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#61 of 181 Old 02-03-2011, 08:29 PM
 
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I Would be concerned that I could be taking it away from a family that needs it more .that being said where I live people get 350 to 1000 a month in food stamps and I would love to have that cushion as well..but since I could cut out other things and I am not actually starving I know there are people who might need it more...
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#62 of 181 Old 02-04-2011, 12:20 AM
 
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If you *could* qualify. 
Back when I was looking into it, in my state, if you owned more than one vehicle, owned a home, had a 401k and a positive checking account balance, you didn't qualify. 
But we don't have pets (I have to feed my kids instead), and broke mostly even on just unemployment as a family of 5.  Although when unemployed we also sold our paid-off 2008 Honda CRV and got a 2001 Odyssey since we needed more room for the unexpected new child.  So...  it depends I suppose.


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#63 of 181 Old 02-04-2011, 02:59 AM
 
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Did you pay for your college with cash/check/credit card, or did you use government assistance with loans/grants? If you took out a government/guaranteed student loan, then you used government assistance. If you went to a state university, then you used government assistance. The reason those schools are cheaper than private colleges=tax money. If you went to a public high school=taxes. State university=taxes. You're right, public assistance is easy to get. : )

 

Many people, people that I know, think it's disgusting to attend a state university or a public school. Yikes, I am just as disturbed when they talk about how they think everyone should have to pay the full price of a college education (a private college that doesn't use taxes to subsidize like a state school). They feel like their tax dollars shouldn't have to pay for someone else's college education. They think that everyone should have to struggle and pay the full price of college at a private college. Anyway, I love that my tax dollars pay for ALL government assisted programs.

 

 

Originally Posted by VisionaryMom View Post



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Originally Posted by geekgolightly View Post

This is an idiological question you're posing. I think that most people for whom food stamps don't sit well, they are going to bristle at your question, even if they grudgingly accept that *some* people need assistance.

That's an untrue assumption for everyone. I don't have a problem with public assistance. I wish sometimes that it were calculated differently. For example, I wish that students who excel received a free college education and not just people whose parents don't make much money. Supporting the best & brightest would help our society more, regardless of that person's parents' socioeconomic status. The purpose of public assistance - from any worldview - is to better society. 

 

The problem I have with the OP's situation is that it does represent to me what is problematic about public assistance. The OP doesn't need food stamps, whether her family qualifies or not. She could make different decisions to be self-sufficient, but public assistance is so easily & readily available that I do think it encourages people to rely on someone other themselves. My husband & I graduated from college about a year after the dot com bust. Laid off programmers were beginning to get job offers again at low rates, which meant that my husband, whose degree is in computer science, was at a serious disadvantage in getting a job. He worked 4 days a week at GAP and 3 days a week as a day laborer until he found something else. I was a graduate student and worked in my department. We cut everything from our lives, shut up our apartment so that we only needed to heat, cool, and light 1 room, sold our things to make money, etc. We were broke! 

 

It sucked, but we learned so.much. from that experience. I cannot tell you how much that experience taught us about who we are and what we can do if we put our energy into it. Now, truthfully I sometimes wish we'd gone the public assistance route because it would've been easier. At the same time, we learned to rely on ourselves, and that has served us well. When I read here or talk to people IRL who have tons of reasons for why they cannot get a job, pay their bills, etc., I think about how creative and resourceful that time taught us to be. So, in the OP's situation, no, it's not dire enough for me to think that food stamps are a need and not a want.

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#64 of 181 Old 02-04-2011, 05:06 AM
 
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I just started receiving food stamps. I am in Michigan.

 

The application asked about:

  • people in the household
  • income
  • housing costs (for me, rent)
  • which utilities I pay 
  • balance of bank accounts
  • other benefits received (Medicaid, tribal allotments, etc.)
  • convictions for drug offenses

 

The application did not ask about:

  • cars
  • retirement accounts 
  • if I have cable or internet
  • if I have pets
  • how much my utilities cost
  • any non-cash assets 
  • how much debt I have

 

I had no idea whether I would qualify when I applied. I decided that I would tell the 100% truth on my application and would not fuss in any way if I was denied. The $174/month I was granted will be very helpful while I continue to search for a job. I paid my fair share of taxes for 20 years and will pay again when I am employed.

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#65 of 181 Old 02-04-2011, 06:15 AM
 
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TiredX - Just got to read through your post. I think you were right on. I hope others have taken the time to read it.
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#66 of 181 Old 02-04-2011, 06:47 AM
 
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I do have to say that when we got rid of cable  I was shocked to find that I didn't miss it one bit.

 

And we were big TV watchers. We would go to be every night watching Daily Show/Colbert, I always had CNN or Discovery or TLC on. . .

 

We got rid of it because of the expense, and I told myself I would just download all the shows I used to think I needed to see, and I only very rarely do.

 

I consider it a wonderful step that freed up some extra cash, I just cannot believe we were dumping that money down the drain all that time!!!

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#67 of 181 Old 02-04-2011, 09:35 AM
 
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I find the argument that taking a deduction on mortgage interest being government assistance ludicrous.

 

I am simply keeping the money I have earned in that case, the government is not giving me money over and above what I have paid. Each year, I have paid the government tax money. Doesn't matter how many deductions I take, when all is said and done, I have contributed to the government coffers. I may contribute less, but that is NOT government assistance. They are not giving me anything. I am simply giving them less. They are not helping me out by letting me keep my OWN money, money I have worked hard for and earned.

 

When someone is on government assistance, the government is giving them something extra over and above what they have contributed. Yes, I used student loans to go to college, but I paid them back. The government didn't GIVE me anything- therefore that is not government assistance. (actually, when I went to college, I didn't use any of the government programs for loans- 30 years ago that was actually possible.)

 

As far as the OP, I think assistance programs are for those who need them. Short term, tough times, etc. Not something that is expected to be a life style. If the OP thinks her family truly needs this, she should apply. The very fact that she is agonizing over this shows she is not one who abuses the system.

 

I have heard the saying that government programs should be a safety net, not a hammock. I actually prefer the term trampoline- it should be something that helps you bounce right back to where you were or even get higher.

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#68 of 181 Old 02-04-2011, 10:08 AM
 
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I'm on fs and I feel if you need them and you are elgible for them to get them you don't want to have your family to go hungry. I will tell you if you have a saving accoutn they do take that in to consideration. I also want to ask a question I'm not a new mom but I have grown childern does that matter that I'm on this site. I would not give your animals away. When you do apply for food stamps they do get personal with you I'm just putting that in their.

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#69 of 181 Old 02-04-2011, 10:11 AM
 
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I find this argument interesting as well.  Those with higher incomes (per the IRS) don't qualify for nearly as many deductions and credits as those that are "low income".  Even though I'm taking a mortgage deduction every year, I'm still paying into the system that hands it out.  A lot of people with low income are allowed to use credits and deduction to effectively make their tax liability zero or possibly, get money back from the government, thus taking even more money from the system without paying in anything.  So, by using the argument below, should no one be allowed a tax deduction or tax credit so that everyone may contribute equally (or at least proportionately) to the system?

 

That said... I am for public assistance.  I think it's a wonderful thing that our country and tax payers are able to provide assistance to those in need.  I would never want to take that away.  *I* can't personally pass judgement on the OP because she gave us so little information.  If the only information given is that information to which she obviously feels conflicted about herself, how is it that I can derive a clear picture of their actual financial situation and determine whether or not I would take FS if I were in her shoes?  If the information given was more about "can I get FS if I have these expenses?" then I think the answer is clear... but IMO, the original question was more of a "if you were in my shoes and were able to pay for these items, would you get FS?"  Otherwise, why even bring up the fact that you have cable, internet, pets and newer cars? 

 

Originally Posted by mar123 View Post

 

I find the argument that taking a deduction on mortgage interest being government assistance ludicrous.

 

I am simply keeping the money I have earned in that case, the government is not giving me money over and above what I have paid. Each year, I have paid the government tax money. Doesn't matter how many deductions I take, when all is said and done, I have contributed to the government coffers. I may contribute less, but that is NOT government assistance. They are not giving me anything. I am simply giving them less. They are not helping me out by letting me keep my OWN money, money I have worked hard for and earned.

 

When someone is on government assistance, the government is giving them something extra over and above what they have contributed. Yes, I used student loans to go to college, but I paid them back. The government didn't GIVE me anything- therefore that is not government assistance. (actually, when I went to college, I didn't use any of the government programs for loans- 30 years ago that was actually possible.)

 

As far as the OP, I think assistance programs are for those who need them. Short term, tough times, etc. Not something that is expected to be a life style. If the OP thinks her family truly needs this, she should apply. The very fact that she is agonizing over this shows she is not one who abuses the system.

 

I have heard the saying that government programs should be a safety net, not a hammock. I actually prefer the term trampoline- it should be something that helps you bounce right back to where you were or even get higher.




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#70 of 181 Old 02-04-2011, 10:13 AM
 
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It might be different in other states because I know in vermont they ask if you have car, cable, retirement fund they asked every thing you said they don't. She needs to check on the website for here state and see what they will ask if you have.

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#71 of 181 Old 02-04-2011, 10:37 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mar123 View Post

I find the argument that taking a deduction on mortgage interest being government assistance ludicrous.

 

I am simply keeping the money I have earned in that case, the government is not giving me money over and above what I have paid. Each year, I have paid the government tax money. Doesn't matter how many deductions I take, when all is said and done, I have contributed to the government coffers. I may contribute less, but that is NOT government assistance. They are not giving me anything. I am simply giving them less. They are not helping me out by letting me keep my OWN money, money I have worked hard for and earned.

 

When someone is on government assistance, the government is giving them something extra over and above what they have contributed. Yes, I used student loans to go to college, but I paid them back. The government didn't GIVE me anything- therefore that is not government assistance. (actually, when I went to college, I didn't use any of the government programs for loans- 30 years ago that was actually possible.)

 

As far as the OP, I think assistance programs are for those who need them. Short term, tough times, etc. Not something that is expected to be a life style. If the OP thinks her family truly needs this, she should apply. The very fact that she is agonizing over this shows she is not one who abuses the system.

 

I have heard the saying that government programs should be a safety net, not a hammock. I actually prefer the term trampoline- it should be something that helps you bounce right back to where you were or even get higher.


ITA. 

 

I feel like getting the deduction on the mortgage interest is similar to getting the deductions for you children.  It would be like saying that everyone who has a child and gets to claim them, ultimately paying less on taxes, is getting government assistance to raise their children...   The mortgage insurance, child deductions are a completely different ball field. I'm not getting additional money over what I have earned from the government because I have children or own a house, I'm just getting to keep more of the money that I earned because I have those things.  Whereas someone who hasn't contributed to the system by means of taxes could still collect food stamps.  case in point my SIL found that when she started working that her subsidized housing rent went up, and she lost her food stamps, and her state health insurance... She found it easier to quit her job to lower her rent, get her food stamps back, and her health insurance.... rather than going to find a better paying job with health benefits, or switching to full-time work (which she could do) to be able to have more money for the things she needs.  She won't be contributing anything into the system in means of taxes but will be getting a whole lot. I feel there's a big difference between that and me being able to deduct my mortgage insurance.  I think it would be a different situation if the government said you could claim a deduction and pay less taxes if you're considered low income and can't afford food, and you took that money you were saving on taxes and spent it on food.

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#72 of 181 Old 02-04-2011, 11:24 AM
 
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Most loans are government loans; the government pays the interest while the student is in college. If you didn't take out a loan backed by the government, then the interest would accrue. Yikes, I chose the cheaper route of having the government loan opposed to owing interest immediately. Plus, unless you attend a private school, college is subsidized by the government. If it wasn't, a lot of people wouldn't ever be able to afford college. If you went to a state school (university), then the government did give you money.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by mar123 View Post

I find the argument that taking a deduction on mortgage interest being government assistance ludicrous.

 

I am simply keeping the money I have earned in that case, the government is not giving me money over and above what I have paid. Each year, I have paid the government tax money. Doesn't matter how many deductions I take, when all is said and done, I have contributed to the government coffers. I may contribute less, but that is NOT government assistance. They are not giving me anything. I am simply giving them less. They are not helping me out by letting me keep my OWN money, money I have worked hard for and earned.

 

When someone is on government assistance, the government is giving them something extra over and above what they have contributed. Yes, I used student loans to go to college, but I paid them back. The government didn't GIVE me anything- therefore that is not government assistance. (actually, when I went to college, I didn't use any of the government programs for loans- 30 years ago that was actually possible.)

 

As far as the OP, I think assistance programs are for those who need them. Short term, tough times, etc. Not something that is expected to be a life style. If the OP thinks her family truly needs this, she should apply. The very fact that she is agonizing over this shows she is not one who abuses the system.

 

I have heard the saying that government programs should be a safety net, not a hammock. I actually prefer the term trampoline- it should be something that helps you bounce right back to where you were or even get higher.

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#73 of 181 Old 02-04-2011, 11:49 AM
 
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Yes, but if you go to a state university then you're afforded the same opportunity as everyone else in this country... equally.  Getting into college is not based on income guidelines, but federal aid is and so is welfare... I just don't understand these arguments where everyone benefits the same... especially if you're paying taxes... you're paying into the system and taking out of the system... some people aren't paying into the system and are still receiving from the system... really? 

 

Now, grants and loans are different.  I didn't qualify for any type of federal grant or federal subsidized loan.  Therefore, if I had financed my education, it would have been through a private bank and my interest would have accrued throughout my college years.  However, I am thankful that I was able to pay for college outright... very thankful.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by sublimeliving View Post

Most loans are government loans; the government pays the interest while the student is in college. If you didn't take out a loan backed by the government, then the interest would accrue. Yikes, I chose the cheaper route of having the government loan opposed to owing interest immediately. Plus, unless you attend a private school, college is subsidized by the government. If it wasn't, a lot of people wouldn't ever be able to afford college. If you went to a state school (university), then the government did give you money.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by mar123 View Post

I find the argument that taking a deduction on mortgage interest being government assistance ludicrous.

 

I am simply keeping the money I have earned in that case, the government is not giving me money over and above what I have paid. Each year, I have paid the government tax money. Doesn't matter how many deductions I take, when all is said and done, I have contributed to the government coffers. I may contribute less, but that is NOT government assistance. They are not giving me anything. I am simply giving them less. They are not helping me out by letting me keep my OWN money, money I have worked hard for and earned.

 

When someone is on government assistance, the government is giving them something extra over and above what they have contributed. Yes, I used student loans to go to college, but I paid them back. The government didn't GIVE me anything- therefore that is not government assistance. (actually, when I went to college, I didn't use any of the government programs for loans- 30 years ago that was actually possible.)

 

As far as the OP, I think assistance programs are for those who need them. Short term, tough times, etc. Not something that is expected to be a life style. If the OP thinks her family truly needs this, she should apply. The very fact that she is agonizing over this shows she is not one who abuses the system.

 

I have heard the saying that government programs should be a safety net, not a hammock. I actually prefer the term trampoline- it should be something that helps you bounce right back to where you were or even get higher.




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#74 of 181 Old 02-04-2011, 12:03 PM
 
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I think our society has decided that "public assistance" is wrong and that is why it is labeled as it is.  Why I brought up the interest deduction is because it highlights that it is a MORAL issue, on that I feel many people are coming down on the wrong side of.

 

Let's picture all of the taxes the US govt is "owed."  Out of that they pay various things.  One thing they pay is food stamps.  Another is to return money to people based on their expenses.

 

So, for $5000 the government can help a low income family have food for the year.

For the same $5000, they can help a high income family have a house that costs $100K more than they could otherwise afford.

 

The first is considered a handout.  The family is considered lesser in some way for taking it.

The second is considered perfectly fine.  The family is considered smart and good planners for taking it.

 

In what way are they not BOTH public assistance?  There is a mortgage interest deduction because our society has deteremined that home-ownership is something that should be encouraged, AKA SUBSIDIZED, by the government.

There are food stamps because our society has determined that all members of our society should have access to adequate food.

 

If we are not going to attack those who take the interest deduction (of which I have for the past 10 years, btw, thanks!) for not being able to "support themselves" why should we attack those who take it for food.  After all, if you can't afford your house without the mortgage interest deduction maybe you should get rid of your pets, only have one car...

 

How has it become *more* honorable to take money you don't really need than to take money that makes a huge difference in your life?!?!?
 

 

I hope my further explanation has explained it a bit better.  See, I don't think it is selfish for the person to take the mortgage interest deduction and still have luxuries.  Just like I don't think that it is selfish for the person to take food stamps and still have luxuries.  They are both forms of public assistance, they are both obtained legally, they should be viewed THE SAME.  While I hear plenty of people saying it is wrong for someone to take food stamps AND have any luxuries, I don't hear anyone saying that it is wrong to take tax deductions ON LUXURIES and pay for ADDITIONAL LUXURIES with those tax deductions.  They are both using governmental tax money to pay for their individual luxuries.  NO DIFFERENCE.  (Well, to me there is a huge difference, because of the people I know paying >$30K mortgage interest yearly, they are spending probably more than a family on food stamps makes a year on luxuries with no moral qualms, but that doesn't mean I think they shouldn't take the deduction)
 

 

 

 

 

Bolding mine.  And these two highlighted comments conflict.  In the first instance, you argue that someone using mortgage interest deductions needs to do so in order to buy more house than they can afford.  Then you go on to state that they don't need the deductions.  I'm not following.  In any event . . .


To me, the glaring flaw in this argument is that it seems to be based on the presumption that people actually consider how much interest they are going to be able to deduct and consider that a determining factor in the consideration of how much house they can afford.  This argument is based on the presumption that people are in homes they could not otherwise afford without the ability to deduct their mortgage interest.  Something they get to do once a year.  When the mortgage payment is due every month -  twice a month for some.   This just doesn't make sense.

 

I do agree that as a matter of public policy, our government has determined that home ownership is a "good" thing (moral judgement) and therefore offers these deductions in order to encourage more home ownership.  I won't exclude that it is someone's reality that these deductions may inspire them to calculate how much more they can increase their W-2 withholdings in order to offset the refund they would otherwise get at the end of the year.  But, the big dollar deductions that go along with big dollar priced homes probably don't matter as much on the week to week, month to month take home for those type of home owners, so the argument just doesn't hold when you follow it to its logical end.

 

Presumably, then, since we have this entitlement program, our government has determined that subsidizing food for our citizenry is actually a "good" thing, too.

 

The sad thing is that the abuse of the food stamp program has been highlighted much more than the abuse of tax shelters (considering mortgage deductions a type of shelter for purposes of this discussion).  At least it is probably fair to say that the ability to spin the discussion on these issues is more in the hands of the tax shelter users than the food stamp users.

 

 


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#75 of 181 Old 02-04-2011, 12:12 PM
 
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Just because I went to a state college, doesn't mean they gave me money. Our state funds universities with sales tax, so technically everyone contributes. I paid in (my parents REALLY paid in), I went to the school, so in essence I got what I paid for. Again, I didn't get more than I had put in.

 

Many years ago, student loans were not all backed by the federal gov't. Even the ones you didn't finance through a bank. We had many, many choices. Now the loans are with the government, in essence. So the gov't isn't paying the interest. They are waiting until you can pay it.

 

I just think this argument that everyone takes some type of assistance is ridiculous and meant to make people feel guilty. I personally feel that our government is way too big and this movement to have the government be everyone's sugar daddy is what is causing our problems today. When teh government is picking up the tab, people don't see the true cost and it leads to personal irresponsibility. I have a more libertarian view than many here. I just think the government needs to get out of our lives and let personal responsibility take over. With gov't assistance comes rules and regulations. We can't have it both ways; freedom to do things the way we feel is best, but have the government fund it. It won't happen that way; never has, and never will.

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#76 of 181 Old 02-04-2011, 12:44 PM
 
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The mortgage interest deduction is not about the government imposing a moral "good" on the idea of home ownership but rather about giving people that own homes and therefore pay real estate property taxes a deduction that puts them more in line with people that have the same income but don't own homes and therefore pay no property taxes.

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#77 of 181 Old 02-04-2011, 12:53 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mama J Rock View Post

The mortgage interest deduction is not about the government imposing a moral "good" on the idea of home ownership but rather about giving people that own homes and therefore pay real estate property taxes a deduction that puts them more in line with people that have the same income but don't own homes and therefore pay no property taxes.



Well, I'm pretty sure my landlord isn't paying the property tax on the property in which I live out of the goodness of his heart. His property taxes are figured into my rent. 

 

The mortgage interest tax deduction is sold the way you describe, but IMO, all it does it subsidize debt and drive up housing prices. Why do I have to pay for my housing costs (rent) out of my net pay and a home owner does not? 

 

IMO, a big problem in our political discourse is that so many government subsidies are done through not taxing things. There's an exemption for the mortgage interest, the cost of health insurance, a credit for having a child and so on. Those ARE government subsidies, but are phrased in a way so they are unrecognized as such in political discourse. This allows us to criticize those on direct assistance, like food stamps, and frankly sets up a conflict based on social class .

 

I'd be in rough shape if I had to pay more taxes on my health insurance amounts, which are huge, so I'm not saying that I want this to change. I understand why that would be very difficult. But I can recognize that it contributes to a pretty dysfunctional social safety net. 

 

To the OP, I'd cut the cable and save the difference. You'd be better off in the long run. Lots of stuff is online for free, like on Hulu and such. I have no issue with your taking food stamps though, if you qualify for them. Frankly, they are fairly good for the economy, so I support them on those grounds alone, along with being a lefty type. 

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#78 of 181 Old 02-04-2011, 02:22 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Hannah32 View Post

The mortgage interest tax deduction is sold the way you describe, but IMO, all it does it subsidize debt and drive up housing prices. Why do I have to pay for my housing costs (rent) out of my net pay and a home owner does not? 

 

IMO, a big problem in our political discourse is that so many government subsidies are done through not taxing things. There's an exemption for the mortgage interest, the cost of health insurance, a credit for having a child and so on. Those ARE government subsidies, but are phrased in a way so they are unrecognized as such in political discourse. This allows us to criticize those on direct assistance, like food stamps, and frankly sets up a conflict based on social class .

 

Home owners create value that renters don't, and that value is good for the community. Areas with higher rates of owner-occupied homes have lower crime (and thus higher property values - more taxes!) rates. Homeowners purchase supplies and pay for maintenance workers, and renters tend not to do those things. The reality, though, is that many modest homeowners don't pay enough in interest on their mortgage to matter. We pay $600 a month in interest, so $7200 a year. That alone is not enough to get us above the standard deduction. In this way, yes the interest deduction is more beneficial to people who purchase more expensive homes (or live in regions with a higher COL, since our home would cost easily 2-3X more in CA or NY). At the same time, though, I don't think the interest deduction is the deciding factor for anyone. 

 

Certainly people who qualify for any actual assistance receive far more money than the average family saves in tax obligation from an interest deduction. In fact, a recent study showed that a family of 4 making $30,000 actually fared better than families of 4 making up to $44,999 because those families qualified for enough benefits that they made up the income difference through public assistance.

 

I do understand your point about subsidies through not taxing, but I don't think it's an entirely accurate view. Everyone who purchases a primary home can write off the interest. That's not dependent on your pay. Everyone who lives in a state and goes to a public university in that state pays the in-state tuition rate, regardless of the family's income. Everyone who drives can use roads funded through federal money. The difference with cash assistance, housing assistance, etc. is that one must meet certain criteria to qualify, so it is not, in fact, the same as interest deductions or other tax shelters.

 

I agree that we need a social safety net for our citizenry. It's in our best interest. I just don't think it's wrong to want people who choose that safety net to really need it. I also think public assistance should come with requirements that lead to you improving your life. I hear people complain about *only* getting $600 in food stamps, for instance. I believe those complaints are genuine. Those people really, truly don't know how to feed a family of 4 or 5 on $600 a month, and they could benefit from classes to help them with grocery shopping, budgeting, or - gasp! - cooking from scratch. (I know that many here who gets food stamps probably do cook from scratch often, but MDC is not a representative population.) THAT would be a true safety net.

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#79 of 181 Old 02-04-2011, 03:06 PM
 
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hmmmm... so following your logic, I could say that the child tax credit and child care credit encourage people to have more kids than they could otherwise afford.  Where's the logic in that?  Keep in mind that you don't receive as much of a benefit as most people believe.  In order to itemize, you must have more itemized deductions than the standard deduction.  Therefore, you're only receiving a benefit at the amount equal to your itemized deduction amount less the standard deduction.  I know for sure that we didn't figure in our marginal tax saved on the additional $3,000 we received this year as a result of taking the mortgage interest and property tax deduction when we decided to buy our house 4 years ago.  I don't think the mortgage interest deduction does anything to sway people to spend that extra $50,000 on a house that they shouldn't (as an example).  I think that's the banks doing as well as predatory lending. 

 

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The mortgage interest deduction is not about the government imposing a moral "good" on the idea of home ownership but rather about giving people that own homes and therefore pay real estate property taxes a deduction that puts them more in line with people that have the same income but don't own homes and therefore pay no property taxes.



Well, I'm pretty sure my landlord isn't paying the property tax on the property in which I live out of the goodness of his heart. His property taxes are figured into my rent. 

 

The mortgage interest tax deduction is sold the way you describe, but IMO, all it does it subsidize debt and drive up housing prices. Why do I have to pay for my housing costs (rent) out of my net pay and a home owner does not? 

 

IMO, a big problem in our political discourse is that so many government subsidies are done through not taxing things. There's an exemption for the mortgage interest, the cost of health insurance, a credit for having a child and so on. Those ARE government subsidies, but are phrased in a way so they are unrecognized as such in political discourse. This allows us to criticize those on direct assistance, like food stamps, and frankly sets up a conflict based on social class .

 

I'd be in rough shape if I had to pay more taxes on my health insurance amounts, which are huge, so I'm not saying that I want this to change. I understand why that would be very difficult. But I can recognize that it contributes to a pretty dysfunctional social safety net. 

 

To the OP, I'd cut the cable and save the difference. You'd be better off in the long run. Lots of stuff is online for free, like on Hulu and such. I have no issue with your taking food stamps though, if you qualify for them. Frankly, they are fairly good for the economy, so I support them on those grounds alone, along with being a lefty type. 




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I need honest opinions.  I believe we make the income requirements.  I applied, gathered and copied all the necessary paperwork to send in...then chickened out.  And this is why:

 

We have two cars: a 2005 (paid off) and a 2008 (just bought)--they're reliable, newer cars

We have 4 pets: 3 cats and a Rottweiler puppy.

We still have (basic+) cable and high speed internet. 

 

BUT:

DH got the only FT job he could find (believe me, he's been looking!) when he was laid off two years ago, I get as many PT hours at my job as i can, and we still don't make enough.

We pay for our bills and gas with what's in checking and take out $100/week for groceries and ALL expenses (clothes, household items, fun--EVERYTHING).

The only way we stay afloat is that i squirrel away money, but we're draining our savings just trying to pay the bills.

 

Would you get FS if you were in my place?

This has turned into an interesting discussion on politics :-)

 

OP, I feel like you are a little uncomfortable with the fs idea, listing what you have and wondering if you "should" even apply. You are right you have a lot. My opinion, since you asked, would be that I think food stamps are a set budget and you are wondering if you should apply to take money from that budget. If you do, someone who loses a job and really has nothing may hypothetically be denied later this year when funds are all tied up. Should that matter to you? I don't know and could not say. I am sure others know of many people with "more" than you and more unnecessary expenses who are already on food stamps.

 

I do want to point out, as others have, that in your case you do need to cut all the extra's you can. Your budget doesn't add up, and you should not be pulling from savings to pay for cable since this is not a short term income problem for you. Even if you do the food stamps, I would at least cut the cable and use any extra money to rebuild my savings asap in case you end up with even less income and need it for paying your real bills. Good luck with your decisions, I really do wish you the best!
 

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I forgot to mention that if you do cut cable, and manage to cut TV watching as well (i.e. you don't watch dvds instead) you might save a lot on electricity.  We all but eliminated TV watching for a while and it was amazing how much our electric bill went down.  It depends on what kind of TV you have.

 

So many things are luxuries if you think about it.... when we were poor I would think of people in the third world, the truly poor, and realize how much more I had compared to them.  Running water, a roof, access to healthcare.  I find that's a good way to think about things when you're trying to cut spending.  What do you REALLY need just to stay alive and reasonably healthy?

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Off-Topic a little...

 

agreeing with LifewithSage on the mortgage interest..

 

When we bought our first house 7 years ago, DH and I were only 21.. I had no idea about using the interest paid on your mortgage and real estate taxes as a tax deduction.  Nevermind trying to figure that into how much we'd be able to spend on a home.  I looked at how much we could afford for a mortgage each month, current interest rates and prices of homes and we bought a house we could afford.  Same thing when we sold that house and bought our current house, the tax deduction for the mortgage interest never even crossed my mind.  Maybe when you're getting into really high priced homes and working with a financial planner or something you take the interest deduction into consideration and are able to spend more money on the purchase price, but I don't see the average person doing that.

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hmmmm... so following your logic, I could say that the child tax credit and child care credit encourage people to have more kids than they could otherwise afford.  Where's the logic in that?  Keep in mind that you don't receive as much of a benefit as most people believe.  In order to itemize, you must have more itemized deductions than the standard deduction.  Therefore, you're only receiving a benefit at the amount equal to your itemized deduction amount less the standard deduction.  I know for sure that we didn't figure in our marginal tax saved on the additional $3,000 we received this year as a result of taking the mortgage interest and property tax deduction when we decided to buy our house 4 years ago.  I don't think the mortgage interest deduction does anything to sway people to spend that extra $50,000 on a house that they shouldn't (as an example).  I think that's the banks doing as well as predatory lending. 

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#83 of 181 Old 02-04-2011, 04:24 PM
 
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I find the argument that taking a deduction on mortgage interest being government assistance ludicrous.

 

I am simply keeping the money I have earned in that case, the government is not giving me money over and above what I have paid. Each year, I have paid the government tax money. Doesn't matter how many deductions I take, when all is said and done, I have contributed to the government coffers. I may contribute less, but that is NOT government assistance. They are not giving me anything. I am simply giving them less. They are not helping me out by letting me keep my OWN money, money I have worked hard for and earned.


Agreed.... saying that a tax deduction is a handout in the same vein of food stamps doesn't make sense, because the income is yours, in the first place, to deduct.  The poster making this comparison seems to think the income somehow "belongs" to the government to begin with, and that by not paying it to the government, you are in fact taking it!  dizzy.gif

 

A better comparison would have been public school.  This is a handout that is "socially acceptable" and no one is looked down on for expecting the government to fork over 15k+ a year for their child to be educated.

 

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#84 of 181 Old 02-04-2011, 04:29 PM
 
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Originally Posted by sonrisaa29 View Post

I Would be concerned that I could be taking it away from a family that needs it more .that being said where I live people get 350 to 1000 a month in food stamps and I would love to have that cushion as well..but since I could cut out other things and I am not actually starving I know there are people who might need it more...


 I can see that attitude toward using  a food pantry, but is there a certain amount of money allocated toward food stamps per state, and once that is gone, no new recipients are allowed even though they qualify? Genuine question, I really don't know.

 

As to the idea of not getting foods stamps because of having cable, where do you draw the line at intrusion into others' budgets? Should we take into account how high the thermostat is, whether they "overspend" on food because they buy organics, ask whether they use the cheapest brand of toilet paper?

 

IMO, if you meet the qualifications, then you should have no qualms about receiving the assistance.
 

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#85 of 181 Old 02-04-2011, 05:14 PM
 
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 I can see that attitude toward using  a food pantry, but is there a certain amount of money allocated toward food stamps per state, and once that is gone, no new recipients are allowed even though they qualify? Genuine question, I really don't know.

 

As to the idea of not getting foods stamps because of having cable, where do you draw the line at intrusion into others' budgets? Should we take into account how high the thermostat is, whether they "overspend" on food because they buy organics, ask whether they use the cheapest brand of toilet paper?

 

IMO, if you meet the qualifications, then you should have no qualms about receiving the assistance.
 


This exactly.  I think it is really unfair to say someone who needs government assistance shouldn't have any luxuries.  I ALWAYS hear this as an argument over assistance and it boggles my mind.  Why SHOULDN'T someone who works their butts off trying to make ends meet spend 30-50 dollars on cable each month?  Will that money will make the difference between feeling the need to use food stamps and feeling comfortable without them?  Cable is entertainment.  The point to television is to escape life and enjoy something fictional.  Someone living below the poverty line whom the government says qualifies for food stamps certainly should be able to veg out once in awhile and just relax without thinking about money or working.  having one unnecessary thing that allows them to enjoy themselves isn't abusing the system.  We can't all draw happiness from working non stop for little reward.

 

and where DO you draw the line for luxuries?  I can see being able to buy a brand new tricked out SUV, have a brand new iphone with all the bells and whistles, going out to eat multiple times a week, buying only the most expensive organic brands of food and designer clothing, and having the best most expensive internet and cable options out there on the best and most expensive computer and tv being an issue... but would someone with that much disposable income qualify anyway?  There ARE rules after all for those who can get assistance.  Does the system need to be fixed?  Maybe... but its not like anyone can just waltz in and say 'hey!  give me 300 bucks for groceries!'  It doesn't work that way.  Besides, anyone getting assistance pays taxes in the first place.  Who is to say the amount they are getting in assistance isn't equal to the amount they've paid in over time?  It could very well be THEIR money anyway, meant to help those in need... and now they are in need.

 

I've heard people complain about how they saw someone with a coach bag using food stamps and CLEARLY they are abusing the system.  If they needed food stamps, they shouldn't be able to have a coach bag.  Nevermind that it might have been a gift, or that they might have acquired before hitting hard times... the mere act of having something nice and expensive is indicative of the fact that the government just gives anyone who asks all sorts of money to waste.  I've heard people complaining about someone buying soda and chips with food stamps... never mind that this might have been their only vice for all they know or it could have been for their kid's birthday party... they should only be buying rice and beans and frozen veggies!  And that is really what it comes down to...

 

when you are poor, you are expected to live how others tell you and heaven forbid you do anything differently!  You don't deserve assistance if you won't let everyone and their mother all up in your business telling you what you should be doing at all times.  being poor either means asking for help and losing rights to your own life or not asking for help and risking losing you home or your car or your children.

 

the truth is, we could all survive just fine living in a small cabin with no electricity and only a well or a running stream/river for water and two changes of clothes and only the food we can grow, raise and trade for.  Few people choose to live that way.  We choose to have the luxury of electricity and entertainment and vehicles and indoor plumbing.  Next time you run into money troubles, should you turn off your electricity?  Pee outside so as not to use water?  Sell all your books to earn extra cash?

 

OP, if you would feel more comfortable having food stamps to help out and you qualify, it isn't wrong to use them.  Having pets doesn't mean you don't deserve help.  Having the internet so you don't have to rely on the business hours of the library or use gas to drive to a place with wifi isn't living beyond your means.  If cable is your only real luxury and it helps you get through the hard times then you aren't being a bad and selfish citizen.  These are all small in the grand scheme of things.  You'll know where you need to cut back and I'm sure you are plenty smart enough to know when to weigh your happiness against the money you could be using from the cable bill on something more necessary and the price of gas against the price of internet.  You'll know if parting with your furry family is more important than keeping them and not having enough money because of how much they might be taking.

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#86 of 181 Old 02-04-2011, 05:42 PM
 
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I agree with this... I think that if you qualify for it and need it then you should have it.  I don't begrudge someone having additional expenses because in all honesty, if they're income is low enough that they qualify for food stamps then that extra little bit probably isn't going to make a huge difference in their bills every month... or at least not enough to keep them from needing these services.

 

However, the OP seemed to wonder if these "luxuries" should preclude her from taking FS because she specifically listed them in her OP without regard to other expenses.  It seems to me that if she thought it was just fine and did not present any sort of ethical issue that she wouldn't have specifically stated that they had money in their budget for these specific items?  I'm just not entirely certain what the original question was... was it "if you could pay for these costs, would you take food stamps?" or a general, "if you qualified for FS would you take them?"  I think this would have been a different discussion if those items were left out.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by sonrisaa29 View Post

I Would be concerned that I could be taking it away from a family that needs it more .that being said where I live people get 350 to 1000 a month in food stamps and I would love to have that cushion as well..but since I could cut out other things and I am not actually starving I know there are people who might need it more...


 I can see that attitude toward using  a food pantry, but is there a certain amount of money allocated toward food stamps per state, and once that is gone, no new recipients are allowed even though they qualify? Genuine question, I really don't know.

 

As to the idea of not getting foods stamps because of having cable, where do you draw the line at intrusion into others' budgets? Should we take into account how high the thermostat is, whether they "overspend" on food because they buy organics, ask whether they use the cheapest brand of toilet paper?

 

IMO, if you meet the qualifications, then you should have no qualms about receiving the assistance.
 




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#87 of 181 Old 02-04-2011, 11:58 PM
 
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Originally Posted by mar123 View Post

I find the argument that taking a deduction on mortgage interest being government assistance ludicrous.

 

I am simply keeping the money I have earned in that case, the government is not giving me money over and above what I have paid. Each year, I have paid the government tax money. Doesn't matter how many deductions I take, when all is said and done, I have contributed to the government coffers. I may contribute less, but that is NOT government assistance. They are not giving me anything. I am simply giving them less. They are not helping me out by letting me keep my OWN money, money I have worked hard for and earned.

 

When someone is on government assistance, the government is giving them something extra over and above what they have contributed. Yes, I used student loans to go to college, but I paid them back. The government didn't GIVE me anything- therefore that is not government assistance. (actually, when I went to college, I didn't use any of the government programs for loans- 30 years ago that was actually possible.) 


Actually, if the person is working, they are paying taxes.  The majority of people (in the US) pay more in payroll taxes than in federal income taxes.  Those who make less money also *statistically* recieve social security for shorter time periods.  Additionally, there are a variety of taxes that most people end up paying (local & state taxes, sales taxes, etc...).

 

And yes, I do consider everyone to "owe" the government the amount of money their tax bracket would suggest they pay.  Deductions on top of the standard deduction are, in effect, paid for by the people who are not elligible for them.


 

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Bolding mine.  And these two highlighted comments conflict.  In the first instance, you argue that someone using mortgage interest deductions needs to do so in order to buy more house than they can afford.  Then you go on to state that they don't need the deductions.  I'm not following.  In any event . . .


To me, the glaring flaw in this argument is that it seems to be based on the presumption that people actually consider how much interest they are going to be able to deduct and consider that a determining factor in the consideration of how much house they can afford.  This argument is based on the presumption that people are in homes they could not otherwise afford without the ability to deduct their mortgage interest.  Something they get to do once a year.  When the mortgage payment is due every month -  twice a month for some.   This just doesn't make sense.

... 

 

The sad thing is that the abuse of the food stamp program has been highlighted much more than the abuse of tax shelters (considering mortgage deductions a type of shelter for purposes of this discussion).  At least it is probably fair to say that the ability to spin the discussion on these issues is more in the hands of the tax shelter users than the food stamp users.

 

 



I do not see the contradiction.  The mortgage interest deduction allows people to buy more house than they could otherwise afford, often times more house than they *need.*  Therefore, from my perspective, they don't actually *need* the deduction--- they could either rent or buy a house they could afford without the deduction.

 

 

People should consider the tax consequences of home ownership.  I know we did.  Even the most basic home-buying books ("Homebuying for Dummies") includes how to calculate if you will be itemizing.  I know it has made a big difference for a lot of the people we know (both people with homes in the $1+million range and those who are already itemize due to tithing making *all* of their mortgage interest deductable).  I think if you really think through my arguement, you will see it does make sense from my perspective.  The people I know who recieve the most from mortgaqge interest deductions do not *need* the money.  They're not worrying about the monthly mortgage payment, so it doesn't matter if they only get the money back once a year.  Instead, it is just a bonus $5K. 

 

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Originally Posted by Mama J Rock View Post

The mortgage interest deduction is not about the government imposing a moral "good" on the idea of home ownership but rather about giving people that own homes and therefore pay real estate property taxes a deduction that puts them more in line with people that have the same income but don't own homes and therefore pay no property taxes.

 

I disagree.  Tax deductions are often about encouraging or discouraging certain behaviors.  Our society places a large value on home ownership and tries to encourage people with tax breaks.  You don't see tax deductions for interest for buying a $150K car instead of a $10K car because it's not something the "people" have decided is financially worth encouraging. 

 

If it is cheaper to own or rent is based more on location than anything else.

 

 

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Off-Topic a little...

 

agreeing with LifewithSage on the mortgage interest..

 

When we bought our first house 7 years ago, DH and I were only 21.. I had no idea about using the interest paid on your mortgage and real estate taxes as a tax deduction.  Nevermind trying to figure that into how much we'd be able to spend on a home.  I looked at how much we could afford for a mortgage each month, current interest rates and prices of homes and we bought a house we could afford.  Same thing when we sold that house and bought our current house, the tax deduction for the mortgage interest never even crossed my mind.  Maybe when you're getting into really high priced homes and working with a financial planner or something you take the interest deduction into consideration and are able to spend more money on the purchase price, but I don't see the average person doing that. 


Well, simply by buying a home at 21 you obviously weren't "average."

 

My initial arguement stands, though--- the government loses $5K of tax money to both families: one for food stamps for a year, the other for each extra $100K (approximately) of value in their home over a certain amount.
 

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Agreed.... saying that a tax deduction is a handout in the same vein of food stamps doesn't make sense, because the income is yours, in the first place, to deduct.  The poster making this comparison seems to think the income somehow "belongs" to the government to begin with, and that by not paying it to the government, you are in fact taking it!  dizzy.gif

 

A better comparison would have been public school.  This is a handout that is "socially acceptable" and no one is looked down on for expecting the government to fork over 15k+ a year for their child to be educated.

 



Excellent comparison.  As stated before, I do consider each person DOES owe the government a certain amount of money.  If you instead do things to pay a lesser amount you *are* taking it from them.  Its simply a matter of symantics, though.

 

Discussions like this always frustrate me because it seems like many people who are so very opposed to food stamps and other assistance programs seem almost... angry (and I am not talking about posters on here, just in general)... about the idea that someone, somewhere is getting something they are not.  But, if you *really* think it's such a great thing to have to explain all your finances over and over to strangers, get looked at funny in the store, never have comfortable savings, etc... they can just live that way themselves.  Personally, I believe that adequate food is a human right and, as such, should be guaranteed to all.


 

 

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#88 of 181 Old 02-05-2011, 02:56 AM
 
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Exactly! You paid (obviously at the time not equivalent) in, and took full advantage of the public program. Just like a lot of people do with PUBLIC high school, or a PUBLIC library, or PUBLIC assistance. People on food stamps do work-they are low income, not dead beats. There is a small percentage that don't contribute, and take assistance; just like there is a small percentage of people that don't work and send their kids to public school, use the library, drive on the roads, and call the police. EVERYONE uses tax money (any kind of tax money). It doesn't matter if you think you fully payed it back, you used it. It's the same as using the money for food stamps. To assume that people on food stamps don't work, have never worked, or are not going to work to pay taxes, is unbelievable. They are (At a time when they need it; they're deemed in need by professionals.), getting what they paid for. 
 

 

You said, " We can't have it both ways; freedom to do things the way we feel is best, but have the government fund it. It won't happen that way; never has, and never will." 

I agree w/ you. I homeschool; I pay for my children's education (down to the penny). I do this because I want to choose what I feel is best. Although, I in no way feel that taxes shouldn't support public schools or any other government run program. If people want to send their kids to a government run institution, then I think they should be able to. 

 

I understand your point of view. Really, I do. We just believe differently. 

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Just because I went to a state college, doesn't mean they gave me money. Our state funds universities with sales tax, so technically everyone contributes. I paid in (my parents REALLY paid in), I went to the school, so in essence I got what I paid for. Again, I didn't get more than I had put in.

 

Many years ago, student loans were not all backed by the federal gov't. Even the ones you didn't finance through a bank. We had many, many choices. Now the loans are with the government, in essence. So the gov't isn't paying the interest. They are waiting until you can pay it.

 

I just think this argument that everyone takes some type of assistance is ridiculous and meant to make people feel guilty. I personally feel that our government is way too big and this movement to have the government be everyone's sugar daddy is what is causing our problems today. When teh government is picking up the tab, people don't see the true cost and it leads to personal irresponsibility. I have a more libertarian view than many here. I just think the government needs to get out of our lives and let personal responsibility take over. With gov't assistance comes rules and regulations. We can't have it both ways; freedom to do things the way we feel is best, but have the government fund it. It won't happen that way; never has, and never will.

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#89 of 181 Old 02-05-2011, 07:17 AM
 
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I suppose, from my point of view, I'd rather see lots of people get helped by food stamps, even if there is a little bit of abuse/waste in the system.  The income limit is $22,000 a year.  Where I live (a moderate cost of living city in the south), that wouldn't go very far.  I don't begrudge someone with that income taking food stamps AT ALL.  In fact, I'm thinking, TAKE THEM!!!  That frees up additional money that will allow for some savings, some education to get a better job so that someday that won't need food stamps, some piece of mind so that they don't make themselves sick with worry, or whatever. 

 

And, I've stood behind someone paying for crablegs with food stamps.  It does cause a moment of question on my part.  Cause I know that my $80/week budget can't handle crab legs.  But, in the end, like I said, I'd rather there be some abuse/waste and know that lots of people are able to feed their kids and not go to bed hungry.  In the end, there's a greater good in this country (which is a great, wonderful country) ensuring that people aren't hungry.

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#90 of 181 Old 02-05-2011, 09:22 AM
 
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As a cashier, I have sold fresh lobster to somebody who paid with food stamps. I'm still irritated about it 15 years later. But when it comes right down to it, the income limits for FS are so low that I think anybody who qualifies should take them. I also think there should be a limited selection of staple items that FS will cover, but that's a whole 'nother thread.

 

OP, you obviously need to adjust things in your household until income exceeds expenses. You already know this. If food stamps tide you over during that process, then I'm calling that a good use of my tax dollars. 

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