Welfare and the United States


All dressed up for food stamp day



But a stigma placed on cash-like welfare (which food stamps are) remains a positive sign of a healthy work ethic. If you came across two societies–Society A, in which food stamps were stigmatized, with families reluctant to go on the dole even if they were eligible, and Society B, in which they weren’t, you would want to bet on (and live in) Society A. It’s one thing to relax the stigma on welfare in times of epic economic decline. It’s another if the stigma doesn’t return with the possibility of employment.

I read the Times article this morning and was struck by the fact that, if we really have 25% of all children in this country on food stamps, there’s something wrong with the people deciding to have children, and a system that encourages them to be so irresponsible is both cruel and doomed.


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6 responses to “Welfare and the United States

  1. Helsa Poppin

    Articles like this always strike me as being very contrived, where it’s clear that the NYT went out of its way to find “worthy poor” so as to convince its readers that welfare programs are necessary. There are code words like “churchgoing” sprinkled throughout, and several of the people note that they always thought food stamp recipients were lazy, until they themselves needed aid (hear that, you smug conservative reader – it could be you at the food pantry one day!). Pains are also taken to report that they use their benefits solely to buy wholesome fresh food.

    I did feel tremendous sympathy for all of the people in this article, so it accomplished its goal, though at times I did catch myself thinking, five kids? And you own your house? Still, even this hard-hearted libertarian can’t get too worked up about a safety net to make sure people aren’t starving. What does annoy me is the attempt of the NYT to manipulate emotion rather than report an objective story about the increase in the welfare roles. Its poverty porn, and I think on some level it is insulting to the people who are so patronizingly described in the article, and misleading in that I imagine that the majority of the people on welfare little resemble these folks who may be experiencing temporary setbacks.

  2. John

    This is a surprise to whom exactly? During the Johnson years some liberals were astonished to learn that you can’t make people rich by giving them money. As a society we have lost ground in terms of common sense since that statement was made. How sad that our leadership has other interests and priorities,

    Keep up the good work,


  3. Anon

    At Stop & Shop on Rt.1 the other day, I stood in line behind a woman using her food stamp “credit card” to ring up her order. She had a $40 gel manicure, a coach handbag and a designer wallet. She turned to her husband to foot the extra $8 in cash she need to fork over for her very large cartload and he had to interrupt himself from texting on this Iphone – which last time I checked, was a pretty expensive item in addition to the AT&T monthly fees.

    I am 100% in favor of providing food stamps to those in need, but clearly this couple had money to spend on other things while we, the public, foot their food bill. And speaking of bringing back the scarlet letter as a deterrent – maybe we shouldn’t be making it so easy for them by providing the “legit” cover of a credit/debit card.

  4. nana

    let’s not encourage them to keep having those babies.
    I’m pro choice!

  5. boredatwork

    Unfortunately, the US seems to be looking more and more like the UK as far as benefits and the associated stigma (or lack thereof) is concerned. If being on the dole (or receiving food stamps) has no stigma, and if you can live comfortably on said benefits, then there is no incentive to find a job to support yourself. Yes, there are many who want to stand on their own feet and will try very hard to do so, and these newspaper articles are very good at finding those people, but an equally large number of people have absolutely no qualms at all about taking never-ending government handouts. In the UK they have tried to make continued receipt of benefits conditioned upon providing proof that you are actively seeking employment, but that’s very easy to do (just apply to one job per month) and it has not led to a reduction in the number of people who proudly live in government-provided housing eating food paid for by the government while watching a big plasma screen paid for by – you guessed it – the government / taxpayer. The reality is that as long as benefits are provided, people will claim them and feel no obligation to ever repay their debt (and they don’t even regard it as a debt).
    I have no idea how to solve this, other than cutting down on what we provide in benefits and having a strict length of time before the benefits are cut off.

  6. Arouet

    Does anyone wonder how consumers can consume if their jobs went to Manila, Bangalore, Bratislava, or Sao Paulo? Should they relocate, and still buy their stuff in Peoria? How does this work exactly?