I came across an interesting article today at the Stateline.org site regarding the multibillion dollar Food Stamp bonanza the states have been pushing to get from the bogus, and ill founded stimulus package enacted earlier this year. Where the money will come from to foot the food bill is anybody’s guess, but the money has been spent. According to the article, the writer says that “experts say is more likely than any other stimulus program to jolt the moribund economy back to life.”
Also; “People who receive these benefits are hard-pressed and will spend any financial aid they receive very quickly,” said Moody’s chief economist Mark Zandi. Every $1 spent on the food assistance program adds $1.73 to local economies because an uptick in food sales creates related jobs and further consumer spending.
And; In April, 32.5 million low-income recipients got their first monthly bonus — a 13.5 percent increase in benefits, averaging about $20 more per person — under the Obama administration’s stimulus plan. Slated to pump $20 billion into the market over five years, the stimulus plan gives each recipient more buying power but does not affect the number of enrollees.
So how do these people rate? I don’t get a 13.5% raise in my paycheck from the boss, why should they? I don’t have a problem helping people who are needy, such as being hungry and needing clothing and shelter, but wouldn’t it be better to put that money to use providing employment opportunities? Not so, says the writer, Christine Vestal. She writes; “It’s smart for states to promote food stamps, because that and unemployment checks often are enough to delay the need for other types of public assistance — such as welfare and Medicaid — that put pressure on state budgets,” said poverty expert Sheri Steisel at the National Conference of State Legislatures.
There are lots of ways to help put the economy back in order, but I do not believe a double digit increase in the amount of welfare payment the recipient gets is going to really accomplish anything of lasting value. It sounds to me like we’ve become a nation eager to rob Peter, just so we can pay Paul, as the old saying goes. Why do we have to keep increasing the level of poverty in what was once, and still is in my mind, the greatest nation on earth?
Why is it that we cannot use these funds going towards welfare recipients to develop some sort of program that creates employment opportunities? Like I said, I’ve no problem helping people, but isn’t there a greater benefit in helping them get ahead than in just helping them get by?
The article goes on to say; “Last year, the Food Stamp program — recently renamed Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP — served 28 million people nationwide, at a price of $36 billion. In the 12 months ending February 2009, the rolls spiked by 17.4 percent, helping 4.8 million more low-income people pay for groceries — more than in any year since the program began in 1964.”
Funny how it is that even with the numbers of recipients as high as it is, the states claim that there are millions more who are eligible for this assistance, but are not receiving these food stamp funds, and have not applied. Vestal goes on to write “Despite these efforts, only 60 percent of eligible Americans received food stamps in 2004, the most recent year data are available.”
So what is the real scoop behind this welfare gravy train? How much more are these recipients receiving from these billions of dollars? And exactly how much is really going back into the local economies? After all, the point behind this stimulus package was supposed to put money into the economy. According to Vestal, “The dollar value of food stamps an individual or family can receive is based primarily on income, with benefits ranging from a minimum of $16 per month for an individual to $176 per month for those making under $13,000 per year, and as much as $1,058 for a family of eight, making less than $45,000 per year. A family of four, making less than $27,000, can receive up to $588 per month, according to USDA. For individuals, the stimulus plan adds $24 a month to their debit cards; families of four get an additional $80, families of eight get $144, and larger families get $18 for each additional member.”
So what does this look like here in the Independent Socialist Nation of Maine? Or any other state? Check out this table from the USDA
FOOD STAMP RECIPIENTS BY STATE
The recession added 4.8 million people to Food Stamp program rolls in the 12 months ending February 2009. The increase exceeded 30 percent in Florida, Idaho, Nevada and Utah.