Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Food stamps

It's hit the headlines that food stamp use in the US has hit record levels, and it's very popular to bash the program, but in general, if we're going to spend billions of dollars, I'd rather it be on cheese than bombs. 

Here's a quote from a recent article that pretty much sums up my concerns about waste:

"...who wouldn't trade a middle-class job, a car and a house for $300 a month in food stamps, a tiny apartment and a bus pass? I hear people are abandoning their jobs right and left to sign up. "

let's be clear here:  I was poor as a child.  Welfare poor.  Food stamp poor.  I remember that time as being one of hardship and privation.  My mother saved and scrimped food stamps for 6 months so that she could buy my sister and I an ice cream one day, and was reduced to tears by a woman who criticized her for "wasting" the food stamp money.  That was the only ice cream we saw that whole year. 

Yes, we may be wasting some money, and maybe folks are getting food stamps that don't qualify.  But the vast majority of people who receive them desperately need them.  I know my family did. 

We have spent 1.3 trillion dollars on the wars since 2001, and we will spend another trillion dollars in caring for our troops after the wars.  In that same period we have spent less than one half of 1% of that sum on food stamps.   Can you really say that any of that money is "wasted" if it goes to buy food?  


Rich said...

"...We have spent 1.3 trillion dollars on the wars since 2001, and we will spend another trillion dollars in caring for our troops after the wars. In that same period we have spent less than one half of 1% of that sum on food stamps..."

I think your numbers are a little off.

Food stamp spending is around 80 billion dollars a year (doubling since 2008), which would roughly be 880 billion dollars over the next eleven year period (disregarding the inevitable spending increases, etc.).

So, you should be comparing 880 billion for food stamps and 1.3 trillion for the wars.

I don't think we can afford much more of either type of spending.

And, if you can't waste money by spending it on food, what is the limit? Should everyone get food stamps? Is everyone entitled to food?

Is it sustainable to borrow money, print money, or take money out of the economy through taxes to just run it through an inefficient government bureaucracy that then redistributes part of that money to people in the form of food stamps?

People shouldn't go hungry, but I don't think food stamps are the way to solve that problem.

SmithGang said...

Agreed, but I wish the elderly could receive more that they get .they worked hard to build this country and I hate to see them give up eating just to be able to buy their meds! We like the barn Congrats:)

Bill Gauch said...

It's obvious you don't live in the Northeast. Here, food stamps are sold for $.10 on the dollar. Then the seller claims it was lost and gets another one. If I had to guess, probably 30% of food stamp money goes to pay for food for the designated recipient.

Cathy said...

I agree that there are many who benefit from food stamps. And I believe that food stamp fraud has been declining with card readers etc.

It is not fair to compare present spending to future spending. And of course the future costs of caring for veterans should be included in war costs.

We will climb out of the present economic problems with high unemployment. Wages should rise when jobs are in excess to those seeking them. With both of these effects of an improving economy food stamps should be less common and the programs costs will be less.

I believe my sister once had food stamps when she divorced while suffering disability from a cervical spine injury and raising two kids. Today she is remarried and both are employed and paying plenty of taxes.

I'm for food stamps! We have food stamp payment available at the local farmers market so it helps more than the food stamp recipient both locally and nationally.

becky3086 said...

Where I work we take care of 134 children afterschool virtually for free ($10 for the whole school year). 90% of those parents are on food stamps. It usually isn't because they have had some type of hardship and had to go on food stamps, it is because for most of them they have always been on food stamps. Most of them are able to work some type of job. (A famaily member of mine just got two jobs, she has no education and even has a record and still got two jobs so it really isn't impossible)
Now I am not saying that food stamps aren't necessary. But I do think that food stamps today are not the same as they were when we were growing up. I can remember when the food stamps you got just wouldn't last the whole month and we were good and hungry by the time they did come (God forbid if it was a holiday and they didn't send them until afterwards) and my mother really, really tried to stretch them.
These days I am amazed at what I see in some of the food stamp carts. There is a lot of sodas and junk food. I'm sure some people are responsible but a lot of them aren't. We sure didn't get soda and snack cakes when my mother was on food stamps.

Unknown said...

Just a quick thought on the items people buy with food stamps. The cost of soda (coke) when adjusted for inflation has gone down by half since 1964. So when you see people choosing junk food for purchases with food stamps it may have a lot to do with junk food being much cheaper than wholesome food, calorie for calorie. Also the knowledge of how to really cook hampers many cheap and healthy options for many low income people.

Cathy said...

Many jobs pay so little that a full time worker with a family is eligible for Food Stamps. Is the employer responsible for paying a living wage? If you believe that then put the Food Stamps on his account.

A single mother should go home to her children in the evening. Working two jobs would only be a detriment to her children.

I have no dog in this hunt. I get a retirement check every month and work occasionally for $1000.00 a day. I am married to a man who is like myself a physician and higher paid than I would be if working full time. He is working full time.

I enjoy my semiretirement raising and selling heritage poultry, gardening and carrying for a couple of beef cows. I break even at that when the fox stays away.

Food stamps don't cover a whole months worth of food. Much of what is in the basket might be out of their own pocket in the end. It really isn't my business.