I’m not usually one to go on a rant about politics, about our judicial system, or even about the programs that we have in place for low-income or needy families. But today I will – only because it is something I am very passionate about.
There have been several stories written and published over the past few months about the Food Stamp (SNAP) Program and cuts that will be occurring immediately and over the next decade. Essentially, over the next 10 years, House Republicans have voted to decrease the food stamps program by 5%, a $4 billion reduction. Now, this sounds like an outstanding amount of money being cut, and it really is; however, a family of four will see a reduction of $36 in their food stamp benefits giving them $632 instead of $668 for four people. I can (and often do) feed a family of 7 (with three additional people occasionally) on about $600 per month!! That’s $100 per week in groceries. No, we don’t eat exotic foods. No, we don’t eat red meat every night. No, we don’t eat out hardly at all. I shop smart, I plan my families meals, and I make meals from scratch. Oh…and I don’t receive food stamps or cash aid from anyone.
In addition to the monetary cuts of the program, the Republican plan would also require job training for some adults and would allow states to require drug testing to receive benefits.
In a recent ABC7 article, Rep. Jackie Speier is obviously not a proponent of this budget cut as she outs some congressmen as spending taxpayers money on lavish dining and drinking. Well, yes, Rep. Speier, that is an issue…as well. Reducing AND/or completely stopping politicians of any degree from using the taxpayer’s money on things such as alcohol and fine dining, I would guesstimate, would help pull our country out of an overwhelming deficit quite quickly. Who knows, we may even see a surplus in the near future.
In any event, while some of you may not be all for these ideas, I personally believe that it’s a GREAT idea! Now, before you start bashing me about the constitution, rights as Americans, etc…please hear me out.
The welfare program, a combination of several programs including WIC, cash aid, Medi-cal, and food stamps, was originally created to assist needy families. By definition, a needy family is one where the parent(s) is underemployed or unemployed. A form of these programs has been around since the 1800’s and was originally reformed during the Great Depression, which is where the program really began. Throughout the years welfare reform has been a hot topic with many as the types of programs, amount of money allocated, and requirements for these plans have changed.
No matter what legislation is put into place, there will always be challenges with the welfare program because there will always be leeches that try to work the system for their benefit. I firmly believe that those who are truly in need of these programs should have access to them. Those who are truly in need of these programs, in my opinion, fall into 4 categories:
- The elderly – those who have worked their whole lives and are no longer able to work due to medical reasons and/or age.
- The disabled – those who are disabled and physically unable to work due to an accident, illness, or disease.
- A disabled child – those who have a disabled child and cannot work due to their need to provide full-time care for that child.
- Unable to find full-time employment – those who have been laid off from work and are actively and aggressively searching for any and all work opportunities.
Outside of these four categories, unless there is a very specific exception to one of these categories, then there is no need for the individual to be in the welfare program, specifically the cash aid and food stamps programs. Oh, and if recipients of these monies were limited to the above four categories, then there would be a great deal more funds and resources available for those who truly need the assistance.
I have had the unfortunate displeasure of knowing far too many people who are collecting money to fund their drug habit and illegal lifestyle. I truly feel for the children in these situations as I know how unlikely it will be for those children to break the cycle and learn to live productive and fruitful lives. It is my belief, and I think that most (if not all) of you can agree that using the system to fund drug habits and illegal lifestyles is not only unethical and immoral, but it also takes money out of the pockets of hardworking taxpayers.
As a hardworking taxpayer, I have to be drug tested to be ‘allowed’ to work for my money. I also have to be up and in my office at a certain time every day for work, I have to log 8 hours of working time per working day, and I have to listen to my boss and complete my work in an acceptable manner to continue to be ‘allowed’ to work for my money. Why should someone who is receiving ‘free’ money be any different? I believe that drug testing and specific job searches should be required for those who are not elderly and / or disabled. We don’t need to waste money on drug testing for the disabled and/or elderly as it would be an added cost for someone who already can’t provide for themselves for reasons beyond their control.
I believe that unemployment requires a minimum of 10 (or so) job searches (submitted applications) per week. With the internet, even at a library, that can be done in less than 10 minutes. The requirements to find employment must be more stringent. Those receiving aid and are capable of working should be out looking for a job for 8 hours a day. It should be their full-time job to find a full-time job.
I’ve heard the excuses, such as, “it’s embarrassing to have to ask for help, why embarrass them even more?” Oh pleassse…it may be embarrassing, but I have been there before, and if it means letting my kids go hungry or peeing in a cup, give me the cup!
I just don’t want to be paying for people who have no intention of actually even trying to find a job, someone who has and will continue to spend their lives going in and out of jail and/or prison, nor anyone who is not using the money for its intended purpose – for necessities. When someone is in front of me in line at the store and they’re wearing tons of jewelry, nice clothes, buying a cart full of crap food and alcohol, and then gets into a car that’s nicer than mine…after using their EBT card to pay for it…I get a little ticked off. I understand that we can’t dictate what they use the money for, but come on! It’s pretty obvious they’re playing the system and getting money from somewhere else as well!
Now, there is the issue of the dirty drug tests and being cut off from welfare aid. What happens to the kids at this point? Yes, this issue would need to be addressed. Possibly take the kids? Put them into a family members care until the parents can get their act together? These are issues that would need to be addressed, but I certainly don’t want to be paying for someone’s drug habit when their kids won’t see much, if any, of the aid in the way of good/decent housing, food, clothing, and other necessities anyways (as it’s mostly traded as currency for drugs or other illegal items in certain situations). Maybe we should take their ability to have kids away? Just a thought…