A really interesting, heart-wrenching article about food stamps in the Washington Post. Probably not the best way to start your Wednesday. But a good article to read and ponder.
For example, this bit, from and about a man who clearly understands that making mistakes – making choices of any kind – have consequences and that individuals can either accept those consequences or force – through acts of government – others to bear the responsibility for them.
“I don’t want to be another person depending on the government,” he said.
“How about being another person getting the help you deserve?” she said.
Did he deserve it, though? Lonnie Briglia, 60, drove back to his Spanish Lakes mobile home with the recruiter’s pamphlets and thought about that. He wasn’t so sure.
Wasn’t it his fault that he had flushed 40 years of savings into a bad investment, buying a fleet of delivery trucks just as the economy crashed? Wasn’t it his fault that he and his wife, Celeste, had missed mortgage payments on the house where they raised five kids, forcing the bank to foreclose in 2012? Wasn’t it his fault the only place they could afford was an abandoned mobile home in Spanish Lakes, bought for the entirety of their savings, $750 in cash?
“We made horrible mistakes,” he said. “We dug the hole. We should dig ourselves out.”
But I don’t want to focus on the individuals in the story who are poor and need help (whether it’s from the government, their friends, their families, their (private) communities, or simply themselves); I want to focus on this statement, made near the beginning of the article by the reporter commenting on SNAP recruiters (and Federal government welfare programs in general):
But the job also has a second and more controversial purpose for cash-strapped Florida, where increasing food-stamp enrollment has become a means of economic growth, bringing almost $6 billion each year into the state. The money helps to sustain communities, grocery stores and food producers.
The thing is, this is not economic growth. It’s taking from one group (or one geographic area) and giving to another. It’s not sustainable in any rational sense of the word. Florida might do well, but the nation as a whole cannot. And if Florida does really well, then the nation will go bankrupt. To call this growth is a disgusting (mis)-appropriation of the word. It’s cognitively destructive. It happens all the time in the debate about taxes, wealth, the rich and poor, the 1%, the givers and takers. Concepts are destroyed. Be careful.