I recently read a blog post complaining about people who have a prejudicial attitude towards “those people” who are forced to ask for help from a food drive. I understood the sentiment of the author. Anyone and everyone could end up in those circumstances and so everyone should be sensitive not only in how they refer to people in need but how they treat them. Poverty is really not a class issue. Being destitute is a matter of circumstances in many cases, and no one wants to be poor.
However, I actually could understand the point of the person whom the author was complaining about, the woman who made the assumption that the people who are aided by food drives probably wouldn’t know what to do with “fancy” foodstuff like “lots of organic offerings, and some deviations from the standard mac and cheese/boxes of spaghetti [like] rice pasta, artichoke hearts packed in seasoned oil, gluten-free crackers, olive tapenade . . . and quinoa.”
Granted, I would expect anyone who is forced to take charity would be grateful to have whatever they receive, but I would also think they’d be most happy with staple food items before getting something that would not easily fit into a simple meal. I wonder if the woman really meant to be degrading to “those people” or was just making a fairly valid assumption (though badly delivered) that luxury food items might be a wasted gesture for a food drive as many people, poor or not, would not want or know what to do with them, and most children not raised on such foods will probably balk at eating them.
Then, as I usually do when reading blog articles, I skimmed down through the comments and caught the author of the blog replying to someone’s comment about needing programs that helped people buy food from expensive grocery stores with this:
There are SO MANY people who need help. I hear a lot from people about how lazy welfare moochers are sucking this country dry, about how we have to stop giving handouts and teach people to be self-reliant. Those things may be true in some cases, but the reality is, people DO need a hand now and then and that will never stop happening. (as a side note, even making approx. $2000 a month w/ a family of 5, I was told I made too much money to receive any benefits from the government…something to think about)
So I feel I must speak up as one of “those people who complain about Welfare.” You see, those people like me who complain about government assistance programs usually do so because of the very things Jennifer Ball mentions right here.
I’ve known way too many people that had to be truly destitute to get any kind of government aid, and then had to stay destitute to keep the aid. Instead of a system that encourages people to take a hand that lifts them out of poverty, we have a Welfare state that pays people to stay poor–literally drags them down and keeps them in poverty–living hand to mouth without any opportunity to better themselves. Instead of a safety net, it’s a spiderweb that captures and wraps them in a sticky morass of regulations that keep them poor. On top of that, these programs actually create a pattern of dependency, because children raised in these assisted families are most likely going to remain on those programs themselves–the girls often getting pregnant while still children themselves and getting stuck in the cycle of having more mouths to feed to get more benefits to feed more mouths. There’s nothing in place to break the cycle.
Then you have to take into account those who do take advantage of the current system, like the people who took the generosity of certain stores for granted by purposely buying WAY more stuff than their temporarily unlimited EBT cards would normally allow. And please don’t try to tell me these people didn’t know that they couldn’t really afford multiple carts of groceries on their usual allowance. They knew they were stealing, and when the EBT system got back online, they abandoned their carts in the store and walked out. THEY KNEW THEY WERE STEALING! Then there is the new business of selling food stamp cards on Craig’s List and eBay for quick cash. The amount of fraud in these government programs is staggering and because of that fraud, taxpayer money literally goes to thieves while the people who actually do need help are put on waiting lists or are denied because they “make too much money.”
This is the very reason why I believe charities that run food drives and provide temporary shelter for the homeless, as well job training, and job hunting are far better than any government-run program. While you do have to prove you need the assistance, you’re actually going to get a real helping hand rather than falling into the sticky spiderweb instituted by a faceless bureaucracy who can’t even tell the people who really need help from the thieves who are merely working the system.
Why don’t we have a system that proportionally decreases benefits for those who are attempting to improve their circumstances instead of cutting off all aid to those who happen to get a job (even if it is one that cannot supply all their needs). It’s all or nothing and that’s most of the problem.
So please don’t lump “those people who are against the Welfare system” into a pile and just assume that we lack compassion and are prejudiced against those in need because it just isn’t true. I’m against a system that abuses those stuck in poverty by creating programs that literally prevent them from escaping poverty. I’d rather see programs that improve peoples’ lives rather than just give them the bare minimum to survive day to day, and part of that is done by providing incentives/motivations for people on assistance to supplement their own income through their own efforts without fear of being cut off from assistance, so that they can pull themselves up from the bottom rung of society’s ladder.
We should measure welfare’s success by how many people leave welfare, not by how many are added. —Ronald Reagan
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