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Conservative Hypocrisy: Food Stamps Are Hand-Outs to the Lazy ... Until I Need Them

(Then it's still a hand-out to the lazy, just not for me.)
 
 
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This article on increasing rates of reliance on food stamps illustrates pretty clearly the right-wing mentality when it comes to social programs -- any sort of government aid is a hand-out to the lazy until I need it. Then it's still a hand-out to the lazy, just not for me.

While Mr. Dawson, the electrician, has kept his job, the drive to distant work sites has doubled his gas bill, food prices rose sharply last year and his health insurance premiums have soared. His monthly expenses have risen by about $400, and the elimination of overtime has cost him $200 a month. Food stamps help fill the gap.

Like many new beneficiaries here, Mr. Dawson argues that people often abuse the program and is quick to say he is different. While some people "choose not to get married, just so they can apply for benefits," he is a married, churchgoing man who works and owns his home. While "some people put piles of steaks in their carts," he will not use the government’s money for luxuries like coffee or soda. "To me, that's just morally wrong," he said.

He has noticed crowds of midnight shoppers once a month when benefits get renewed. While policy analysts, spotting similar crowds nationwide, have called them a sign of increased hunger, he sees idleness. "Generally, if you’re up at that hour and not working, what are you into?" he said.

I don't know, sir -- but since you're there too, why don’t you tell us?

Almost as precious is the suggestion that food stamps should come with work requirements, akin to cash welfare benefits:

"Some people like to camouflage this by calling it a nutrition program, but it's really not different from cash welfare," said Robert Rector of the Heritage Foundation, whose views have a following among conservatives on Capitol Hill. "Food stamps is quasi money."

Arguing that aid discourages work and marriage, Mr. Rector said food stamps should contain work requirements as strict as those placed on cash assistance. "The food stamp program is a fossil that repeats all the errors of the war on poverty," he said.

No word from Mr. Rector, though, on where those jobs are coming from.

Food stamps are increasingly utilized in large part because more Americans are unemployed or underemployed. Work requirements aren't particularly helpful if you live in rural Appalachia or suburban Detroit or the South Bronx and there just aren't jobs to be had.

Jill Filipovic is a New York-based freelance writer and a law student at NYU. More of her writing is available online at her blog, Feministe.

 
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