Just the other day, I heard another politician making yet another slam against the poor. This time, it was, of course, a Republican saying that he’d heard about an unemployed man using Food Stamps to buy a lobster dinner. It put me in mind of the old Reagan story about the Welfare mothers.
Both stories share a few attributes; they both slam the poor, an old standard for the GOP, and they’re both of dubious authenticity. Yet, the story did get me thinking: what if it was true?
I wondered how extensive Food Stamp fraud was. Quite a few Republicans claim that’s why they want to slash the programme, to get rid of waste, fraud and corruption. In fact, I heard one Congressman use that phrase about four times in a two-minute speech!
Yeah, they’re all about rooting out the old W F and C, aren’t they?
I wondered, if this one story was true, how extensive the problem was. Well, I’ve heard estimates that it’s about ten percent, but let’s wildly generous; let’s say it’s as high as a quarter. Even at that rate, it means that the program benefits a huge number of people, among them a lot of children and veterans. Yet, members of Congress are determined to cut Food Stamps and Unemployment Insurance. They continue to argue that people are lazy and that we have to do something to cut government spending.
Okay, I can buy that final argument, the lazy one. As someone who has been on unemployment, I can attest to the fact I wanted nothing more than to get off it as soon as possible! The money I got was definitely not enough to live on. The idea that people getting that money are lying around doing nothing is completely bogus!
As well, those same politicians have to explain this to me. If they’re so dedicated to their beliefs in reducing the deficit, shouldn’t we be cutting subsidies to oil companies and huge agro-businesses? After all, both of those industries make massive profits, without government aide. The chief executives for those companies definitely aren’t hurting. If the National Debt is such a huge concern, why aren’t we cutting government subsidies for people who do not need them?
Let’s consider this point: all of the money the government gives to the oil companies and big businesses is mostly wasted. These companies are profitable. Where does that money go?
Huge bonuses to the top managers probably accounts for a great deal of this money. Where does it go from there? Banks in the Cayman Islands, a third vacation home. Perhaps it goes to pay for an elevator for their collection of cars and so on.
On the other hand, most of the money given to the poor and needy, the people who are struggling actually go to people who need it. What do they do with it? As they’re struggling, they use the money to buy food, pay the rent, get clothes for themselves and their kids and so on.
Looking at all those facts, and accepting that a small portion of help to the needy is wasted, I have to wonder, who is more deserving of the lobster dinner?
Combining the gimlet-eye, of Philip Roth, with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Most of the time he writes, but sometimes he works at Disney World to renew his fantasies and get a few dollars more. AJ writes, with insight and passion, about his family and his dog. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true.
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