Food Stamps are big business, job killers, turn human beings into wards of the State, and have become a reliable voting block for the Democrat Party. The typical argument used by liberals as to why food stamps are so important is that children and the elderly are the recipients. That’s probably true. The question is, how did we get to the place in our nation where in 1969, 2.8 million people received food stamps and today more than 47 million are on food stamps?
“Since President Lyndon Baines Johnson declared ‘war on poverty,’ U.S. taxpayers have spent $15 trillion on so-called anti-poverty programs—a figure slightly less than the national debt. Despite the enormous payout of money, ‘poverty in America is largely unchanged.’” Numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau reveal “that nearly 50 million Americans live below the federal poverty line.”
Some of the persistence in poverty rates is related to choices people made long before they become dependent on tax-payer handouts. (Food stamps are forced wealth transfer payments and not “a government benefit,” as Florida State Republican John Wood calls the program.)
Maybe they dropped out of school, had children out of wedlock, failed to work their way up the job market ladder, or spent money recklessly and failed to save enough for retirement.
Of course, there will always be people who require a safety net, but they could be helped by organizations outside government control. With taxes lowered, people would have money to donate to the truly needy without creating dependency.
Liberals have drummed into the heads of young people that certain jobs are beneath them. I work in an area where there are a lot of black families. Some of these kids work in fast food restaurants probably getting minimum wage. I went into the local Verizon store where there were four black employees helping customers with technical problems. These young people know that to succeed, they need to work, no matter the job or how much it pays.
Work was part of my upbringing. It was expected that we worked, no matter what the job — from shoveling snow in the winder, delivering papers, or raking leaves. One summer I washed pots and pans 8 hours a day, six days a week. I hated it!
When I was in college, I worked two jobs. When I graduated from college, for six months my transportation was a bicycle. I stayed out of debt, saved my money, and gained valuable job experience. Even with a college degree, and no job prospects in my field of study, I took whatever job I could find. In graduate school, I worked as a custodian and in the on-campus bookstore.
When I lived in Florida, before going to seminary, I often worked 60 hours per week. There was no union official telling me to slow down or limit my working hours. Because I worked hard, came in early, took few breaks, didn’t complain, and did a good job, I was offered the assistant manager position at a new store the company was opening.
It’s these early, low paying, and dirty jobs that prepare young people for better jobs. I learned that I did not want to work in a gas station, wash pots and pans, mix concrete, stock shelves, labor as a janitor any longer than I had to.
Liberal political policies contribute to the denigration of work, low graduation rates among the poor, and out-of-wedlock births. Government programs — initially well-intentioned — subsidize all these conditions in the name of compassion and social justice.
Thomas Sowell, a black man who grew up poor, understands liberal do-gooders and how their policies hurt the poor:
“The anointed want to eliminate stress, challenge, striving, and competition. They want the necessities of life to be supplied as ‘rights’ — which is to say, at the taxpayers’ expense, without anyone’s being forced to work for those necessities, except of course the taxpayers.
“This is a vision of human beings as livestock to be fed by the government and herded and tended by the anointed. All the things that make us human beings are to be removed from our lives and we are to live as denatured creatures controlled and directed by our betters.1
Liberals consider such a view “insulting.” The people who struggled their way to the top view it as necessary.
- Thomas Sowell, “Human Livestock” in The Thomas Sowell Reader, 22. [↩]