Today on the news I heard that 67.8 percent of eligible people in 24 large urban areas studied participated in the program in 2006. While it would be interesting to know if more people are taking advantage now, the data isn’t there. I can’t think of an impetus for why the they’d suddenly change their habits in the past two years.
I’m very saddened by this news. I can never understand why people don’t take advantage of free things to better their lives. Perhaps it’s that people have too much pride to take hand-outs. In fact, I think that might be a lot of it. Still, if someone is offering you a chance at a better life, isn’t it worth taking it?
Sometimes I like to think the problem is simply making people aware of the problem. That seems like a much easier thing than getting to people to swallow their pride and take charity.
What are your thoughts? Are you as disheartened as I am that the assistance is there for the taking? Maybe I’m just having a pessimistic day, but it’s easy to take a step further and wonder about donating to charity in general. Perhaps I shouldn’t focus on that, and instead realize that 67.8% of the people are getting assistance. That’s a lot more people than if there were no assistance available.
Barak Obama says
The people who qualify are probably too dumb or too lazy to jump through the required hoops to get these handouts.
Aya @ Thrive says
I think a lot of people just don’t know what’s being offered or they don’t know that they qualify. Sure, pride might be getting in people’s way but for people that really need it, I don’t think they’ll get too caught up in the petty things like that. It might also be that they don’t know how to go about getting that information because they’re caught up in so many other things that they have to face in getting ends to meet.
There are likely some people who qualify who happen to have a better personal safety net. (A strong family, or friends or church who can help them out.)
There are undoubtedly also people who need it, but who don’t happen to qualify on paper.
“I’m very saddened by this news. I can never understand why people don’t take advantage of free things to better their lives. ”
But it’s not free. That’s just it. Someone pays for it whether they want to or not. I qualified for a great deal of state “aid” for many years, and I’m proud to say that I never applied for a penny of it, no matter how bad things got. I didn’t take it because I’m not willing to come to your house with a gun and take money from you that you earned through hard work, and I’m not willing to have my proxy (the state) use force to take it from you.
Undoubtedly a certain percentage of the people not participating in these programs are electing not to do so because they see theft as theft, no matter who is doing the stealing.
I can see both sides of the issue. Not using a program out of pride is fine, especially if you don’t need it. On the other hand, if pride is causing your children to go hungry then I have a real problem with that.
See now, I have to respectfully disagree that it’s theft. You’re paying the taxes for the state aid, whether people take advantage of it or not. So how is it any better that eligible people *aren’t* using the funds available — if your money is gone all the same?
And even if you believe that it is theft, most people on food stamps are working or have worked (if they are currently on disability/unemployment) so they pay/paid the same taxes you do. Why is it theft for them to take advantage of the services being offered by the government, which is run at least partially by their tax dollars?
I have a disability that kept me from working at all for a few years. I’m just now getting back to a point where I can work about 15 hours a week. So I’ve been on food stamps. And I can honestly say that it was a last-choice scenario.
I don’t think you understand how little you make if you qualify for food stamps. Before I went back to work, my husband was laid off. Luckily, he qualified for unemployment. Together, we made just over $2,000 a month and we made too much to qualify.
We would have to make $1400 or less a month, as two people. This is in Seattle, where the average 1 BR apartment now runs at LEAST $600. Most are above $750.
Just something to think about when you talk about people using the help that they very much need, and which is offered to them, as “stealing.”
Frugal Dad says
If we are talking about a single mom, or a dad trying to support his family, and they are letting pride come between assistance for their children, then yes, that is very sad. If we are talking about a single guy who is too lazy to hold down a job, but also too lazy to apply for aid, well I don’t feel very sorry for him. Aid is there for those who truly need it, and they should take advantage of it in a short term crisis (but not as a way of life).
I think that food stamps for alot of people are viewed as hitting bottom. I would like to think if their situation gets bad enough they will enroll in the program. I personally feel that having certain programs like this are an economic benefit to me. I would rather my tax dollars go towards a domestic benefit program than to countless other initiatives that my tax money is spent on these days. I do however, want to see greater control over these programs so that we minimize those people that try to work the system for their own greed.
Every year when I file my taxes through H&R Block’s website, we’re notified that we qualify for food stamps and government assistance. It was a bit shocking the first time I saw that, so I went to the government website… sure enough, we qualify.
I would call our family middle class. We live simply, and don’t need a lot of money to be happy.
Even though we qualify for assistance, we wouldn’t apply unless we *really* needed it. But I can see how some eligible families don’t take advantage of the program – it doesn’t feel right when there are people who need that help much more than us.
The difference between cities was surprising to me. 98% of eligible people in Detroit get food stamps, but only 29% in San Diego? Only 8 other cities are under 60% – and none under 42% – so SD’s 29% is a bit surprising.
On the flip side, 98% in Detroit seems amazing. You’d think a portion of the population would be like Stacey and not even be aware that they are eligible – or be so close to the cutoff that they aren’t aware that something has cause them to suddenly become eligible (their incomes rose at a slower rate than the elgibility requirements, they had another child, etc)
Mr. Nickle says
I used food stamps a couple of times when I was very young and in a desperate situation.
Staying on the program longer than 30 days is very difficult (and in my case, I found it impossible). The most it seemed possible to get out of it was 90 consecutive days in 1 year, but I was never able to get more than 30 days (even though I was basically going hungry without them).
Mrs. D says
My daughter who is a single parent applied for assistance — we were sure she would qualify. Especially since she had no money left over after paying all her bills but was denied, made too much money. To help her make ends meet to cover everyday expenses such as car payment, insurance, gas, childcare, medical coverage we had her and our grandson move in with us otherwise they would be homeless. In order for her to qualify she could only work part-time which wouldn’t provide her with enough to pay for childcare so that was not an option. To put it nicely, it is a broken system that is very bureaucratic and encourages dependency. She is on her own again and may not ever again apply for assistance, instead she chooses to struggle a bit instead of becoming obligated even more to the government.
Lazy Man says
That’s an interesting view. I don’t know how I could live life like that. I mean anything that tax dollars pay for could be viewed the same way. For instance, what about using the public school system or social security?
I think of food stamps as getting out of it what you put in. It’s just like using your own tax dollars.
irina @ mylifeandart.typepad.com says
I think social services should get into educating people more. Food stamps will always have their limits. There are tones of opportunities to earn now, both off-line and online.
I am a self-employed. I make about 30% of what I can potentially make with my line of work (event entertainment) because I also take care of my husband who doesn’t work. My work is totally low tech and doesn’t require any Internet skills.
But I cheerfully watch how people make all kind of money on eBay, on blogs and in every way imaginable online.
I just wish social services got into business of helping people to discover their potential. I, for example, wrote step-by-step on how anyone can do what I do http://is.gd/12Di and never depend on any employer or food stamps.
There are tones of other honest how-to make money websites. Take this blog for example. I have been reading this blog for over a year and it is a great example of an income-producing blog! :-)
I think it is a combination of a number of factors. If you don’t have stores near you that offer anything useful with food stamps, you might not want to bother. Or, if you have a safety net that can help also. I suspect also that a number of people who qualify for food stamps also qualify for WIC, which is a much better program. And then I think you are also right that people just don’t know about it or how to access it.
Eastside Food Geek says
Kosmo mentioned the high percentage of eligible people in Detroit who are signed up. It makes a lot of sense to me for three reasons:
Detroit, and Michigan, has been in bad shape for a long time, and therefore all the other alternatives have been used up for most people.
Then there is the fact that Detroit is a union town, and so there is a much higher awareness that there IS a safety net, and a network of people to help you find it.
And the last point is just about the difference between Detroit and San Diego: San Diego has more immigrants, and even legal immigrants are more wary of the government, and tend to rely on their own community more.
Funny about Money says
I’m with Mrs. D… The complications involved in collecting on services we’ve paid tax dollars for, over many years, are extremely off-putting.
With possible layoffs around the corner, I recently looked into unemployment insurance. It’s a pain to qualify, you have to keep going back every week to beg for more, and you have to prove to some bureaucrat that you’re applying for work. If you get ONE payment from any other source, you’re disqualified for that week.
For example, the university will owe me for about a year’s worth of unused vacation time, which will come to the equivalent of a month’s pay. I will need to put that money aside to cover COBRA — meaning i can’t use it to live on. When my secretary quit, it was over a month after her last paycheck before she got the vacation pay…GDU doesn’t pay it out with your last paycheck. So this means when that pay comes in, I will lose a week of unemployment insurance.
Having an extra income stream adds a complication. I get irregular checks from various freelance editorial clients, none of which is enough to cover a week’s expenses. But any one of those checks disqualifies me from unemployment.
If you have retirement savings, food stamps are out of the question, even if a reasonable drawdown from those savings is not enough to buy groceries and keep a roof over your head.
When you look into these things, you realize they’re hardly worth the effort, hassle, and humiliation involved in applying.
Sean O'Leary says
The person “Crocuta” who stated taking Food Stamps was akin to stealing, and didn’t want to take any herself because the goverment was stealing from others to give to needy individuals – is living, breathing proof that there are ignorant individuals exist out there who have absolutely no business drawing breath. I feel disgusted knowing we share the same planet. If anyone believes that it’s impossible for them to fall into a rut due to strange circumstances, not looking ahead and anticipating, or simply not possessing any skills due to whatever, and not ever needing assistance, that person is out of touch with the real world.
So driving on roads made by a government entity is stealing ?
There may be many reasons that eligible people aren’t using food stamps. They don’t feel they need it, they are using other sources for food, ie food shelves, catholic charities, family, etc. And that is totally a better option. Wouldn’t ZERO be the ultimate goal for people on Food stamps? Zero on welfare, ect? That should be the goal. Cut out the nanny state.
tiredofbeing judged says
I am a mother of 5, I go to school full time and work full time I am tired of people saying that they pay for my benifits, because you pay taxes. you would still pay taxes if I didn’t get benefits, and furthermore I pay taxes too so deal with it. I take pride in the fact my children have hard working parents that are just trying to make ends meet, and they never had to go to bed hungry…..THANK YOU….
tiredof beingdenied says
I applied a few tiems for help and was told because we don’t have kids at home we did not qualify. I was only trying to get enough foodstamps to buy ensure plus for my husband who was going thru strong chemo. I couldn’t get help so we lost our home, lived in car in the woods for months. It took us three years to even get a roof over our head, then we had to get a bed to sleep in. Why you say? I say we were the wrong color. I worked at convenience store and saw black welfare/foodstamp reciepients buying 50.-100$$ lottery tickets every week not to mention 25-30 $$ daily lottery tickets
“I’m very saddened by this news. I can never understand why people don’t take advantage of free things to better their lives.” Don’t you understand that it is not free!! Somebody is paying for those food stamps. The government has no money of its own, the money comes from tax payers. Did you ever stop to think that some people don’t want to take money that somebody else has had to pay.
Lazy Man says
You argument would be true for any government assisted programs. Should I not use libraries because someone’s tax money went to it? That logic just doesn’t right, Dan.
I’m a tax payer, and I’m happy to have my tax money help those in need. If I didn’t want that I’d vote for politician who could change it. Typically those who are on food stamps are tax payers themselves.
We used to get food stamps ( for five months ) and everyday I had to go look for work, and then finally my SSD was approved. I was glad because I couldn’t work, but these people don’t care about your health, if you are a man. A woman has a baby every 16 months and she doesn’t have to work because she has to stay home, and look after the unwanted baby.