Another Welfare Queen

I’m watching a profile on Olympic hurdler Lolo Jones (who may be one of the most naturally beautiful people on the planet), and she was talking about her youth, being raised in poverty, and how she was terrified to use food stamps. She was terrified that while she was using them, one of her friends from school would see her checking out, and she would just be humiliated. She also mentioned eating a lot of government cheese and beans, and living in the bottom of the church on a stage for a long period of time.

I was in Kroger (our chain grocery store) the other day buying a couple things of crab meat to make crab cakes for the party at Walt’s, and in front of me was a young woman with a baby in a stroller, and she was checking out, and she used food stamps, and then had to spend about five minutes counting coins to have enough to pay for her purchases (which, contrary to Republican beliefs, were not 40’s and steaks, but diapers, milk, oatmeal, and vegetables), and I remember thinking, as she was rushing and making counting mistakes, that poor girl is just humiliated and embarrassed she has to go through this. I genuinely felt bad for her. And then she turned around, looked at me and the people behind me, and apologized- “Sorry, it’s the 31st and I just have to have this stuff, and payday and everything isn’t until tomorrow.”

It was a heart-wrenching experience, and then I looked down at my purchases- crab meat, panko, buffalo mozzarella, green onions, dijon mustard, a couple bottles of wine, and some peel and eat shrimp, and I felt like the biggest most entitled dick ever as I was rung up and handed the lady my debit card and then declined a receipt because “I just do my banking online and I’ll deal with it next week.” At which point I realized how debased and out of touch I am. Here is a woman buying what she can to keep her kid alive, and I’m buying luxury foods, for a party, for other people, and I’m not even worried about the price. However ashamed that young woman ahead of me was, I am sure I felt more ashamed as I understood what I had just said.

But if you ask the modern GOP, I pay too much in taxes, and we do too much for the girl in line in front of me and Lolo Jones. We’re just a seriously fucked up nation. I’m not one of those making over 250k, but by any metric in the world I am rich beyond the wildest dreams of historical standards (although, admittedly, it takes a lot less to be “rich” in WV). Please, please, please, politicians. Raise my taxes. Spend it on food stamps, job training, road and bridge construction. Spend it on child care, nursery school, and child development. Anything but more god damned wars and tax cuts for Mitt Romney.






84 replies
  1. 1
    gravie says:

    Amen.

  2. 2
    DirtyAussie says:

    As a foreigner living in your country I am quite often appalled at the causal acceptance of poverty that seems to take place. However, then I read stories like this and my faith is restored that little bit more. You are a good man Cole.

  3. 3
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    Did you get to see that scanner thingy that uses an electronic eye to record and tally your purchases? The lady that buys my groceries tells me that thing is pretty fucking amazing.

  4. 4
    rikyrah says:

    but, see, the GOP WANTS her to be humiliated. they WANT her to be uncomfortable. what’s she doing with that kid that she obvious can’t afford.

    I hate those muthafuckas with the heat of a 1,000; the evil soulless SOBs.

  5. 5
    Quarks says:

    Thanks.

    I’m not on food stamps, but I shop at the same stores where people on food stamps shop. I have indeed seen them “splurging” when the bags of rice go on a 2 for 1 sale. Or when the cans of black beans are on sale. That sort of thing. Not the Republican version.

  6. 6
    Spaghetti Lee says:

    Please, please, please, politicians. Raise my taxes. Spend it on food stamps, job training, road and bridge construction. Spend it on child care, nursery school, and child development. Anything but more god damned wars and tax cuts for Mitt Romney.

    Amen, brother.

  7. 7

    I’ve seen people sell food stamps to buy alcohol. Which of course by the reasoning of the GOP means everyone does it, so collective punishment for all! If only we could apply that philosophy to them and their compatriots on their side of the wealth divide.

  8. 8
    Valdivia says:

    This is why I read this blog. You are a true mensch John. And have imbued that spirit on this little corner of the internet.

  9. 9

    You’ll love this, GOP policy coordinator Jason Whitman Tweeted to MoJo’s Adam Weinstein that unions are “leeches on the taxpayer.”

    Talk about your weapons grade stupid.

  10. 10
    Maude says:

    I’m very grateful to have the stamps. I am not at all embarrassed when I use them in the store.
    I live in an affluent county and have more than once explained to women in line behind me why I have the stamps. It’s because the income from SSDI is low.
    I don’t care. I eat and that’s what matters.
    John, did you say you looked down and saw a big dick?

  11. 11
    Tata says:

    It’s marvelous to watch you, Mr. Cole, become more and more human. It’s not an easy journey, which I say as a fellow traveler. Thank you for bringing us along on yours.

  12. 12
    Maude says:

    @The Other Chuck:
    How did they sell them from the EBT card?
    ETA, there is a cash account also on an EBT card. It can be used for cash purchases.

  13. 13
    Raven says:

    They come on debit cards in Georgia.

  14. 14
    geg6 says:

    And this is why I love you and always will, John Cole. You are a good, good man.

  15. 15
    Gin & Tonic says:

    Thanks for the wake-up call. I make pretty good money and often buy things better than I need without knowing or caring much about what they cost, and I live in a neighborhood where I very seldom run into people like the woman ahead of you in line. So I need a reminder like this.

    Yes, I’m taxed too little.

  16. 16
    lamh35 says:

    I have lived that woman’s life although as the child of a woman who had to use food stamps to survive. My mom worked her but off, but she had 3 kids and a no good husband who abandoned her and when I was 2. So she had to work hard but to makes ends meet and to feed me and my twin younger sisters, she needed the assistance.

    That never stopped her from going to college and getting her degree (she would bring my 2 sisters and I to classes with her), but she needed the help. She became the first member of my family to go to college and to actually graduate with a degree (I was the second).

    Yeah, it was embarassing. I never wanted to go the the store and buy stuff. I hated it, but in hindsight, I am glad for it, because it helped my mom keep a roof over our heads and kept us as well fed as possible until she got on her feet.

    I am proof positive that when people have the assistance they need, good things can come of completely terrible situations.

    I have no need for food stamps now, but I remember enough from my childhood to still be on the side of those who realize that we all need assistance sometimes.

    Good on you for feeling her embarassment John. You’re good people.

  17. 17
    ruemara says:

    It’s ok, John. You’re not over-privileged. It is humiliating. I work with the people in charge of low-rent housing and I could hardly bring myself to talk with them. It is embarrassing to be poor. It is embarrassing to be so severely in need and have your need be paraded about for public view. I assume there’s no EBT benefit card in your neck of the woods. It alleviates the burden some, but I thank the gods more for those card readers that allow you some dignity by hitting the button for yourself on how to pay, so you don’t have to report to all and sundry in the line that you’re using food stamps. I don’t get them, because at $17k as a degreed professional working for local city government, who can’t afford even a studio in the town she works for, I make too much money. But I wish I was eligible, as I try to balance out what I’ll need to make it until next weeks paycheck and what I may have to pay to either repair or junk my old car that I need for work. You’re not the problem, it’s that there’s a party that is downright fucking eager for all of you to be as fucking beat down, suicidal and goddamned trapped, as I am. Those guys. Those, I hate with a passion.

  18. 18
    Spaghetti Lee says:

    @Southern Beale:

    Union workers PAY TAXES, you STUPID FUCKING SHIT.

  19. 19
    bam says:

    While she is counting out her pennies is when you lean over and give her or the cashier a $10 bill and say “let me help, I’ve been there” (whether you have or not – it could be you). She’s not pan handling, she’s just trying to feed her kid(s). She would appreciate the gesture I’m sure.

  20. 20
    MikeBoyScout says:

    Someday, life will be sweet like a rhapsody
    When I paint my masterpiece

    Someday, everything is gonna be diff’rent
    When I paint my masterpiece
    When I paint my masterpiece

    You paint it well John. And while I’ve no idea how, we will get by.

  21. 21
    Mister Papercut says:

    My best friend from high school is in the same boat as Cole’s Kroger-mate. Her and her husband’s financial situation was tenuous before, but he was laid off last year 3 weeks after they moved into their apartment (two whole bedrooms for them and their two kids — a 7-year-old-girl and a 2-year-old-boy).

    They’re trying, as poor people are constantly told to do, to downsize and move (because it’s just that easy, apparently). This will be the third time in as many summers), which, of course, ain’t easy on one’s ducats even when you have money. They have 10 days to scratch together at least $1,500 for last month rent in their place and deposits on a new one. It might as well be $1,500,000. I’m going to help the best I can (it’ll be akin to trying to fill a swimming pool with a Dixie Cup), but I despair that I can’t do more. But to certain segments, her family is down on their luck because fundamentally they must want to be, and that kind of thinking makes me despair almost as much as her situation does.

  22. 22
    JoyfulA says:

    @bam: Thanks for the coaching on exactly what to do and what to say.

  23. 23
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    John Cole, you are a good man. Such a good man. When you take your dad home from the hospital, tell him and your mom that they raised an awesome son.

  24. 24
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @Spaghetti Lee:

    Please Please PLEASE tell me you weren’t directing that comment at Southern Beale!

  25. 25
    Cassidy says:

    It is humiliating. I quickly learned that pride is expendable when you have children to care for.

    I grew up relatively poor, but never dirt, “trailer park” poor. I never went hungry. I was never genuinely afraid of being homeless until last year when I got out of the Army and couldn’t find a job. I was fortunate to have a couple of good friends, my parents helped out, no small amount of support from this place and public assistance. And, surprisingly enough, Wells Fargo was understanding and didn’t repo my car. But the public assistance made the difference. Knowing that I could buy food for the family took a lot of stress off so I could focus on working. But I was always scared of someone saying something and even more scared of losing my temper or being so humiliated that I’d just take it.

  26. 26
    rammalamadingdong says:

    I had a similar experience years ago. On the way home from work I stopped in a grocery store and two young African-American men were purchasing groceries using the stamps. I didn’t know their situation but it seemed this was a big event for them and they were trying to get on a new path, maybe related to recovery. There was a lot of back and forth about a dozen eggs — apparently some kind of eggs are okay for food stamps and others are not, and they had to keep going back and forth to get the “right” dozen eggs. They kept it light for everyone waiting in line, they weren’t ashamed but they were aware they were holding up the line. And there I was, also AA, carrying my big stupid designer purse that could have fed them for months and I was just ashamed. It still chokes me up.

  27. 27
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    Please, please, please, politicians. Raise my taxes. Spend it on food stamps, job training, road and bridge construction. Spend it on child care, nursery school, and child development. Anything but more god damned wars and tax cuts for Mitt Romney.

    I am intrigued by your ideas, John Cole, and I would like to subscribe to your newsletter and political philosophy.

    Oh, wait, I already do.

    Heartbreaking that the fine people of Wisconsin have decided public school teachers are the problem.

  28. 28
    Spaghetti Lee says:

    @SiubhanDuinne:

    No I wasn’t, I was directing it at the shithead GOPer she was quoting.

  29. 29
    jnfr says:

    Bless you, John. My mother never got through high school, dad left us and she raised us with welfare. I remember that feeling of humiliation. Bless you.

  30. 30
    Cassidy says:

    @rammalamadingdong: What I do is help people as much as I can. The friends that helped me out? Recently have had car trouble and medical issues. They asked for it and I dropped what I was doing to provide rides. A random couple came up to me in the gym parking lot asking for food and a ride? Maybe they scammed me, but maybe I fed two hungry people who live day to day. I’m not gonna take the chance it’s the former. That guy asking for money on the side of the road? He gets the cash I have in my pocket. Maybe he will only buy booze with it, but maybe he’s gonna buy food or get just enough to get a hotel room.

    People helped me when I was down and needed it and I try to take every opportunity to pass it on.

  31. 31
    JenPo says:

    reading this post, i seriously have trouble believing you were ever a republican. i mean, what happened? can you talk about your conversion experience?

  32. 32
    RossInDetroit says:

    Thank you, John. This was the woman that John Edwards was supposed to be helping out with his national political career, if anyone needs another reason to be mad at him.

    About 60% of my co-workers are hanging on to the bottom rung of the economic ladder by a pinkie. They know when the paychecks get delivered to the office and they’ll bum a ride if they don’t have enough gas left to get there. As a student I lived under similar constraints, though with supportive family and decent prospects.

    If Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan get their way there will be far more like her and worse. Just casualties in the Right’s rush to get their hands on everything in America worth having.

  33. 33
    The Very Reverend Battleaxe of Knowledge says:

    When I was living in my car for a year, 20 years ago, it took me about 9 months to realize that I could get Food Stamps—I honestly thought they were only for families with children or single mothers. Getting them enabled me to eat—although what’s up with not being able to use them for cooked food?—but they helped me out in a much more important fashion.

    I was able to walk from store to store to store, spending as little as possible over a whole dollar amount and getting the change. This gave me bus fare, 50¢ to use the shower at the swimming pool, laundromat change, shaving cream and razors…finally I was able to get a job and get back on my feet.

    The system nowadays where they give you a debit-like card would have prevented that and I would have been up shit creek. I also notice the dollar amount people get hasn’t changed at all in 20 years. My point is, fuck anybody who judges how people use what few resources they have—could it be they know their needs better than you do, Rush et. al? Sorry—I’ve been saving that up for a while. The last time Food Stamps came up here I was a day late and a dollar short.

  34. 34
    Arclite says:

    I occasionally reflect on how lucky I am. I make a modest salary, and am the only breadwinner for a family of four, and live in a very small apartment. Life can be hard.

    But I have food, a roof, a car that runs, healthy active children, and a body that functions pretty well for my age. I don’t own a home, but I have no debt. I have electricity that runs all these wonderful appliances so I can cook and clean swiftly. I got cancer, but was lucky enough to get it cut out and get meds that made it go away. I have a nice computer I can play games on, an nice TV and sound system I can watch movies on, good running shoes I can use to go jogging, and I live in Hawaii, a fantastically beautiful place.

    And like John, I know my modest life is a king’s life in any other era and in most other countries in the world. On occasion I realize that, and am thankful.

  35. 35
    RossInDetroit says:

    40 years ago my mom was raising me and my 5 siblings on inadequate child support and public assistance. She busted her ass to get a grant to put a roof on the house and upgrade the dangerous wiring. We ate government cheese and had subsidized school lunches. She was smart and had help navigating the bureaucracy. I can’t imagine the pressure a mother is under in those circumstances.

  36. 36
    Halteclere says:

    I’ve been sitting here for a while, in my hotel room taking a break from a late night of work trying to capture my thoughts on John’s post. Thank you for sharing your compassion for this woman, and for showing how to see the world from a non-insulated perspective.

  37. 37

    As a society, we really aren’t happy that most of us have enough, are we? No, we have to go out of our way to see to it that those who don’t have enough feel ashamed. We hear an awful lot about “class envy”, and sure enough, there is a shitload of class envy in this country. The weird thing is, though, that I always thought “class envy” meant that the have-nots envied all the great stuff the haves had, but that isn’t how it works. No, it’s the haves who are beside themselves with envy over the few pitiful scraps the have-nots can scrape together.

    It disgusts me. People making hundreds of thousands of dollars a year are weeping and wailing about some poor family who get, what, $100 a month to buy food? $150 a month? Hell, I’m lucky. I don’t even know how much money you get a month in food stamps. I’ve never been on them–but not because I’m such a go-getter; shit I’ve done just about everything wrong in my life that I could.

    I took 6 years to graduate college, because they suspended me twice for my shitty grades, and I still got a degree. Then it took me 6 years to get my M.A. because I had a bad bout of depression, which you can only afford to let get in the way of your life if you have a wife who is willing to give you the time you need to write your overdue papers that’ll get you the grades for the classes you need for your degree. And since I have sever ADD, I can’t hold a good paying job, but–lucky me–my wife has a great job, so I don’t need to worry too much; I just keep up the house and take care of our little girl and work on my little non-profit when I can. But I guess Mitt Rmoney would tell me I’m sooooo much better than some “lazy” poor leech who needs food stamps or welfare to buy enough beans and milk to feed her children.

    I hate Republicans so deeply and savagely that there aren’t words for it.

  38. 38
    jl says:

    Good post, good thoughts. Thanks.

    I feel the same way, and would not mind an income tax increase if it would stop the cruelty and self destructive national behavior.

    And I am nowhere near the tragically nit qyute rich enough people you read about in the NYT.

  39. 39
    clayton says:

    Yeah, Michael Berry, a local talk show wing nut, asked his listeners to video your same experience, except he was looking for T boners.

    He got no local takers.

    I wonder why.

    I know it is so hard. It is so hard to keep hearing such sad stories and . . .

    It kills me that there are people who don’t care about the poor black woman at the gas station with her two kids while I work with people who use their poor neighbors to make themselves look better.

    I hate people.

    I truly do.

  40. 40
    Alison says:

    Thanks for writing this, John. It is really good to be reminded that not everyone is a fucking asshole. The people who rant against helping the poor drive me almost to the point of homicide, and this helps talk me down. I just cannot grasp the mindset of people who are so spiteful and cruel and so lacking in compassion that they want to make things as hard as fucking possible on the people who already have it way too damn hard to begin with. How do they fucking live with themselves? And considering they tend to be believers, what on Earth will they say when they meet their maker? (Who, I fully believe, is as disgusted with them as I am…)

  41. 41
    Karmicjay says:

    Long time lurker, not sure if this will be published. But hey I can try.
    Thank you for writing this.
    We are so fucked as a nation.
    Was getting my hair cut, this barber shop I always go to. Now bought out by a young kid (whose dad is also a barber) from the older Italian immigrant.
    We talked about the state of the nation, I was amazed that he did not know that there were 40 million plus people without health insurance.
    But he agreed something needed to be done since he and his dad paid a lot for the private health insurance we have.
    But then again he said all those people on welfare should not be getting all those benefits for life. I had to tell him there are no life time benefits and they are not great, just enough to scrape by. Seriously, how uninformed are a significant number of people?

  42. 42
    Flugelhorn says:

    Oh my goodness. Guilt about not being poor. I shall eschew all my earnings which were the result of my efforts and hard work. Shame on you for enjoying the fruits of your labor when there are poor people about.

    The questions you should be asking are… Did she stay in school? Did she intend to have a baby? Did she think about her future at all before it was too late? Contrary to popular belief, people don’t fall out of a truck into a pile of cash while others fall out of the truck into a pile of shit. The vast majority of people who have money worked hard to get it and have problems of their own. Should I sacrifice the welfare of my child for the squirrel who didn’t gather his own nuts?

    Why did you not write her a check John? Why not give her some of those peel and eat shrimp? I suppose guilt is more convenient.

    How much more do we pay in taxes in order to make the climb up this slippery slope? At what percentage of poor do we stop and say, “That’s enough?” Do we keep giving everything we own until there is not one poor person left? Do we give until everyone is barely scratching by, while some of the population works their butt off so they can give it all to the poor while others just go to the mailbox?

    Welfare needs to have limits placed upon it. What is the incentive to go farther than your mailbox if you get paid for simply being poor for the entirety of your life?

  43. 43
    Kilkee says:

    35-odd years ago I was 20, newly married with a baby, struggling to finish college. Had food stamps, which in those days were issued in exchange for cash, i.e., depending on your income you got, say, a $20 booklet of food stamps for maybe $5, maybe $15, maybe $18. Didn’t matter: at checkout you got the same contempt from other shoppers, sometimes from the clerks. On at least one occasion the clerk demanded to know “How long do they let you kids get free stuff like this?” “As long as I’m broke and have a child, I think,” I said. “But don’t worry, I’ll pay it back and then some.” I don’t know if she believed me, but 35 years after law school I certainly have. One of the better investments Uncle Sam ever made.

  44. 44
    Gus says:

    Amen all around. I have a comfortable middle class life. I struggle to make ends meet, but only because I eat out a lot, spend extra for good food (and craft beer), and send my son to an expensive daycare (worth every penny). I could be taxed more and am happy to pay more.

  45. 45
    NancyDarling says:

    John Cole, I am too old, but if I were young enough, I would have your babies!

  46. 46
    Studly Pantload, the emotionally unavailable unicorn says:

    Generally, Cole, I dig your posts because you can make getting your rant on high (if coarse and visceral) art. Even if you’re just ranting at your Unruly Minions (& don’t think we don’t enjoy that title), but always better when directed at the ebbil side of the aisle.

    But this is a whole another plane of layin’ down some fat truth. Keep it goin’.

  47. 47
    Gus says:

    @Flugelhorn: Welfare has limits placed on it douchebag. You’re on the wrong blog. Go hang out at Reason.

  48. 48
    jl says:

    @Flugelhorn:

    You brought up guilt, giving up everything as long as one person is poorer. Neither of those things are in Cole’s post.

    I won’t go over all the the other nonsense you are stuffing into another person’s mouth.

    The only thing remotely resembling guilt Cole mentioned in the post was shame at taking his advantages for granted. And that kind of feeling is just plain old Christian (or Muslim, or Buddhist, or civilized, for that matter) morality , that I thought olde tymey All American parents taught their kids.

  49. 49
    clayton says:

    @Flugelhorn: You got Ace’s back, I see. It will be good to see you all boycott the intertubes this Friday.

    Idiot.

  50. 50
    dopeyo says:

    @Flugelhorn: if you, like me, were born white, male and middle-class in america, don’t you realize this is way better than hitting the lottery?

    are you so miserable you begrudge a woman oatmeal and diapers?

    tebow save me from a country filled with people like you, ruled by people like you.

  51. 51
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    @Flugelhorn:

    I shall eschew all my earnings which were the result of my efforts and hard work.

    Well good on you. I guess you’ve actually read that Bible people are always jabbering about and you’ve decided to be perfect. I couldn’t do it myself. I’m just talking about a negligible increase in the marginal tax rate and smarter gov’t spending. I won’t read any more of your post, for fear of finding out that this was the petulant tantrum of a self-important douchebag with a bloated sense of his own worth. Then I would have to tremble for you if I ever think that God is just. Or exists.

  52. 52
    Studly Pantload, the emotionally unavailable unicorn says:

    @Flugelhorn:

    Mmm – pie!

    Perpartion time 12 – 24 hours (including digestion)

    Ingredients

    1 store-bought pie crust
    2 cups creamed corn
    3 1/2 cups granulated sugar
    1 cup butter
    1 tsp. chocolate laxatives
    1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
    2 large eggs
    2 1/2 cups shit
    2 girls 1 cup (optional)

    PREHEAT oven to 375° F.

    CONSUME creamed corn, sugar, butter, laxatives, and walnuts.
    Combine in stomach for 2 hours.
    Add stomach acids.
    Churn in bile and other bodily juices until creamy.
    Empty, through rectum, into a large mixing bowl.

    Add eggs, one at a time, and beat well after each addition.
    Using a spatula or wooden spoon, smooth the mixture into the pie crust.

    BAKE for 50 to 60 minutes or until dark brown.
    Let cool for 15 minutes.

    SERVE warm in cup with whipped cream and bran flakes.

  53. 53
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Flugelhorn:

    Contrary to popular belief, people don’t fall out of a truck into a pile of cash while others fall out of the truck into a pile of shit.

    No? So how, exactly, did I “earn” the trust fund I got from my grandfather? He died when I was 10, so I really didn’t give much value for labor, but I somehow got a pile of cash anyway.

    It cracks me up that people like you are absolutely convinced that, say, Paris Hilton earned every dollar she has and certainly didn’t fall into a pile of cash by virtue of being born to the right parents.

  54. 54
    Flugelhorn says:

    @jl: Reading comprehension. Look into it.

    t was a heart-wrenching experience, and then I looked down at my purchases- crab meat, panko, buffalo mozzarella, green onions, dijon mustard, a couple bottles of wine, and some peel and eat shrimp, and I felt like the biggest most entitled dick ever as I was rung up and handed the lady my debit card and then declined a receipt because “I just do my banking online and I’ll deal with it next week.” At which point I realized how debased and out of touch I am. Here is a woman buying what she can to keep her kid alive, and I’m buying luxury foods, for a party, for other people, and I’m not even worried about the price. However ashamed that young woman ahead of me was, I am sure I felt more ashamed as I understood what I had just said.

  55. 55
    Flugelhorn says:

    @Mnemosyne: Ahhh.. the convenient quoter of context obfuscation. You couldn’t grab the one additional sentence and still make your point, could you?

    The vast majority of people who have money worked hard to get it and have problems of their own.

    You do not comprise the majority. Even in Wisconsin.

  56. 56
    Mnemosyne says:

    @jl:

    You brought up guilt, giving up everything as long as one person is poorer. Neither of those things are in Cole’s post.

    I think Flugelhorn is rejecting the specific and repeated words of someone else with the same initials as our host:

    Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”

    But, yanno, the Bible is totally literal when it comes to things like how the ark was built, but all that stuff Jesus said about how rich people will find themselves refused entrance into heaven was just metaphorical.

  57. 57
    john fremont says:

    @Flugelhorn:

    Welfare needs to have limits placed upon it. What is the incentive to go farther than your mailbox if you get paid for simply being poor for the entirety of your life?

    Have you been in cryogenic storage since 1993? In 1996 the Welfare Reform Act from the Contract With America ended “welfare as we know it ” according to Rush Limbaugh, Newt Gingrich etc.

  58. 58
    Flugelhorn says:

    @Mnemosyne: Fuck Jesus. I’m an agnostic.

  59. 59
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Flugelhorn:

    The vast majority of people who have money worked hard to get it and have problems of their own.

    The funniest part of all is that you actually believe that. You actually believe that your pitiful salary puts you on the same plane as a Hilton or a Bush or a Koch.

    You make, what, $200K a year? And you think that puts you on the same financial plane as someone who makes $200K a month?

  60. 60

    @Flugelhorn: Look. You’re not going to get any traction for your Randian “fuck the poor, they deserve it because they made bad choices” schtick here. Or your “my life as someone who earns enough to pay a lot of taxes is so hard” schtick either. You are comprehensively ignorant of the barriers faced by the poor and of the inadequacy of the social supports available to them. And yet, in your comprehensive ignorance, you see fit to lecture people far more knowledgeable than yourself. How privileged, how arrogant, how Republican.

    Like Jimperson upthread, I’ve fucked up plenty and been out of commission due to depression at times and I’ve landed on my feet anyway, because I had the good fortune to be born into a family that could help me out and into a social class that meant I could get a good education and thus a head start. Good fortune. I didn’t work hard to be born into my family or social class. Neither did I achieve the added bonus of being born white and thus not having to deal with racial discrimination.

    Nobody is where they are because they didn’t make any mistakes. Some people’s mistakes cost them a lot more than others, because of factors that are no fault of their own. If you can’t understand that … just fuck off and try learning until you can.

  61. 61
    Eliad says:

    A tip from the poor to the poor: you can get coin rolls for free at almost any bank. All you need to fill them is the roll, a pen (or knife), and the coins. It’s 50 pennies in a roll, or 40 nickels, or 50 dimes, or 40 quarters. It doesn’t take very long to roll coins and giving the cashier a few rolls of coins is nowhere near as degrading as counting them at the counter.

  62. 62
    Mnemosyne says:

    @TooManyJens:

    Flugelhorn’s just letting us all know that Donald Trump got where he is today not by inheriting $35 million and being installed as the head of Daddy’s company when he was fresh out of business school, but through his own hard work. To say that Trump fell into a pile of money he didn’t deserve is just unfair to the poor man.

  63. 63
    Scamp Dog says:

    @Karmicjay:

    Long time lurker, not sure if this will be published.

    Ha! As long as you’re not using any of the spam filter’s naughty words, your comment will get through. (Sorry, I just had to tease you about this; you’ve seen the amount of nonsense that gets into the comments around here, right?)

    But then again he said all those people on welfare should not be getting all those benefits for life. I had to tell him there are no life time benefits and they are not great, just enough to scrape by. Seriously, how uninformed are a significant number of people?

    Well, when the media people in charge of the debate aren’t terribly well informed themselves, why should the rest of the population be any different?

  64. 64
    jnfr says:

    At least threads like this are good for identifying the best pie filter targets.

  65. 65
    jl says:

    @Flugelhorn:

    Feeling like an entitled dick is not the same as feeling guilt. You should understand that very well.

    The word guilt is not in there. Perhaps your sensibilities (Edit: or self awareness) are particularly primitive. In the past I have suddenly had a realization that I was oblivious to some advantage I had, or had been rude to some inadvertently, or had taken something for granted and felt disappointed with myself. That is not the same as feeling guilty.

    The only word with a connotation at all close to guilt I see in the post is shame, which involved Cole realizing that he took his advantages for granted.

    Also, you did not respond to the other thing I mentioned that you unfairly read into Cole’s post. I have you on that cold, don’t I?

  66. 66
    jl says:

    @Flugelhorn:

    The dictionary. Look into it.

    guilt
    noun
    1. the fact or state of having committed an offense, crime, violation, or wrong, especially against moral or penal law; culpability: He admitted his guilt.
    2. a feeling of responsibility or remorse for some offense, crime, wrong, etc., whether real or imagined.
    3. conduct involving the commission of such crimes, wrongs, etc.: to live a life of guilt.

    shame
    noun
    1. the painful feeling arising from the consciousness of something dishonorable, improper, ridiculous, etc., done by oneself or another: She was overcome with shame.

  67. 67

    @Maude:

    How did they sell them from the EBT card?

    This was in ye olden dayes when food stamps were actually paper.

    I suspect welfare benefit fraud nowadays is redefined as, well, using it.

  68. 68
    Derek says:

    @Horrendo Slapp (formerly Jimperson Zibb, Duncan Dönitz, Otto Graf von Pfmidtnöchtler-Pízsmőgy, Mumphrey, et al.) .: No, it’s the haves who are beside themselves with envy over the few pitiful scraps the have-nots can scrape together

    That is the most incredible thing I’ve read to sum up the disgust I feel toward my political opponents… and the shame I feel at myself for not recognizing the blessings bestowed upon me every day. And John’s original post made me get a little teared-up.

    I don’t have or need food stamps. But I can go shopping tomorrow with my kids and put another $50 worth of dry goods in the local food bank. Funny how I always vow to do that regularly around Thanksgiving and Christmas, and always seem to forget around MLK day, let alone Memorial Day.

  69. 69
    maskling says:

    i don’t get it john, how in the HELL were you ever a republican? i just don’t get it. the person who posted this cannot have been a republican.

    i don’t get it.

    good on you cole, good on you.

  70. 70

    Cole, you made me tear up with this post. You’re a good man, and thank you for speaking so evocatively on this subject.

    Republicans should be very ashamed of themselves for trying to shame and blame the poor, but of course, they aren’t.

  71. 71
    deadrody says:

    You do know, John, that no politician has to raise your taxes for you to either 1) pay more taxes, or 2) donate that money to charity. There is no law that says you can ONLY pay the tax rate assigned to you. You could fill out your 1040 form and find you owe $200, and then, lo and behold, you could send in $400.

    Just so you know that is always an option for you. Wouldn’t want you to be mistaken that those mean old Republicans are preventing you from helping the poor.

    And if you think that the $4 trillion we’re spending that we don’t have isn’t enough, you’re a fucking moron.

  72. 72
    maskling says:

    @deadrody: truly deadrody is the master of missing the point.

    could it be intentional, or is deadrody really this obtuse?

  73. 73
    Patricia Kayden says:

    Interesting how the Repubs are worried about what the pooor use their $$$ for, but not worried at all about how the rich spend $$$. Don’t the rich benefit from huge tax breaks much more than the poor benefit from welfare?

  74. 74
    Bex says:

    @Flugelhorn: Not enough balls to be an atheist, eh?

  75. 75
    Ordovician Bighorn Dolomite (formerly rarely seen poster Fe E) says:

    @Studly Pantload, the emotionally unavailable unicorn:

    But this is a whole another plane of layin’ down some fat truth. Keep it goin’

    Amen to that.

  76. 76
    gaz says:

    I know quite a few people that use food banks, many of them responsible for producing and gathering those luxury food items you mentioned.

    One of the little girls I know asked my wife why all of the food they get is past it’s date – she was starting wrap her young mind around the poverty dynamic in this country.

    My wife, long aware of this issue, was at a loss as to how to explain it truthfully without hurting the kid’s feelings.

    We are one of the wealthiest nations on the planet. The way we treat our poor is nothing short of shameful. Too often, food banks are little more than a way to treat our poor as garbage dumbwaiters. Aside from the stuff that’s expired and inedible (like milk TWO WEEKS passed it’s sell by date) the stuff is unhealthy junk.

    Food assistance generally runs out long before the end of the month, even for the working poor.

    Not to mention medical. Don’t even get me started.

    Sometimes I hate this country. If there’s any argument against the US being a Christian nation, it’s this.

  77. 77
    gaz says:

    @Bex: Agnosticism is the only empirically sound position in this respect. Occam’s Razor is not the same thing as science. In fact, Occam’s razor all too often flies in the face of science. The world around us contains very little that is explainable with the simplest possible answer. The underlying answers are usually complex, and belie simple explanation.

  78. 78
    gaz says:

    @Flugelhorn: You could use some lived experience. Desperately so. Living under a bridge for a month would give you a much needed attitude adjustment.

  79. 79
    gaz says:

    I’m not wealthy by any means (although I used to be). I can relate with John’s post.

    When I’m in the position that John describes (and have been quite a few times), I often step up and hand the teller my card or some cash to pay the difference. It’s tricky to do so without putting the person on the spot. I usually find that making it about me helps ;) Like so:

    I say something to the effect of “Hey, I’ve got this. I’m in a hurry anyway, and I’ve been there before. Don’t worry about it, just pay it forward when you get the chance.”

    If they refuse at that point, I back off, but usually they just smile and say thank you.

    It feels a hell of a lot better to do something in some small way, than to sit there and reflect on my own privilege.

    I’m not passing any judgement here, and there are many times when I simply cannot afford to do this. Just saying that it feels good, rather than feeling bad about the mess. And offering it FWIW.

  80. 80

    We are one of the wealthiest nations on the planet. The way we treat our poor is nothing short of shameful. Too often, food banks are little more than a way to treat our poor as garbage dumbwaiters.

    This is why the best thing to give to food banks, or charities in general, is money.

  81. 81
    Gretchen says:

    Cole’s not the most entitled dick ever. That would be Flugelhorn. Thanks for the story, John, and to everyone with suggestions on how to help in such a situation.

  82. 82
    mere mortal says:

    Flugelhorn Says:
    “The questions you should be asking are… Did she stay in school? Did she intend to have a baby? Did she think about her future at all before it was too late?”

    Those might be the questions you would ask, if you were casting about to justify the putrescence of your life, for any excuse not to have sympathy, charity, or even acknowledgement of the humanity of your neighbor.

    So yes, those might be the questions *you* would be asking.

  83. 83
    Jason says:

    @rammalamadingdong:

    Sounds like WIC, WIC gives benefits that list what foods can be bought, and there’s an annoyingly exacting list. It’s easy to make mistakes with it, especially with ESL or people without a good education.

    A lot of times, I’m the cashier that ends up dealing with the ones that don’t have the right type of eggs/cereal/etc. I know it must be painful to have to go back and forth to get the right ones, fortunately I work 3rd shift and usually have a co-worker with me, so its usually slow enough for me to run and get the right ones for them.

    It’s not much to help, but sometimes its the small things. And never mind that, on some other day, it might be ME needing help.

  84. 84
    Jason says:

    @Flugelhorn:

    The questions you should be asking are… Did she stay in school? Did she intend to have a baby? Did she think about her future at all before it was too late? Contrary to popular belief, people don’t fall out of a truck into a pile of cash while others fall out of the truck into a pile of shit. The vast majority of people who have money worked hard to get it and have problems of their own. Should I sacrifice the welfare of my child for the squirrel who didn’t gather his own nuts?

    A lot of people worked hard to get their money. A lot of people were lucky to get money. A lot of them screwed people over to get money.

    A lot of people work hard and still don’t have money. A lot of people are unlucky and don’t have money. A lot of them have been screwed over for their money

    How much more do we pay in taxes in order to make the climb up this slippery slope? At what percentage of poor do we stop and say, “That’s enough?” Do we keep giving everything we own until there is not one poor person left? Do we give until everyone is barely scratching by, while some of the population works their butt off so they can give it all to the poor while others just go to the mailbox?

    How much more? Enough. And, the poor have plenty of reason to work, for one thing, if you think they’re getting rich off food stamps, or hell, even just surviving comfortably, you’re an idiot.

    I’m a cashier, I see them when its that time of the month, and I see their entire family. I see what their balance remaining is when their transaction ends. You think they don’t have one HELL of a good incentive to find a good job?

    Look at their remaining balance sometime at the beginning of the month. Try to figure out how you’d make that last, it can be done, but its not pleasant. Oh and when you say people will just collect forever: Welfare Reform, 1996.

    Welfare needs to have limits placed upon it. What is the incentive to go farther than your mailbox if you get paid for simply being poor for the entirety of your life?

    EVEN if there’s no limit on how long they can collect and their benefits are doubled, they still have strong incentive to get a good job. For one thing, a good job could pay even more, second, people like you won’t judge them, and third, a job would be something of theirs.

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