Something has been bothering me for quite some time. This is not aimed at any one person, trust me. It’s just that I have something to say.
I’ve been hearing/seeing a lot of blanket statements such as:
“If you can afford beer and cigarettes, then you don’t need food stamps.”
“She just spent welfare money on a brand new tv.”
“She’s using coupons with food stamps? Hello! You’re getting free food!!”
“Must be nice to be able to afford a nice car like that being on welfare and all.”
Or my favorite (NOT):
“Get off your butt and get a job instead of mooching off the rest of us.”
First, I want to say that YES, there are people who soak up everything they can get and abuse the system. There are people like that! They make everyone else who needs a little help look bad!
Second, most of the people I know who are receiving aid of any kind are on it because they need help! These days, people are finding themselves unemployed and unable to find a job. They still have families to support and other obligations. They really need a helping hand, otherwise they might lose everything they have worked so hard for. They apply for whatever aid they can, in hopes that it can keep them above water until something comes along. There are single moms, who are left without a partner to help them care for the children. There are disabled people; some with visible disabilities and some with invisible disabilities. These people are all careful with their purchases. They have to make the small amount of food stamps or cash go as far as they can stretch it. Many have learned to be very frugal. They utilize coupons and/or food banks. They look for bargains and sale items. They too, have families to feed, rent and utilities, and other bills to pay — just like everyone else!! They often run short and have to rob Peter to pay Paul. They often go without. Been there, done that.
Third, where do any of us get off judging others? Yes, we are all guilty of judging people. It’s human nature. We all have pre-conceived notions about this, that, or the other. That’s just the way it is. Don’t deny it. It’s true.
Now let’s just step back and think about something. Do any of us know, I mean truly know, what another person’s life is like? Do we know of their hardships? Do we know what situation they are dealing with? Do we know of their health or capabilities? No, we don’t. We don’t know half of what we think we know, about anything.
The woman purchasing a brand new television with her cash aid, may have saved $10 per month so she could buy the tv for her family, who may not have a tv at all. Should she not buy her family a tv just because it’s welfare money?
The couple driving that nice, shiny car may have borrowed it from someone to go to the doctor or get groceries for their family. Perhaps it IS their car and they both just recently lost their jobs and currently have no income. They can still qualify for food stamps even though they own a car or a house. Did you know that?
So what if the lady ahead of you in the check out line is using coupons with her EBT (Electronic Benefit Transaction) purchase? She is trying to make her allotment of cash or food stamps stretch as far as possible, just like the rest of us!
As for the person buying cigarettes while on food stamps — If you are a smoker, or if you have quit smoking, you know how hard it really is to quit. Perhaps that person is trying or has tried, and just hasn’t been successful. “Go without!!” you say? Easier said than done. And some DO go without.
One last thing. Who says a person who receives aid of some kind, doesn’t deserve a luxury now and again? Some items may not be necessary, an essential to survive, but does that mean the person who gets help can’t be frugal and save, to get those items? Does it mean that person should let their kids go without new shoes this year because they still have last year’s shoes? So what if the single mom with 3 children gets food stamps and cash aid but still has cable tv! So what if they have a microwave! So what if they have a laptop! Don’t they have the right to have things too? Do we, as a society, expect poor people to live in shacks, eat out of garbage cans, wear the same clothes every day, not shower daily, or even brush their teeth? I mean, we can survive without a shower, or without brushing our teeth. We don’t have to have different clothes every day, or live in a house to survive. Do we?? Survival is one thing. Living a quality life is another.
Let me say once again, there are people who abuse the system, but not everyone is abusing the system!! Please just think about how we jump to conclusions about other people, and stop ourselves from being so judgmental. Let’s try being compassionate and understanding of what others might be going through. We are not all born with silver spoons in our mouths. We are not all fortunate enough to have excellent health. We are not all so lucky to never have to worry about our next meal, or when our next nice, hot shower might be.
We all have stuff to deal with, and some of us may need help from time to time. You may be in that position at some point. Then how will you feel?