This thread is giving me the heebie-jeebies. Honestly. I guess I too often forget that I've fortunately been able to immerse myself in a community that has made a point of supporting the true autonomy and physical/emotional welfare of those who have found themselves in the poor and working class.
The government is not "of the people" any more than it is "for the people". "The people", as it were, come from varying degrees of (economic, social, etc) privilege, or lack there of. They do not have the support of their neighbors because their neighbors have been marketed a very yucky image of poor people. They're lazy. They have poor priorities/values. They leech off everybody else. I am not a professor in economics, but suffice it to say that there are a lot of poor people in your town. If you know them and love them, you want to help them. If you don't know them or love them (or if you are uncomfortable with them), you want to critique them. If you are them, you just want support. You want freedom and, in general, no amount of feeding into the system will get you that support. It just exhausts you.
Fourteen percent of our tax dollars go to all the "safety net programs" that exist in the United States. A relatively small portion of this is food stamps, which are only available to people that "meet the requirements". Whose requirements? A bunch of (primarily) white dudes in a room, making decisions for people they've never met, who generally come from a completely different pool of experiences. The largest portion of my tax dollars (twenty percent) go to war. Killing people. Killing families, even. Killing children, even. This is true and cannot be denied. A really gross reality, in my opinion. Another pretty big portion of that money goes to bailing out banks (who turn around and fund coal and kill rural, poor communities, btw), subsidizing the production of unhealthy food to keep the working poor sick and addicted, but alive enough to do our dirty work and support a failing system that is literally puppeteered and engineered by the 1% at the top who profit from it. This is not run-of-the-mill "corruption" that can be done away with "reform". I really don't have the ability to vote these things away. I am an active community organizer and if I did, I would have already, but my peers and I are not wealthy enough to really lobby for a say in a system that has been engineered to oppress the "voting public". This is a travesty and I grieve that I am a slave to a state that simply does not have the best interests of myself and my neighbors at heart. Capitalism doesn't work. Not for the working person and not for the benefit of families and certainly not for the poor and oppressed in those countries we are occupying.
The worst part is how we are totally viscerally trained to react when someone is using "assistance". As if it's a personal offense by that person against everyone else. The government is killing people with your money every. single. second. Stop making disgusting looks at the "welfare mom" in the nail salon and make connections with the poor people in your community. Know that they come from different backgrounds than you and know that you don't know everything about them, their experience, their budgeting, their story. Know that the government makes money off of their manicure, and that more taxes are paid by more businesses/people as a result of their getting manicures. A person pays taxes when they buy something. How does this go over peoples' heads?
A person cannot be blamed for supposedly "exploiting" a system that is put in place explicitly to exploit them. Pitting slaves against each other is a pretty standard tactic of slave owners. If you don't think the government *owns* you, try to stop paying taxes that go places you don't agree with, or try voting against them. Or, for that matter, try to get them to listen to you without showing up at the white house without billions of dollars in payoff.
Food stamps are not charity. They're everybody's money pooled and used pretty explicitly to make money off of junk food and keep the working poor the working poor. Have you seen the WIC list? It's a huge advertisement for general mills and the dairy industry. The government created a separate program so that they could subsidize *branding* by huge corporations who will make bank on it.
I use food stamps. I use them to eat. I am going to raise a family as a single mother, in part because I choose to use them. I pick healthy foods because I have the luxury and privilege of the kind of education and exposure to information that led me to make those choices despite the government's hopes that I will spend them on the crap food that they put all over television and magazines and whatnot. I don't *need* food stamps. I could work more hours and drive myself to misery and get prescriptions for drugs to "fix" my resulting depression like the powers that be want me to. But it's not a sense of *entitlement* that led me to the choice to get food stamps. It's a no brainer. Much of my taxes go to war. This part comes back to me in the form of nourishment. I am not ashamed.
To those who feel that people should be using more "discretion" (ahem - shame) when using food stamps, all I have to say is that no matter how much you value the concept of a supposedly "small government", what you're promoting is hate and the demolition of freedom for the working person. Period.
If you qualify for foodstamps, get them. Buy what you can with them. Buy what you want with them. Eat.