Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Spring Fund Drive: Keep CounterPunch Afloat
CounterPunch is a lifeboat of sanity in today’s turbulent political seas. Please make a tax-deductible donation and help us continue to fight Trump and his enablers on both sides of the aisle. Every dollar counts!
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Latest Attack on Food Stamps

Once again, Republicans are taking aim at poor people.

What is it this time? Adding a stricter work requirement to receive what used to be known as food stamps. (Today it’s known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, but that just doesn’t have the same ring to it.)

If the Republican House bill goes through, anyone between the ages of 18 and 59 will have to work or participate in a work training program for 20 hours a week in order to receive food stamp benefits.

Frankly, this is both disgusting and counterproductive. Let me explain why.

First of all, among other things, food stamps are an incredible economic stimulus. For every $1 spent on food stamps, the economy gets a $1.79 boost. Every $1 billion spent on food stamps results in creating an additional 8,900 to 17,900 full time jobs.

In other words, cutting food stamps cuts jobs.

Making it harder to get food stamps will, in effect, cut food stamps — and therefore cut jobs.

How so? Well, most people on food stamps who can work already do.

About two out of five food stamp recipients live in households where someone works. They’re the working poor. They work, but don’t make enough money to make ends meet.

What about the rest, who have no income? One in five are disabled, and one quarter are elderly.

For many Americans, there’s a moral obligation to feed the hungry. Period, end of story, no more information needed. If somebody is hungry, feed them. The fact that feeding them creates jobs is just a bonus.

Let’s say you’re a skeptic, though. Who are these lazy people who just won’t work? And why can’t they work?

Turns out we’ve been here before, when we began requiring welfare recipients to have jobs or participate in training programs back in the 1990s. And, lucky for us, sociologists Jane Collins and Victoria Mayer researched the people affected by it and wrote a book about them called Both Hands Tied.

Note that the title is Both Hands Tied and not Lazy People Who Should Get Off Their Duffs and Work.

They found that most of the people on welfare had worked for most of their lives. In almost every single case, they went on welfare because a family member needed care and they had to stay home to do it, or they themselves were ill.

One woman had a severely disabled child that no day care would agree to accept. She had to stay home to care for her child, and therefore wasn’t able to work.

Is that the person you want to deny food stamps? The mother caring for her disabled child?

The job training programs provided weren’t helpful either. They didn’t teach useful skills, and they didn’t lead to people finding long-term work.

I don’t know who’s on food stamps and not working. But since food stamps pay only for food and not for any other needs, odds are everyone who can work already does. It’s not possible to get by otherwise.

I’ve been on food stamps. Trust me, you aren’t living the good life when you have to get them. On the contrary, you must be so poor to even qualify that you’ll do just about anything to work for more income.

Adding a work requirement to food stamps is a mean-spirited and short-sighted move that will harm our economy while exacerbating hunger.

More articles by:
May 24, 2018
Binoy Kampmark
Tom Wolfe the Parajournalist
Dean Baker
The Marx Ratio: Not Clear Karl Would be Happy
May 23, 2018
Nick Pemberton
Maduro’s Win: A Bright Spot in Dark Times
Ben Debney
A Faustian Bargain with the Climate Crisis
Deepak Tripathi
A Bloody Hot Summer in Gaza: Parallels With Sharpeville, Soweto and Jallianwala Bagh
Farhang Jahanpour
Pompeo’s Outrageous Speech on Iran
Josh White
Strange Recollections of Old Labour
CJ Hopkins
The Simulation of Democracy
Lawrence Davidson
In Our Age of State Crimes
Dave Lindorff
The Trump White House is a Chaotic Clown Car Filled with Bozos Who Think They’re Brilliant
Russell Mokhiber
The Corporate Domination of West Virginia
Ty Salandy
The British Royal Wedding, Empire and Colonialism
Laura Flanders
Life or Death to the FCC?
Gary Leupp
Dawn of an Era of Mutual Indignation?
Katalina Khoury
The Notion of Patriarchal White Supremacy Vs. Womanhood
Nicole Rosmarino
The Grassroots Environmental Activist of the Year: Christine Canaly
Caoimhghin Ó Croidheáin
“Michael Inside:” The Prison System in Ireland 
May 22, 2018
Stanley L. Cohen
Broken Dreams and Lost Lives: Israel, Gaza and the Hamas Card
Kathy Kelly
Scourging Yemen
Andrew Levine
November’s “Revolution” Will Not Be Televised
Ted Rall
#MeToo is a Cultural Workaround to a Legal Failure
Gary Leupp
Question for Discussion: Is Russia an Adversary Nation?
Binoy Kampmark
Unsettling the Summits: John Bolton’s Libya Solution
Doug Johnson
As Andrea Horwath Surges, Undecided Voters Threaten to Upend Doug Ford’s Hopes in Canada’s Most Populated Province
Kenneth Surin
Malaysia’s Surprising Election Results
Dana Cook
Canada’s ‘Superwoman’: Margot Kidder
Dean Baker
The Trade Deficit With China: Up Sharply, for Those Who Care
John Feffer
Playing Trump for Peace How the Korean Peninsula Could Become a Bright Spot in a World Gone Mad
Peter Gelderloos
Decades in Prison for Protesting Trump?
Thomas Knapp
Yes, Virginia, There is a Deep State
Andrew Stewart
What the Providence Teachers’ Union Needs for a Win
Jimmy Centeno
Mexico’s First Presidential Debate: All against One
May 21, 2018
Ron Jacobs
Gina Haspell: She’s Certainly Qualified for the Job
Uri Avnery
The Day of Shame
Amitai Ben-Abba
Israel’s New Ideology of Genocide
Patrick Cockburn
Israel is at the Height of Its Power, But the Palestinians are Still There
Frank Stricker
Can We Finally Stop Worrying About Unemployment?
Binoy Kampmark
Royal Wedding Madness
Roy Morrison
Middle East War Clouds Gather
Edward Curtin
Gina Haspel and Pinocchio From Rome
Juana Carrasco Martin
The United States is a Country Addicted to Violence
Dean Baker
Wealth Inequality: It’s Not Clear What It Means
Robert Dodge
At the Brink of Nuclear War, Who Will Lead?
Vern Loomis
If I’m Lying, I’m Dying
Valerie Reynoso
How LBJ initiated the Military Coup in the Dominican Republic
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail