Sunday, July 25, 2010

Food Stamps, Tornadoes And Sweat, Oh My!

I witnessed local history last week and the experience utterly sucked: the first tornado in 25 years tore through four towns in my corner of central Connecticut, and although I was lucky – my home and car weren’t damaged at all – I lost power all day and night, and sweltered in a hot apartment with no air conditioning or fans. (When the power finally came back, I went online and ordered a battery-operated fan first thing. As God is my witness, as God is my witness, next time there’s a power outage I’ll be marginally less inconvenienced by it. Unless it happens before my new fan arrives in the mail.)

The timing was especially bad because I had to edit a new manuscript and write a new article for the Guardian, but could do neither without electricity or the Internet. The Guardian piece was an anecdotal story about what I saw at a discount grocery store after the state’s food-stamp debit-card system went down; I suggested we do away with food stamps and vouchers and coupons altogether, and simply give poor people cash.

But the piece didn’t run until today, since I was so late getting it to my editor. At least I had a moderately interesting excuse: the first tornado in a quarter-century raised hell in my corner of the world.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Most people who are traditionally on food stamps have made incredibly stupid life decisions and giving them aid simply enables them to continue to destroy their lives. A better system would be to offer minimum wage jobs to anyone who needs them doing work that can help cities and counties clean up parks and streets etc. Giving them welfare or other forms of aid creates a dependence that they do not want to leave. A suprising number of people actually prefer to live off the dole then work for themselves. It has become a form of control that politicians use to get votes. "Vote for me and I will extend unemployment benefits or increase welfare." And regarding unemployment, it is without a doubt the most abused government program we have. Most people miraculously find a job once unemployment benefits expire. Here is a better way to manage unemployment benefits: provide only 3 months of unemployment and then require the beneficiary to pay it back when they are working again. Withhold some of their pay until they have paid it all back.

9:03 AM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

Indeed, some people are simply screwups, as I said in the article, yet there are also people in trouble through no fault of their own, especially in this economy. With something like five or six jobseekers for every open position, that leaves four out of five people unable to find a job. It's like musical chairs -- there will always be people left without a seat at the end of each round.

Concerning your unemployment proposal: do you support that plan for other forms of insurance, too? "You pay premiums, and then if your car is trashed we'll fix it but you have to pay us back as soon as you get the money."

Unemployment only covers the relative few who worked jobs where employers paid into the fund. If I lost my freelance gigs, I wouldn't be eligible for a dime in aid.

11:18 AM  
Blogger Windypundit said...

Actually, unemployment beneficiaries pre-pay for (at least some) of their unemployment insurance: They don't pay directly, but employers are required to contribute a percentage of their payroll to the unemployment insurance fund. It's not true insurance because there's a government subsidy, but then again they paid a lot of other taxes while they were working.

11:33 AM  
Blogger Windypundit said...

For the same reasons your cash benefits idea makes sense, I think it makes sense to give direct cash if you can instead of donating to charities (at least until you consider the taxes). Most charities -- even very good ones -- burn up a fair amount of their donated income on overhead costs, just like the government does. So if you've got money to give, and you know of some poor people, just give them a direct cash donation.

By the way, I'm self-employed too, but for various reasons I've incorporated my business. This means that I have to pay unemployment insurance on myself. Great fun.

11:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Unemployment insurance is NOT a true insurance. You do indeed pay "something" into the fund but it doesn't even cover 1% of the cost for unemployment benefits paid. It is therefroe a scam perpertrated upon taxpayers but called an insurance that we "earned"/paid for to prevent any real discussion of the problem. A realistic amount to be paid in by each worker might be $100 a month then the unemployment insurance might be fully funded and not taxpayer subsidized.

10:00 PM  
Blogger James Hanley said...

Anonymous is upset that hard-working taxpayers don't pay enough into the unemployment compensation fund, so we have to tax those hard-working taxpayers to fund it.

Am I missing something here?

5:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

James: What you are missing is that it is ONLY hard working taxpayers who fund EVERYTHING. No one else! Not corporations they simply pass on taxes to consumers. Not the government, they have no income except our taxes. 100% of the burden falls on hard working taxpayers. Every social program designed to help people in need is abused, BADLY abused by the lazy, dishonest and criminals. Worse, every one of these programs is mismanaged so badly by government that we simply write off this loss (which in some programs exceeds 50%) and chalk it all up to helping the poor. What I am suggesting is a reasonable unemployment program that cannot be abused by the lazy or dishonest and thus does not have to be subsidized by hard working taxpayers. What you object to is it might put some limits on the crazy welfare gravytrain we all are being held hostage by. Today the federal government borrows 43% of the money they spend. This cannot continue; it will crash down around our heads. Will it be this year or next year? Hard to say but it won't be long. The national debt is so LARGE it cannot be paid off. Not with enormous tax increases and not even by slashing government programs. But make no mistake, both of those things will happen and we will still have a collapse. The middle class will be destroyed (which I think was the radical left's plan all along), and the rich will move their assets somewhere else (just as John Kerry did in Massachusetts). What most people do not understand is that we are not undertaxed but rather our government overspends. We have choosen to not fix the problems and now we have no other choice but to suffer the consequences of our sendthrift ways. It is later then you think...

2:50 PM  
Blogger KevinBBG said...

They specifically don't give out cash because they don't want people spending it on anything other than food, there are limits on what they can buy, no booze or cigarettes for instance.

35 years ago I needed food stamps once, for a single month. I hadn't eaten in three days and they gave me $50 worth of coupons - which was a lot in those days. It was literally a life saver.

Haven't used them, or unemployment insurance, at all in the last 35 years, which means I've paid that $50 back a thousand times. The idea that there are all these people who just want to lay around and get government money forever is purely right-wing mythology. There are some, but anyone who thinks getting food stamps is a good life really needs some help.

3:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Right wing mythology!!! There are families who have been in welfare for over three generations!! If that isn't akin to "forever" then what is. If you truely believe that most people on welfare cannot make it then you must be blind. Imagine that a person came to this country with no money and could speak no English but through hard work could make enough money to live well and still send money home to his family. Now imagine that 12 million of these illegal aliens are doing just that and in a country where an educated English speaking adult needs welfare for life just to survive. How is this possible???

Welfare is a scam designed to create a massive population of people dependent on government and the politicians who promise to continue the program. It's purpose is to enslave and control people. The welfare recipient does indeed live pretty well for someone who does absolutely nothing to support themselves.

2:52 PM  

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