Getting Started – The “Put Me In Charge” Piece

In honor of my maiden post for this blog, I wanted to write about the reason this blog now has a hosted domain name. For some time –  years, actually – I’ve been quietly and diplomatically trying to correct misinformation that floats around social media sites like Facebook. Sometimes these corrections turn into long, civilized debates between intelligent people with varying opinions. Sometimes, they end with friends blocking me while they continue to post things that aren’t true. I really hate that. Admit when you’re wrong. For clarification, I’m absolutely not saying that anyone’s opinion is right or wrong, but the “facts” that get shared are often inflated, skewed, or outright untrue.

This particular post has a little of both. A few years old, it’s recently being recirculated and getting some of the same ignorant, fallacious comments it received the first time it made the rounds. Today, it sparked me to take action on an idea for a project I’d been considering for awhile – this blog. A place where I could rant, correct misinformation, and voice my opinion on hot-button political and current event issues without offending friends in my personal social media sphere. So here it is…first, the post, then the facts, and finally, my opinion. Feel free to comment and share your thoughts on any portion of this post.

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“This was written by a 21 yr old female who gets it. It’s her future she’s worried about and this is how she feels about the social welfare big government state that she’s being forced to live in! These solutions are just common sense in her opinion.

This was in the Waco Tribune Herald, Waco , TX , Nov 18, 2011

PUT ME IN CHARGE . . .

Put me in charge of food stamps. I’d get rid of Lone Star cards; no cash for Ding Dongs or Ho Ho’s, just money for 50-pound bags of rice and beans, blocks of cheese and all the powdered milk you can haul away. If you want steak and frozen pizza, then get a job.

Put me in charge of Medicaid. The first thing I’d do is to get women Norplant birth control implants or tubal legations. Then, we’ll test recipients for drugs, alcohol, and nicotine. If you want to reproduce or use drugs, alcohol, or smoke, then get a job.

Put me in charge of government housing. Ever live in a military barracks? You will maintain our property in a clean and good state of repair. Your home” will be subject to inspections anytime and possessions will be inventoried. If you want a plasma TV or Xbox 360, then get a job and your own place.

In addition, you will either present a check stub from a job each week or you will report to a “government” job. It may be cleaning the roadways of trash, painting and repairing public housing, whatever we find for you. We will sell your 22 inch rims and low profile tires and your blasting stereo and speakers and put that money toward the “common good..”

Before you write that I’ve violated someone’s rights, realize that all of the above is voluntary. If you want our money, accept our rules. Before you say that this would be “demeaning” and ruin their “self esteem,” consider that it wasn’t that long ago that taking someone else’s money for doing absolutely nothing was demeaning and lowered self esteem.

If we are expected to pay for other people’s mistakes we should at least attempt to make them learn from their bad choices. The current system rewards them for continuing to make bad choices.

AND While you are on Gov’t subsistence, you no longer can VOTE! Yes, that is correct. For you to vote would be a conflict of interest. You will voluntarily remove yourself from voting while you are receiving a Gov’t welfare check. If you want to vote, then get a job.

Now, if you have the guts – PASS IT ON…”

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Do Your Research, People

First, this article has been mis-attributed. It was not written by a 21 year old girl wearing a low cut shirt to showcase her ample chest, as depicted on Facebook. In fact, it was written by a 56-year-old man who truthfully does not want the responsibility of being put in charge of these programs, but was simply trying to get people to think.  While I appreciate the effort, I think there could have been a better way to accomplish this.

What I Agree With

I know, crazy right. Me, agreeing with click-bait fodder? Believe or not, the author makes a few points that I could see as benefiting the welfare system. For one, I actually do think there should be tighter restrictions on what can be purchased with Lonestar cards, SNAP assistance, food stamps, or whatever your state government calls them. I also agree with creating a system for ‘government jobs’ for those receiving assistance who are unemployed but capable of working. Why not allow them to earn their benefits by setting them to tasks that benefit the taxpayers? This, unfortunately, is where my agreement ends.

Wrong for So Many Reasons, and How to Fix It

Let’s just take this line by line…

Getting rid of Lonestar in favor of meager pantry staples. No. Why? Because you’re creating more problems for taxpayers. Think that rice, beans, cheese, and powdered milk complete a healthy diet? Hah – you’re going to have those people in the hospital for malnutrition, intestinal issues, and heart problems so fast your head will spin. And who’s going to be picking up the tab for that? Yep, you got it – the hard-working tax payers.

What should be done instead? Sure, place restrictions on what food stamps will purchase. Cut out sodas, chips, cookies, over-processed snack food, sugary cereals, and ice cream. If they want to spend their daily food allowance (somewhere in the neighborhood of $4/day/person) on ground beef, tilapia, or fresh vegetables, let them. If they want to buy frozen pizzas, canned tuna, and deli meat, go for it. These types of foods are part of a healthy diet. If cost is what you’re worried about, I’d rather a food stamp recipient spend $5 on a frozen pizza than $20 on a delivery one. The argument is that food stamp recipients are dining on steak and lobster, while hard-working tax payers are scraping by with frozen vegetables and boxed mac n cheese, right? Read this.

Birth control and drug testing. Think that will help? Normally, I’m on the other side of the birth control debate. I believe in women having control over their own bodies, and making decisions about their health with the two people who have any input – themselves, and their doctor. I don’t believe the government has the right to dictate a woman’s birth control. Period. Their job is to make sure women who want it have ample access to it. I could go on an entirely different rant about this, but my stance on this particular instance is that it would be violating women’s religious and personal freedoms to force them to use the birth control mentioned. And a tubal ligation? Seriously? You’re complaining about handing her a few dollars a month to feed herself, and you want to put her through a potentially risky surgery that could prevent her from ever having children? What is wrong with you? Do you not realize that many government assistance recipients aren’t actually milking the system (rhetorical question, obviously you don’t, otherwise we wouldn’t be having this discussion), and are using the funds to supplement a temporary loss of income. Why in the hell would you think it’s okay to take away a woman’s right – her basic, intrinsic, natural right – to reproduce, permanently?

To address the drug testing portion. Here’s my argument against it…it’s expensive. Screw the argument about it being demeaning. Sure, it is, but companies are allowed to drug test their employees, and this shouldn’t be any different. Screw the discrimination argument. Duh, this would affect only the poor, but again, it’s not like they’re the only people in the country subjected to drug testing, so really, it’s not. My argument stems purely from the fact that it isn’t cost effective to drug test welfare recipients. The tests are expensive, and there has been no studies that prove there is a higher rate of welfare recipients on drugs than citizens who do not receive assistance. So yes, there are a few users who would be receiving benefits. But you’re going to pay less to them in food stamps than it would cost to drug test every applicant. Simple math.

Government housing inspections. A couple of things here. For one, there are already government funded homes that are regularly inspected, so I’m not sure what improvement the author was trying to make here. Inventorying possession? I mean, sure, search for illegal weapons or drugs if you feel you must…but really, who the heck has time to go around inventorying everyone’s possessions? Do you realize how many people are on welfare? And do you really think the states can afford to pay inspectors to keep an up-to-date list of every possession in government housing? About shoving welfare recipients into barracks… seriously? Does everyone realize that not every welfare recipient is homeless? I mean sure, there is absolutely a ridiculously high homeless population, and we should channel more funding into getting homeless people off the streets. That’s not what this person is implying. Not everyone who receives welfare lives in government housing or homeless shelters. And to remove people from their homes to shove them in bunk beds in crowded rooms (which will increase the chances of sickness, and the bill for the tax payers who will be paying for the doctors visits and medications) is ludicrous.

– Presenting weekly check stubs, selling possessions, etc. So the obvious dig at this one is, “What if they are paid bi-monthly?” Hah. Anyway, when you apply for assistance you are required to list incomes. If you’re unemployed, they give you a form that you need to have signed when you interview/apply for a job proving that you are trying to find employment. Skipping over the fact that this is truly embarrassing for some, and could potentially subject them to discrimination (I’ve seen this first-hand), it seems like that system is already taken care of.

Selling the possessions they already own… please. I’ve made this argument several times, when people complain that a woman pulled a Lonestar card out of a Coach purse before loading her groceries into a newer model SUV. Look outside of your narrow view and see the bigger picture. How do you know that this woman didn’t just lose her job, is embarrassed as hell to be on government assistance, and isn’t actively looking for work to get off of it? What if the purse was a gift (or a knockoff found at a flea market) and the SUV was borrowed from a friend because she doesn’t have a car? Quit being so damned judgmental just because things don’t seem the way they should be in your narrow-minded view. Yes, there are likely some welfare recipients who don’t manage their money well, who buy things they shouldn’t, and who abuse the system. But there are others who are truly trying to make ends meet, to feed their families, and doing everything they can so they don’t have to receive assistance. Do you think – with the tight restrictions on income for those eligible to receive benefits – that they really are spending that $4/day on food so that they can buy $1,000 purses left and right? Get real.

– You want our money, accept our rules… Sigh. This is where so many ignorant, short-sighted people infuriate me. No, this isn’t about raising their self-esteem. I promise you, what was left of it was crushed the moment they walked into that welfare office to apply for benefits. Here’s the thing though. IT’S THEIR MONEY TOO! Do you honestly think that most of these people have never done an honest day’s work in their lives? And by that, I mean have never, ever worked at a tax paying job. Guess where those taxes went? This applies to people on disability as well. These people, at one point, held jobs, paid taxes, and supported other citizens on welfare. Heck, some of them are working and paying taxes right now. Get off your high horse and stop pretending we’re all doing these people some massive favor by handing them a few dollars a day. They’ve worked for it too. By the way, the amount spent to fund welfare is something like $20/year per citizen. So…really, you’re doing all this griping for $20?

This isn’t a ‘reward for bad choices.’ It’s a benefit, for those who had the misfortune to be laid off, become ill, live in a disaster zone, etc.

– Voting… This is probably the point that infuriates me the most. Do you realize that by not allowing the poorest citizens to have a say in what happens in the government, you’ve effectively turned this democracy into an oligarchy? You know, that system of government where the wealthy make the decisions. Hmm…where have we heard about that before… And who is going to benefit from the rich making decisions? Oh, that’s right…the wealthy citizens. Gosh, now doesn’t that sound like a perfect system? I’m sorry, but when you talk about taking away basic rights of a democracy, you’ve lost my respect and I no longer believe you have anything worth saying.

The Point

I’ll sum it up in a few simple sentences… Quit being so quick to judge. Think before you speak. Google a fact every now and again. And have a little compassion.

You’ll thank me when you get sick, lose your job, then end up on welfare and someone writes an article trying to make your life worse.

 

3 thoughts on “Getting Started – The “Put Me In Charge” Piece

  1. Kara, I love what you have to say here. This is a topic very close to me. Being on food stamps, government health insurance for the kids, and even WIC off and on over the years, and unemployment. It is very humbling and belittling. Life happens, and for some it happens a lot. I long to have a stable life like my brother, who has not had the problems I have come across. Why it is that some get knocked down more then others, I don’t know, it is what it is. We are right now climbing out of a hole from Rob getting fired on Christmas of 2013. The firing was not Rob’s fault. The person had gotten the manager before Rob fired too. It was just someone that knows how to work the system. In a way God blessed us in the timing of it. If it happened after Feb. we would have lost everything because we would have used our tax return on paying off bills instead of using it to make the monthly bills. Unemployment took almost 2 months to get the first check. By then Rob got a job paying half of what he had made before. So tax money, cashed out 401K, a one time TANFT, food stamps, government health insurance for the kids, and lots of prayer, have gotten us through. Rob has worked his way up again, Bridie is working now and the only thing we have left right now is the insurance for the kids, which if Rob gets a DM position we will be off that too. I know some will say “why don’t you work?!”. Well, I have tried and the situation would not allow it. I have 3 young boys (which I have no one that lives close to watch them and I don’t want the pay I make to just go to a sitter. Kind of defeats the peruses ), a slight health condition, and at the time no car. Rob and I both tried to find a way for me to get a job to help out. I have tried a few things to make money by selling things and they all failed. Well, enough of my sob story.
    I half agree with tighter restrictions on the food stamps. They only give you so much money. I tried to just buy food with what food stamps we got because the rest of our money went to bills. Yes they give you money to supplement what you already earn. For some that works but for others they have more bills at the same pay. So that food stamp money is all you have for food. We had 6 people in our house, My husband and I and our 4 kids. First we got about $350 a month. A few months later it went down to $275. At the very last it was $150. I don’t know why it went down. Rob’s job stayed the same, but I made it work. I pinched that penny with all my might. We only got fresh fruit and veg. if it was a super sale or clearance. Same with meat and sea food. Healthy food is expensive and so the money only goes so far. The times we bought “junk” was if it was some ones birthday or a holiday. Cake mix, frosting, bag of chips and such. If it was not for the food stamps, the kid would not have had much of a birthday dinner. I don’t know how to stop the miss use of food stamps (and I now it is very much out there. I have seen plenty of it) but if you make the restrictions to tight it just makes it that much more humiliating.
    I would gladly take a drug test. Shoot you can get drug tests at Dollar Tree for $1. But just like tighter restrictions on food stamps, this is a gray area. How will the drug tests effect any children in that house hold? Maybe if tested positive you will have to have proof of substance abuse counseling for the food stamps to continue? I think some places offer free substance abuse counseling as part of Welfare. To force the use of birth control is just disturbing. It is like back in the 40’s and even up the 70’s (I believe) when they would sterilize “lower people”. Some as young as 5 years old and not knowing what had happened to them. To relieve society of those that are unfit.
    Government housing is good for those with out a home. I would hope if times got ruff again that they would not take my home just to put me some where, where they can “keep an eye on me”. Inspect my home fine, inventory my house fine( though the cost of and paper work of this is a bit much), but don’t take my stuff ( like the XBox that my neighbor was kind enough to give to the boys for free and the games they got for birthday presents) , making my kids feel like they are undeserving. Rob already gives check stubs, so nothing new there. He works very hard for each pay check. We both together over the years have worked very hard and payed our taxes. So it is good that when we need help, the taxes WE PAYED can help us back. We are not taking from others.
    Taking away the vote because it is a conflict of interest? That is funny to me because Dems are the ones who mostly make up government programs and I have never voted for them. The point of government help is just that, it is help. NOT a tool to humiliate and dehumanize people. The ones that will be hurt the most is the kids. It is hard enough for the kids to see their mother and or father broken from having to go for help then to hep more humiliation upon them. The system does need some work, but it does not need to make people feel like failures.
    Your last point Kara does sum it all up ’ll sum it up “Quit being so quick to judge. Think before you speak. Google a fact every now and again. And have a little compassion.

    You’ll thank me when you get sick, lose your job, then end up on welfare and someone writes an article trying to make your life worse.”

  2. Hello there! This post couldn’t be written any better!

    Reading through this post reminds me of my good old room mate!
    He always kept talking about this. I will forward this page to him.
    Fairly certain he will have a good read. Thank you for sharing!

  3. We stumbled over here by a different website and thought
    I might as well check things out. I like what I see so i am just following you.
    Look forward to checking out your web page repeatedly.

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