The DeHumanization of the Poor
I should mention that this is a blog post, it is my personal opinion, not necessarily that of this page. I am also including facts and figures with sources to illustrate a point. Names have been changed, except mine, I am still me. SNAP, for those unfamiliar, is the food assistance program in the US, it stands for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, it was formerly known as EBT and food stamps, I am older and use all terms.
Last night as I was doing admin duties for this page I flipped open my personal page also, I do that sometimes, switch back and forth between pages. A young lady that I have known for years made a post about spending her hard earned money on groceries, and the person ahead of her in line bought a cookie cake, with SNAP benefits, she was furious. Being me, I said, “Carly, the average person who receives food stamps gets about $6 a day for food, $2 a meal. In order to purchase a cake that family probably has to eat ramen a few nights. A little compassion goes a long way.” I put a heart after it, I can’t do that here. At that point I switched pages again and was not on my own for about 15 minutes, someone, I’ll call him Ryan, posted after me saying, “A Birthday is just another day for poor kids. If you don’t work, you don’t deserve a cake. Period.” What kind of person takes out aggression on kids? Especially kids with birthdays. I didn’t want to start a battle of wits with an unarmed person, so I replied, “I guess I never thought it was my business what other people eat in their homes.” He then replied, “IT IS WHEN I AM PAYING FOR IT!” There were a few curse words in his reply as well, I deemed it prudent to leave them out.
At that point I walked away from the conversation. Like I said, can’t have a battle of wits with an unarmed person, and I was busy and tired and not wanting to educate someone who doesn’t care about basic human dignity. It was hard for me to let it drop, but around 5 am I decided to go with this format, so many can learn at the same time. Practical. Effective. Good job mama.
Now, I did not realize this man is personally paying for birthday cakes for poor people. A person who makes $50,000 annually pays about ten cents a day to food stamp programs, if that’s his income he actually could have paid for one or 2 cakes, doing the math that comes out to $36.50 per year, so if that is your attitude you can complain about how one family spends $37, or how 10 families spend $4, you pick, other than that its not your business. When you donate to a church do you tell them how they have to spend it? If you donate to a school do you choose their classes and teachers? When you pay the rest of your taxes do you have a say in what roads get fixed? When you buy a child a toy do you insist he play with it your way? That sounds like control issues to me.
Why do so many people care what poor people eat? Way too many don’t care if they eat, so why is what they are eating anyone’s business? When did it become our business what is on other people’s tables? If we can control that, where does it stop? Can we then tell poor people they do not deserve a house, marriage, love, children, an education, the opportunity to better themselves? Are the poor of our country second-class citizens with no rights or will of their own?
According to the USDA not everyone who receives food assistance is without a job, they are under-employed, disabled, elderly, low-income, homeless, or receive other benefits. In this country we have something called the working poor, people who work at minimum-wage jobs that do not support their families, I think that is a bigger problem than how they are spending their money.
If the government started telling poor people what they are allowed to eat where would that stop? If you become disabled would you like someone telling you that you can no longer have special occasions, anniversaries, birthdays, or celebrations? The poor don’t deserve these things? Who made you judge and jury of the world? Ask a person what’s going on, maybe her husband was in an accident and she is now the sole support of the family. Maybe she has a severely disabled child so she is unable to work at this time. My point is, its not your business. You do not know what is going on in someone else’s life, you don’t know if they deserve to eat or not, there are people qualified to make that decision that have already made it.
I am aware there is occasionally food stamp fraud, by people and by businesses, this has gotten much bad press and garnered a great deal of excitement. On an internet site devoted to stamping out fraud they list the fact that out of $100 in benefits, $3.05 may be fraudulent. This means the vast majority of money being spent, almost 97%, is by people who truly need it.
I will never advocate lying, to anyone, to abuse a system designed to help is horrible. There are people whose job it is to make sure that doesn’t happen. You can relax, you are not the world’s designated food stamp police. That being said, if you see someone buying alcohol or cigarettes please report it to your local DHS office, they will handle it. A post on Facebook does not help them stop it, or even let them know it happened. If a woman buys a cake, get over it, you don’t know why she bought it, and you don’t need to know. Maybe her child had to bring snacks to school that day and you can no longer bring homemade snacks to school, that is a rule in most areas. Maybe she graduated from school or got a job that will improve her family’s life, maybe she is a designated shopper for a disabled person that cannot shop for themselves. Think first, complain later. A little compassion goes a long way. <3