Obama didn't shut down the government and SNAP program recipients are not "welfare queens"
If you are a Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) user in Mississippi, you may have thought for a moment that you were in the opening scene of the movie “They Live” the other morning. The first scene opens with: “Due to a computer error, the food stamp program has been suspended until further notice.”
If you tried to use your SNAP benefits card in various counties throughout the state that is what you may have heard. Upon returning from a shopping trip, my mother and her young friend announced that there were signs stating that stores could not accept EBT SNAP cards right now. Luckily this failure is only going to be temporary. Their immediate conclusion? “It’s cause Obama shut down the government.”
First of all, Obama did not shut down the government. Second, to blame him for this problem is also ridiculous. Local station WLOX reported that according to Congressman Bennie Thompson, “I am… informed that this problem has been caused by a vendor responsible for processing payments and not a result of the federal government shutdown.”
He stated a problem with the transaction vendor, not the program, nothing to do at all with the government shutdown. Well, you can tell people the truth, that doesn’t mean they’ll believe it.
Considering what people commonly believe leads me to the second issue. Perusing the comments section of the WLOX Facebook page, you can read comments regarding this system failure which range from “Time for lazy people to get a job,” to “Hopefully it will stay that way,” (out of order) and “Time for people to get off their butts and get a job instead of depending on ‘government assistance!'”
How about this one: “By the way, where do you think the government gets the money? Ugh not from dead beats who don’t work! If u don’t work you shouldn’t deserve any right to any assistance! If you don’t put anything in you shouldn’t get anything out of it! (sic).”
America suffers from a puritanical work ethic which believes if you don’t work, you don’t eat. That leaves no gray area for persons who can’t work for one reason or another. That ethic, in puritan times, also did not get applied to children, the sick and elderly. This work ethic is not a bad thing but is being misapplied.
Statistics have clearly shown that by far, the recipients of SNAP benefits and most other public assistance, include mostly the elderly, small children, and the disabled. Not to mention, if you draw Social Security Insurance because you are elderly or disabled, you HAVE paid into it.
These programs are designed to assist both those who only need a short period of assistance, and those who need long term help due mainly to poor health, disability or age. The statistics show the number of people who receive benefits for 7 months or less (19%) to be almost identical to the number who receive it longer than 5 years (19.6%). The largest group is of people who receive assistance between 2 and 5 years, at 26.9%. This makes sense, because it seems two to five years is a reasonable amount of time to get your life turned around, in event of catastrophe, childbirth, college attendance, job loss, etc.
I have heard people argue that people abuse the welfare system. I do not doubt that, human nature being what it is. There is always going to be someone who will try to milk a system. But the fact is, you can’t get food stamps for yourself as an individual unless you make less than $1100 per month, and you have to prove it. They don’t just give it to you. To receive Temporary Aid for Needy Families (TANF) you have to have qualifying children. To receive SSI, you must be disabled.
Then there’s the Earned Income Credit (EIC). This is considered a Welfare benefit by the government, but how many people do you know who take this credit at tax time? Maybe next time someone complains about Welfare recipients, you can encourage them to forego claiming the EIC on their taxes next year and see what they say.
That’s pretty hateful, if you ask me. The idea that if a person needs public assistance they should also suffer without air conditioning, access to a phone or television, internet, etc., is ridiculous. Anyone who has tried to find a job lately will tell you a phone and internet access are vital to being hired. They certainly will not be able to get off public assistance without them.