As a Canadian, I confess to little knowledge of America’s food stamp program. Assistance varies from province to province based on factors such as regional unemployment rates; one thing for certain – Canada doesn’t pigeon hole recipients with the stigma of food stamps. Social assistance is based on a shelter allowance and “support” payment to cover necessities. Additionally, the Family Bonus program pays $111.00 (tax free) a month to low income families for each child under 18. Aid is available for dental expenses, bus passes, training, daycare, an endless list of “circumstance” provided you meet the criteria. I’m not saying our system is perfect or adequate – I will say Canadian poor are spared “labels” stamped on our low income neighbors to the south.
In Canada we don’t often hear of welfare fraud or abuses, nor do we peg or pass judgement on purchases made by recipients. We have the same drug. alcohol, and mental illness issues. Unemployment, child poverty, affordable housing, homelessness - we deal with the same problems. What we don’t do is stamp the poor with indelible ink – we don’t marginalize by issuing a food stamp card – a system that instantly labels users, an inescapable mark, tisked and judged by those who haven’t a clue what poverty involves.
I go out of my way to avoid Fox News; “news” being a rather thin veil for “opinion” (a position cemented years ago when a hotel guest complained Canada favoured CNN, which he called the “Communist News Network”) I get a glimpse of Fox once in a while when watching The Daily Show. Last night Jon Stewart opened with a piece on food stamps – a segment comprised of clips courtesy Fox News.
Ponder what Fox reported – People were observed using food stamps to purchase fresh seafood, food stamps were even accepted at organic food shops in New York. One recipient had the nerve to purchase bait, with intention to go Bass fishing. Fox condemned buying dog food, tossed in “reports” of gambling, liquor, and concession stands at Disneyland. I was annoyed but my holy crap moment didn’t happen until a guest on Neil Cavuto from a few years ago complained about disposable diapers.
NEIL CAVUTO: Bailouts from cradle to grave, Connecticut Democrats pushing for the government to pay for diapers for low-income families with babies.
NEIL CAVUTO GUEST #1: If they choose diapers, what’s next? Toothpaste? Car seats?
NEIL CAVUTO GUEST #2 (10/26/2011): If you can’t afford these new-fangled diapers, what’s wrong with going back to old school? … The swaddling cloths were good enough for Baby Jesus, they’re probably good enough for your baby too.
My blown mind reminded itself Fox News aired this story. I tried to dismiss absurdity, tell myself no sane person actually felt this way – not a chance! I demand every self righteous, bible thumping fundamentalist who nods in holier than thou agreement with swaddling good enough for Jesus, immediately swaddle their own children. Who do these six figure talking heads think they are? Imbeciles clucking that if you give the poor disposable diapers, next they’ll be asking for car seats and toothpaste.
There will always be cheaters, no system is perfect. That said, stop being asses about it and give people some dignity – my guess is you’d find them rising above.