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Thread: Battle over food stamps highlights polarizing rift

  1. #1

    Battle over food stamps highlights polarizing rift

    Food stamps. These days, those are fighting words.

    For some, they represent all that’s wrong with the welfare system, a government entitlement built to fail, a handout abused by the “takers” in society.

    “The more the handouts, the lazier people get,” said Stacey Craig of Snellville.

    Others see it as a lifeline for the most basic of needs — food, and a statement that this country will not let the needy go hungry. They worry about recent efforts to require some recipients find a job, or risk losing their benefits.

    “How about just helping people who want to work find good jobs, without the draconian angle of threatened starvation?” said John Sheffield of College Park.

    About one in five Georgians receives food stamps, making it among the most frequently used social service programs. Debate is heating up as states adopt federal rules that able-bodied people without children must work or lose the benefit. Georgia enacted the requirement in three counties in January and reached it’s first deadline April 1. Already, the number of these people on food stamps in the three counties has been cut in half, down to 2,590 recipients.

    It’s a topic that has captured public interest. One recent Atlanta Journal-Constitution story attracted 953 comments from online readers - an extraordinarily high number - both praising and blasting the program. The comments of Craig and Sheffield were among them. While these comments don’t represent a scientific sampling, they reveal a rich community conversation filled with give-and-take from all points on the political compass.

    Georgia’s recent crackdown marks another milestone for an program heralded during the Depression, vilified in the Reagan era, and overhauled under Bill Clinton. Republican presidential front runner Donald Trump recently talked about the need to roll back the number of people on food stamps.

    Here, the work requirements are isolated to Cobb, Gwinnett and Hall counties. But there is already talk of making them statewide. The AJC found challenges to implementing such a change. Chief among them is the price tag: Georgia officials say it would cost the state as much as $40 million a year in extra work and staff, with little, if any, financial benefit to the state.

    Moreover, such a widespread mandate could upset the state’s efforts to stabilize a food stamp program that has been in shambles for years, according to officials at the state Division of Family and Children Services, which manages the program.

    Even opponents of the new rules acknowledge that the public largely expects that an able-bodied, childless adult should look for work. But some social service advocates worry about the state’s ability to identify those capable of work.

    “I’m not sure a DFCS worker has the ability or capacity to make that determination,” said Ellen Gerstein, executive director of the Gwinnett Coalition for Health and Human Services.

    Consequently, social service advocates worry that a number of people ousted from the system under the work requirements, really can’t work.

    “These are some of the poorest educated, and poorest in terms of income,” said Melissa Johnson, a policy analyst with the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute. “I worry about them connecting to other resources, and finding food in other ways.”


    Participation in the food stamp program grew rapidly during the Great Recession, earning President Barack Obama the moniker “the food stamp president.” In Georgia, the program added 700,000 people - a 63 percent hike to 1.9 million recipients - from 2009 to 2013. The current figure stands at about 1.8 million. Some 111,000 are considered able-boded without children.

    The AJC’s reader comments on food stamps, gathered together, printed out to 175 pages, a book-length representation of the polarizing conversation going on. The debate presents a classic political battle between the left and right, said Bob Grafstein, a University of Georgia political science professor.

    “People on the left say, ‘Are you going to let people starve’?” Grafstein said. “On the right, they’re saying, ‘You’re taking food out of my kid’s mouth to feed them.’ ”

    John Sheffield read many of the reader comments. Jobless, collecting food stamps, the 52-year-old knows what people think, at least some people. He looks capable of holding a job, though admits he’s pretty out of shape.

    The former call center worker hasn’t held a steady job since 2010. He lost track of all the places he’s applied for work. He’s gone through some $40,000 in savings, and he’s down to living with his sister in College Park. He receives $195 a month in food stamps.

    Over time, he’s become depressed. At times, the dark moods rob him of any sense of initiative. When he recovers, he beats himself up for not working harder to find work.

    He said he has problems with his feet, so he can’t stand for too long. “I’m probably not impaired enough to be disabled,” he said. “I could do some desk work.”

    Sheffield lives in Fulton County, which currently doesn’t have a work requirement. But he’s concerned state lawmakers will change that.

    “I think the people trying to pass these rules have no empathy,” Sheffield said. “Hitting me with a stick isn’t going to make me work any faster.”

    Quote Originally Posted by Ron Paul View Post
    The intellectual battle for liberty can appear to be a lonely one at times. However, the numbers are not as important as the principles that we hold. Leonard Read always taught that "it's not a numbers game, but an ideological game." That's why it's important to continue to provide a principled philosophy as to what the role of government ought to be, despite the numbers that stare us in the face.
    Quote Originally Posted by Origanalist View Post
    This intellectually stimulating conversation is the reason I keep coming here.

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  3. #2
    maybe they could fix this by raising the minimum wage higher

    'We endorse the idea of voluntarism; self-responsibility: Family, friends, and churches to solve problems, rather than saying that some monolithic government is going to make you take care of yourself and be a better person. It's a preposterous notion: It never worked, it never will. The government can't make you a better person; it can't make you follow good habits.' - Ron Paul 1988

    Awareness is the Root of Liberation Revolution is Action upon Revelation

    'Resistance and Disobedience in Economic Activity is the Most Moral Human Action Possible' - SEK3

    Flectere si nequeo superos, Acheronta movebo.

    ...the familiar ritual of institutional self-absolution...
    ...for protecting them, by mock trial, from punishment...

  4. #3
    John Sheffield read many of the reader comments. Jobless, collecting food stamps, the 52-year-old knows what people think, at least some people. He looks capable of holding a job, though admits he’s pretty out of shape.
    “I think the people trying to pass these rules have no empathy,” Sheffield said. “Hitting me with a stick isn’t going to make me work any faster.”
    Ya' know what?

    $#@! you John!

    You're a useless piece of $#@! who needs to starve or beg until your fat ass either gets work or jumps off a bridge.

    52 y/o and sponging off your sister and the government, shame on you.

  5. #4
    I imagine they will just all have children soon .

  6. #5
    Obummer and the Dem party are the Food stamp party for sure , they should be proud of it .

  7. #6
    As a Township Trustee, I'm not looking forward to handling all of the calls for assistance once things like this get enacted. I know we have to wean people off of welfare, but until those that are stealing our wealth and inflating the currency thereby stealing it's value is done, it is much harder for those that are working to help those that have need.
    "When a portion of wealth is transferred from the person who owns it—without his consent and without compensation, and whether by force or by fraud—to anyone who does not own it, then I say that property is violated; that an act of plunder is committed." - Bastiat : The Law

    "nothing evil grows in alcohol" ~ @presence

    "I mean can you imagine what it would be like if firemen acted like police officers? They would only go into a burning house only if there's a 100% chance they won't get any burns. I mean, you've got to fully protect thy self first." ~ juleswin

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