Years ago, a bumper sticker read "mean people suck." This writer wholeheartedly agrees. Increasingly, Americans are becoming meaner and less compassionate toward other humans. Not only are these people "bashing" Muslims and immigrants but they also pick on the poor.
Yes, there is poverty in New Hampshire, although we like to hide it in our beautiful Lakes Region. Is this why many want to pass laws against "panhandlers?" Is it because we are ashamed to see them?
The poor who receive welfare, "food stamps" (now SNAP), W.I.C. Medicaid, surplus agricultural commodities (actually a "welfare" program for corporate farming), and other public services are under attack from conservatives and others who lie about these programs. They perpetuate myths to shift the blame for poverty to the poor. Those of these who claim to be "Christian" are the most reprehensible. What would Jesus do?
The most common myth is that most welfare recipients do not want to work. The statistics show that many ARE working but cannot make ends meet without assistance. Many work low-paying jobs with families to support. Over 40 percent of those receiving SNAP or "food stamps" work. Some are adjunct college professors! Most of rest are the disabled, the elderly, and children. The WIC program is only for children and pregnant and nursing moms. Most people prefer a decent job to a handout.
Another myth is that people are buying alcohol and tobacco with SNAP EBT cards. The program is only for food products and seeds to grow food. The few cases of fraud are amplified by the conservative press.
Some claim that people are living lives of luxury on welfare. Don't they know that the average recipient of SNAP food assistance gets only $133 per month? Others believe that most welfare recipients sell their EBT cards to buy drugs. But, testing of recipients in some states shows that this to be untrue.
Still another myth is that illegal aliens get food stamps and other welfare. The only "benefits" illegal immigrants get in this country are emergency medical care and schooling. This seems humane but we seem to be turning into an inhumane nation.
As for other benefits for "illegals," they simply do not exist. Illegal immigrants cannot get SSI. Social Security, SNAP, W.I.C., public assistance, Medicaid or subsidized housing. Some benefits CAN go to the child of an illegal immigrant who was born here and thus a citizen. Some legal immigrants do get benefits at times but they are legal and pay taxes. Many are citizens.
Legal immigrants do not get "free rides." In the case of refugees in our area, they are helped by private organizations. Some do qualify for assistance because although they are looking for work, the government is slow in getting them their "green cards."
This writer admits that years ago, he received food stamps. He was not lazy; he was looking for a job every single day but had to take food stamps. It was the most degrading and humiliating experience he ever had. Since then, he has known people who, using an EBT card in a grocery store, heard the customer behind them say, in effect, "you're welcome I'm paying for your food." How mean! In the words of Gomer Pyle, "fer shame, fer shame, fer shame!"
Relatively few Americans seem as upset about the "welfare" for the privileged: tax breaks for corporations and the wealthy. Nor, do a lot of Americans get outraged that over 50 percent of our taxes fund the military, including billions equipment that does not work. Perhaps it is easier to demonize "welfare mom" than the "big boys."
In most democratic, developed, nations, a "safety net" for the less fortunate is taken as a matter of course, as something that civilized countries just do. It was once said that a society is judged by how it treats its weakest members.
These programs are not "socialistic." They were implemented to keep the poor from getting really angry and taking more radical action. If well-funded conservative interests have their way, it will make the lot of the poor a lot worse. Still, when people get hungry, they WILL find something to eat. But, will the privileged like how they do this?
Check out the FACTS!
(Scott Cracraft is a citizen, taxpayer, veteran, former food stamp recipient, Gomer Pyle fan, and resident of Gilford.)
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