Friday, January 29, 2016

Ending Welfare in America

Several states were moving to cut thousands of people from their Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP, or “food stamp”).

In New Jersey, for example, Governor Chris Christie pulled the plug on benefits to 11,000 unemployed state residents. By this spring, an estimated 500,000 people nationwide could be cut off. For most of them, the maximum benefit of less than $200 a month is all the federal aid they get. For some, it’s their entire income.

These people live in states that have chosen to reinstate work requirements on able-bodied adults without children, which had been suspended since the 2008 economic downturn. It means that single adults who aren’t working at least 20 hours a week or participating in a job-training program may only get three months of nutrition assistance in a three-year period. After that, they’re on their own.

Joe Soss, a University of Minnesota professor who studies the drive to “end welfare as we know it” that started in the 1990s under President Bill Clinton, it’s the latest chapter in a misguided ideological campaign. This drive is a consequence, he explained, of political rhetoric suggesting that low-income people are poor because of their inability to exercise self-discipline and make good choices. “It’s a modern update of longstanding prejudices,” Soss said. These “get-tough policies are cast as benefiting the poor in the long run,” he added, while their hardline supporters claim to shield taxpayers from “criminal thugs, undocumented immigrants, and those who live off the welfare system.”

Under Christie, New Jersey has sharply reduced the share of federal block grant money it spends on direct cash assistance to needy families, according to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities. But as the number of people getting help has fallen, the percentage of the state’s residents living in poverty actually went up — from 9 percent to 11 percent — between 2009 and 2012. Public servants worry that more stringent work rules for food assistance are being imposed when there isn’t enough job and education assistance for people who need it. “I don’t know where these work programs are. And I know we are not ready for this,” Diane Riley of the Community FoodBank of New Jersey pointed out. 40% of the food produced in the United States goes to waste. There is not one good reason for anyone in the USA to ever go hungry.

In capitalism being poor is the highest crime. It is the ultimate reflection of your failure. You didn't try hard enough, you didn't work hard enough, and you didn't pray hard enough. The majority of us bought into the corporate culture and we are all now doomed to labor for a few generations under the yoke of the oligarchy. For the first time in US history, life expectancy is headed downward.

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