There was an interesting post over at The Broke and Beautiful Life. In it, the author examines the idea of telling people receiving “entitlements” (ugh) how to spend it. For example, should people who have to live in subsidized housing be getting pets? Should we make welfare recipients eat better?
To her credit, she’s not comfortable telling people how to live. She’s just also not necessarily comfortable with supporting people’s bad habits, I suppose.
And I don’t think that any of us love the idea of people in poverty eating poorly. As TBBL points out, eating poorly can lead to future health problems, presumably dealt with on the government’s dime as well. Fair enough. Poor eating will generally lead to poor health. On the other hand, most people develop some health problems as they age, which would eventually be covered under Medicare. Plenty of diseases attack based on family history or crappy luck.
But I will concede that eating healthily is a good preventative measure. So ideally we would ask people receiving government funds to attend some healthy cooking classes. That would be a good idea. Here’s a few things that I think financially comfortable people might forget, though:
- What do the people do with their kids when they go take the class?
- Can they afford the gas money/bus fare to get to the class?
- Do they have access to a store that actually sells healthy food?
- Do they get enough in food stamps to be able to afford even cheap fruits and vegetables? Even canned fruit and vegetables can be around $2 each.
Other than that I think the idea is flawless.
The thing is that I feel her discomfort. I hate the idea of people feeding their kids and themselves crap. I don’t care that it’s “our” money their spending. Because it isn’t. The check is in their name. Unless you want to start bitching about how your roads or your garbage dumps are maintained, I suggest you accept that the money is theirs. What I hate is that they’re spending their limited funds on it. .
But I’m not comfortable telling people what they can and can’t spend food stamps on. I think the current restrictions (no cigarettes, alcohol, etc) are enough. At least for my own comfort level.
If you’re someone who does feel comfortable with more oversight, then I want you to go lecture some old people about their money. I mean, Social Security is checks sent by the government to people who aren’t working, or at least aren’t working full-time anymore. Isn’t that welfare? Should they really be using our money on pet food or dinners out?
Oh, right. It’s different because people “earn” Social Security. Even though the money they get is technically from workers today, not money set aside from the FICA taxes they themselves paid. But they worked, unlike all those shiftless layabouts on welfare, like Walmart employees and fast food workers. And it’s not as though people ever accrue Social Security benefits without working. There are absolutely no spousal benefits available or Supplemental Security Income.
So go find some little old grandmothers and review their lifestyles. Or a solider. Military families redeemed $104 million in food stamps in military commissaries in 2013. (Notice that’s not including regular grocery stores. Just the ones on base.) And they live in the ultimate form of subsidized housing. Tell them they don’t deserve a family dog.
And if you’re not comfortable doing that, then butt the hell out of the rest of it.
What are your thoughts on dictating how these funds are spent? Do you think food stamps should have more restrictions?