Food Stamps, Frugality and Who Deserves Government Assistance?

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Foodista's post entitled "Should Food Stamps Buy Lobsters and Porterhouse Steaks?" made me angry. So angry that I will not link to the article. You'll have to find it yourself.

I use food stamps, and right now, I have a surplus of over $500. Why? Because it took them three months to get them to me, and they sent me all those months at once. I've never spent that surplus, and yes, I've bought steaks and seafood from time to time. I get $200 a month to buy groceries, and I usually have a little left over. I eat a lot healthier than most people, too. I'm saving that $500 for a time when I really need it.

I am into stockpiling, as most of you know. I also love fresh fruits and vegetables, and lately, I've been buying organic, which means I eat less (I can stand to eat less), but I also can stretch those items with other healthy things, like brown rice, quinoa, or veggie pasta. I don't eat a lot of meat and when I do it's chicken or fish. I try to use other protein sources like beans, peanuts, etc. to save money.

I just moved to my current city, and I know there is a store where I can buy in bulk, but I haven't been there yet. When I do, I'll stock up on those items. I buy a lot of BOGO's and have learned to tell when they are a good buy or deceptively priced. I buy chicken in large packages when it's on sale (like the $1.19/lb family pack of legs I just bought), and I keep the stock to make soup. I don't eat a lot of junk food, but occasionally I will get some cheap corn or tortilla chips to have with some homemade salsa. I miss my old produce store, because I could buy a week's worth of produce there for $20. It's hard here, having to buy at the grocery, as I have yet to find a comparable produce store that takes food stamps. Hopefully, once I get my community garden plot, I won't need one.

And I do use coupons. I probably couldn't do what I do without them. I try to stack store and manufacturer's coupons when I can, or save them until the item is on sale. I get sort of a rush when I can stack a store and manufacturer's coupon with a BOGO or deep discount item! Coupons rock!

I don't feel guilty about using food stamps. I worked full-time for over 30 years, and during a lot of those years, I was a single parent. I took whatever assistance the government could give me, and they gave it to me happily, because I was the kind of person that public assistance is happy to see...someone who is  not a leach, but just needs a little help. My kids got free lunches and I got a small amount of food stamps at times, but usually did not qualify. I lived in government subsidized housing for over 8 years, which was a lifesaver for me when I was going to school to get my horticulture degree.

I think that those who say that food stamp recipients don't deserve to eat well from time to time are the same ones who think that the rich still deserve their social security checks, even if they don't need them. When Bill Clinton was President, he asked for people to call in with ideas for what they would like to see done in America. I did that, and he used something I said in one of his speeches. This is the story.

One day, I was at the bank depositing my paycheck (this was long ago, remember, before direct deposit) and a man in a Mercedes, dressed in designer clothes, parked next to me and walked in ahead of me. He ran into a friend, who asked him what he was doing at the bank. He laughed and said "I had to deposit my greens fees," and showed his friend his social security check. They both laughed and then started talking about getting a foursome together to play at the country club. I saw that check. It was more than I made working full-time in a month. He didn't need that money, and in my humble opinion, he didn't deserve it.

So as long as people like him continue to receive social security checks, I will take my food stamps, and by God, the government better NEVER tell me what to spend them on!


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  2. You DO understand the difference between Social Security and food stamps, right? That SS is the money each of us are docked from our take home pay on our checks that is supposedly held for us until retirement whereupon we are to receive a check funded by the money WE MADE and PAID INTO THE SYSTEM over the period of our working years? And that food stamps are taken from the other money working people pay in taxes to help subsidize people who can't seem to make ends meet on their own. There is a HUGE difference. One is an entitlement program and the other is a retirement fund.

    Deleted and reposted to correct grammatical errors.

  3. If we only got what we paid into the system, we'd run out in the first 5 years. I don't appreciate the term "...people who can't seem to make ends meet on their own." There are many reasons people go on food stamps, and sometimes it has nothing to do with not being able to make ends meet. Sometimes there are no ends. Good for you if you have never had to rely on food stamps, but I can't say the same.

    The recipients of SS are, and have for many years been, paid out of FICA taxes collected today. Forget the trust fund. That's been gone a long time, used to pay for Viet Nam, actually. I pay to give the rich their SS checks, and I pay twice what a worker pays, because I have to pay double due to being self-employed.

    I don't think rich people are entitled to my tax money, and that's that. Besides, if SS is an entitlement program, why do people have to fight so hard to get SSDI? Aren't they entitled to it? It seems only those who aren't poor are entitled to anything in this country. The poor, and now even the middle class, get nothing.

    If I had my way, SS would be need based. They keep talking about it, but nobody wants to piss off the rich, so they don't do it. I say let them have what they paid in up front, then if they want more, they can apply under the needs statute. Or just do away with it all together and make a special welfare for the elderly that is need based.

    I can tell you that if I was wealthy, I would donate every penny I got from those upper income tax cuts to charity, and I would NOT take a SS check.

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  5. You're wrong. I completely disagree with your idea of how things should work and I have been self-employed for 20 years. But whatever.....

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  7. ROTFLMAOPIMP! "You're wrong...but whatever" is the standard conservative answer when you know someone can actually give you an argument you can't come up with an intelligent defense against. You're rude, and intransigent, and uncaring, but I would expect nothing less from a Tea Partier. BTW, I quit the TBUH group because too many of them are like you. I will go to my grave defending the poor, and anyone who doesn't like that can go straight to whatever part of hell is reserved for the hateful and greedy.

  8. Judy,
    Deb is exactly right on the money. My grandmother has been receiving SS for 20+ years. She never paid in that amount, but she needs it, so I assume the money I pay in goes to support her. If they money I pay in was placed in an interest bearing account and I got that when I retired, most people would be out of money in about three years. Deb was being generous when she said five.
    The simple reality is that if you wnat to cut entitlement programs, start by cutting the waste in them. Stopping send SS to people who don't need it, or just cut them off when the paid in amount runs out.
    I have a friend, a 35-year-old, who lost his job last fall when the company he worked for lost its contract. No fault of his. He shares an apartment, so pays less than $400 in rent and utilities, but his unemployment barely covered that. And, in case you haven't noticed, the job market sucks. With help from his friends, he is going back to school to get a degree in a field where there are jobs, but the $98 a month he got in food stamps made the difference in eating and not eating. I fed him as much as I could, but it's not like my husband and I are made out of money either.
    Entitlement programs should be used when needed and without bigots like you presuming to know anything about why they are needed.

  9. Thanks, Cin. It's nice to have someone take up for me for a change. Over the years, raising two kids alone, going to school full-time, being injured and out of work, and being a widow with two small kids, I have used just about every entitlement program there is, and they are there for people who are temporarily down on their luck or permanently disabled, not lazy or just no-good. The problem is there are just too many people who have learned to game the system. I could go on and on about disability, how everyone thinks I should be on it, and I refuse to apply until I am truly in a position where I know that within a year, I will be unable to work (I have lupus, so that day may not be too far down the road). I know so many people who are not any more, and many much less, disabled than I am, and they are collecting a lot of money in SSDI and from other programs. Then I see people who could easily claim disability, one friend was 150 lbs. overweight with diabetes and pulmonary problems, and they work full time and try to support themselves. The system is definitely broken, but doing away with it all together will hurt everyone.

  10. Hi Deb,

    I don't have the strength, literally, to say what I think and as I was reading what you wrote, I thought well, thank goodness somebody is talking and taking up for the poor! Somebody with knowledge and experience enough to have a voice and be heard in the face of stigma and ignorance. Thank you!

    People assume don't they? They assume they know all about people who, "can't seem to make ends meet on their own," as stated in the above comment.

    This post is right on! Thanks for writing and being strong.

  11. Judy, I realize you are obsessed with the 'undeserving poor,' but there are other entitlement programs that take a lot more of 'your' money. They are called ag subsidies, oil subsidies, pharma-research subsidies, and military/defense-contraption subsidies--get the trend here. They are welfare programs and the corporations who receive them have come to feel quite 'entitled to them! That obsession with the poor is a 'watch the birdie' tactic used to keep you from noticing where the real money suck is.

  12. Thanks, DK. I know there are so many people who DO understand, and it's nice to hear from them.

  13. Yucca...too true! It's so strange, but nobody on the conservative right seems to notice that the politicians are manipulating them by using that same tactic, while they are sending all their jobs and money overseas, and bringing in more and more immigrants to steal what's left.


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