards food. So they make due with what they have.

I see no reason not to triple the food stamp allotment frankly. I'd be happy knowing that single (poor) adults had $66 a week to buy groceries. I don't know what that would cost but probably less than a week of operations in Iraq.