Archive for Saturday, June 16, 2012

Vital funds

June 16, 2012


To the editor:

This would seem to be a very poor time to cut the funding for food stamps (SNAP) and WIC (Women, Infants and Children). Food prices are going up, and so are the costs for necessities that are purchased at the grocery but are not food, such as soap. Requests for help from the food banks are going up. Just Food in Lawrence saw a 145 percent increase between the first four months of 2011 and those of 2012.

Food stamps have been very effective for many years in helping people who are in a temporary bind avoid slipping into poverty. They have helped others pull themselves out of the poverty status, which is around $22,000 yearly income for a family of four. Then too, they have softened the sharpest edge of poverty, hunger, for many others. Nearly half of the 46 million food stamp recipients are children. We can imagine how much it must hurt to know that your children are hungry and that you have no food to give them. We were all children once; surely we can find a better time to cut these important funds.


Ragingbear 5 years, 7 months ago

Pro life until birth, then the state screws you. Typical Republican. Next they will try and change child labor laws so that we can force a 12 year old to work on a farm for nearly nothing...Oh wait...

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 7 months ago

"and never depended on the government for anything."

You're either a liar or really ignorant of all the things government does that you depend on.

Leslie Swearingen 5 years, 7 months ago

No, it is not that simple. Poor people fall in love, get married and want to have families just like everyone else. Most are working and still meet the requirement for food stamps. They should not be made to feel embarrassed for this, but they should take them and use them.
Teachers quality for food stamps, is it wrong for any of them to have children? Ever heard the term safety net? Know what happens when that safety net is yanked away as someone is falling?

jhawkinsf 5 years, 7 months ago

But what if that safety net turns into a trampoline? You fall down, get picked up. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. It's often said with those in recovery that a person must hit their bottom before they can begin the journey towards recovery. If that safety net, or trampoline, prevents you from hitting your bottom, then the road to recovery never begins. In fact, because the net prevents the fall, it then becomes the very instrument for preventing the recovery.
Maybe it's like teaching your child to ride a bicycle. At some point, you must let go of the bike. They will fall. And it will be difficult to see your child cry as the blood trickles from his knee. But unless you let go, they will never learn to ride.

Leslie Swearingen 5 years, 7 months ago

The term safety net comes from the net they use beneath the acrobats at the circus. If they don't have one and they fall, they don't get up. I do not believe that someone has to hit bottom before they can start to better their lives. Suppose someone is working a dead end job and decided to go back to school to get a specific job, they quality for the loans, they are reasonably assured they can get a good job. Should they not do so, or should they wait until they are homeless? These are not children we are talking about but adults. Suppose an elderly person is struggling to get though a door, they may have something in their arms, the door may be difficult to open. Would you help them, or would you stand aside?

jhawkinsf 5 years, 7 months ago

I worked with homeless adults a number of years ago. I was amazed that when given the opportunity to leave homelessness behind, at great expense to we the taxpayers, how few actually made that choice. So many made bad decisions along the way, that I became convinced that for most, homelessness was their given choice.
I recall an individual who stayed at a transitional housing program for a few months, long enough to find a job, and save to get an apartment. What did he do with that money? He bought an old car, one he could not afford to register and insure. He intended to live in that car. Within a month, the clunker came to the attention of the police who then had it towed. Back to the streets that person went. What surprised me was not so much that decision, but that another person made the same decision. And then another. And another, despite my desperate urgings that they make other choices. Of course, there were the people who decided to use their money to buy drugs in volume and sell them. That, as we all know, involves some risk. Again, it wasn't an individual who did that, it was several. It became many. Then there were those who just got drunk or high, using the food and shelter provided, freeing up their meager resources for the alcohol and drugs. After a while, it became obvious that very few were actually interested in changing their lifestyle. And the program and it's staff had a disincentive to segregate those who want to change from those who don't. It became time for me to leave.
That's your safety net, a vast array of services consumed by huge numbers of people, many who do not deserve to be helped, and a few that do. All administered by people whose job depends on not determining who is in the first group and who belongs in the latter. It's throwing vast sums of money and hoping some of it will stick.

chootspa 5 years, 7 months ago

First off, a homeless shelter does not service exactly the same population as SNAP or WIC. Those programs are targeted toward the working poor. The generalizations for one do not necessarily translate to the other. A lot has to go wrong between needing food stamps and living in a cardboard box. But not getting those food stamps could be part of what goes wrong.

Yes, there are lifestyle homeless who don't care to do better. There are addicts. There are mentally ill, sometimes self-medicating homeless that aren't serviced well by a simple shelter, and there are those who really want out, really want to work, really want to do better. I'd rather support a bunch of leaches than deny a single person the chance to get themselves out. I'd rather work to improve the system to better help those who want to be helped than have the attitude that bootstrapping is the only form of motivation anyone needs.

tomatogrower 5 years, 7 months ago

Unfortunately, a lot of homeless adults will not get out of the cycle. They have no incentive, but of course, their life style means they probably won't live a normal life span. But the vast majority of the safety net is used for families. I personally have seen many of them get a leg up out of a bad situation. You were probably working in a shelter that catered towards the homeless by choice. Try volunteering in a shelter with families. They have more of an incentive to get out of the system.

jhawkinsf 5 years, 7 months ago

I worked at a transitional housing program that had 3 family shelters and one for single adults, though I do admit most of my time was spent with the single adults. But not all. The program itself was very well designed. As I look back upon it, I'm not at all sure why so few succeeded, other than the above stated reason. We had one counselor who was in recovery to help deal with those issues. One had extensive mental health experience, one had gone through the previous amnesty so was well versed in immigration issues. One counselor worked with youth. One counselor was ordained so was helpful with spiritual issues.
With families, success can be defined differently than with single adults. Just getting off the streets and into housing is a success. For single adults, we may expand the definition of success to include becoming productive members of society. For families, perhaps the success rate was a little better, into housing followed by a couple of decades of consuming public services. Great. For single adults, it was an utter failure. But here's the question. If we had not spent so much money on single adults (all those counselors, housing, etc.) could we have done a better job for the families, assuming we value their success more than that of singles? By providing services to both, do we doom both?

Cant_have_it_both_ways 5 years, 7 months ago

They have helped others pull themselves out of the poverty status ++++++++++++++++++++++++ Then they continue to use the food stamps taking money out of the system they no longer need.

verity 5 years, 7 months ago

So many people complaining about the money the poor people take out of the system. I am definitely in favor of helping people learn to help themselves and become self sufficient if that if possible.

That said, what about all the wealthy people taking money out of the system? Beyond subsidies and tax breaks for many corporations and the upper classes, what about the middle and upper middle class people taking advantage of government programs that they can well afford to live without? The Rural Electric Association is something that comes to mind. Don't know what the rules are currently, but in the past I've had friends who were well able to afford to live in a style I'll never even aspire to, yet they were taking advantage of the cheap electricity they could get because they happened to live in the country.

If we're going to complain about the less fortunate among us, maybe we should also be complaining about the fortunate and their drain on our tax dollars.

Ken Lassman 5 years, 7 months ago

Regarding Holcomb, I have no problem with rural folks getting their electricity, but the first Holcomb plant was built on loans from the RUC that were refinanced and rolled over so many times that I've lost count and they are still unpaid.

Seems to me that the primary reason for expanding this unpaid-for plant is to help pay off the first plant by selling electricity from the second one to other customers who have more restrictive conditions in their own state, but can buy juice from Kansas because we don't mind putting a bunch of CO2 and other stuff into the air and use our water resources as much.

Wind farms in Kansas seem to have no problem selling electricity to other customers both in-state and out of state; why can't the Sunflower Power folks get out of hock by building one of them and keeping the CO2/downwind pollution/water consumption down in the process?

verity 5 years, 7 months ago

This was not in Kansas and I was told by the person involved that they were getting subsidized rates because of the REA. As I said, it was some years ago.

While I have no argument with much of your reply, you weren't replying to my point at all, which is that it's not just the "poor" people who are being subsidized, but they are the ones who are continually being complained about. Many people and companies are also being subsidized when they don't need it.

I also never said anything about rural life one way or the other. I grew up way out back of nowhere and still have family there---I know exactly what it's like.

I'm not here to start a fight, but I am objecting to you trying to make it seem that I said something that I didn't---and the insults were really not necessary.

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