When I was a child, which wasn’t all that long ago, taking a handout from the government was a little bit better than confessing to your Catholic grandmother that you had renounced God for atheism. Yeah, you’d have gotten about the same disgusted reaction from someone you told that you were on welfare, food stamps, etc. It was not the in thing. It just wasn’t.
The family across the street from us was on welfare and food stamps if I remember correctly. They were the white trash pariahs of the neighborhood too. I remember on more than one occasion CPS or the police or some other government official visiting their trailer/house thing. I don’t think it was because they were recipients of the government handout more than it was the way they acted. They for lack of citing specific instances behaved badly and acted like what you would expect white trash to act. On the other hand, my father was self-employed and worked long, long hours to keep clothes on our back and food on the table. He would sometimes be gone before I got up for school in the morning and wouldn’t return home until after I had gone to bed that night, working 12,14 or 16 hour days. We always had enough and we never accepted a handout that I can remember. Why, because my father had his pride. Not only did he have his pride, but he knew that if he worked hard enough he could provide for us. Sure he could have worked less, stayed home more, and taken a handout, but how much dignity would that have robbed him of?
There are people who say, you can’t attach a stigma to receiving a government handout, these people shouldn’t be made to feel bad. Well, it didn’t used to be that way, it used to be that people felt bad about accepting monies they had not earned for work they were not doing. It is emasculating for a reason, because not being able to provide for your family is a pretty big stigma. However, the USDA wanted to push the SNAP program as something fun, exciting, healthy, good for families and good for the economy. They wanted to push it so bad they ran public service announcements in English and Spanish telling us just how good it was to go on food stamps and give your family proper nourishment as well as stimulate the economy.
Okay, I see advertising that food stamps are available, if you need them. However, they are not a stimulant to the economy, the taxpayers fund them and the people spend them. With this kind of publicity is it any wonder that from 2008 to now the food stamp program has jumped from an annual expenditure of 36 billion to 80 billion under our current administration. That is not stimulating the economy folks, that is reckless spending and fuzzy math. It is the equivalent of taking money from one pocket and putting it in the other pocket then declaring you got richer by doing so. Food stamps are not a cover for everything nutritional either, the fact that several states now take them for fast food, cigarettes, and booze tell me that food stamps have gone way, way past their intended purpose. But people have been so desensitized to the stigma of living off the government that advertizing for food stamps and food stamps as a right seems commonplace. Is it any wonder then with this shift in attitude that more than 1 in 7 Americans receives some kind of food stamp assistance? Will we ever see a time again when living on the government dollar is shameful, or will it become the norm and then the expected to take a government handout? Do we really want an America like that?