Never forget, O guttersnipe, that thou art on welfare!


Note: I am aware that only TANF gets the official welfare designation, but for the purposes of this blog post, I lump all forms of taxpayer-funded assistance as being welfare.

Raise your hand if you have received any government assistance for any reason.

One, two, three…

Then the title of this post will resonate all too well with you.

I am here to tell you that you are worthless…you have done nothing…will do nothing…deserve nothing…and I cannot be bothered to look at you or share oxygen with you.

Never mind my precious taxpayer dollars. Are there no workhouses?

What? You’re on break? Your kind  get BREAKS?!

Oh, all right then. Read on.

Anyone who has been in FA/SA for any length of time can tell you that while fat hatred is often its own entity, it very often intersects with other forms of bigotry, including racism, classism, and healthism/ableism. Nowhere are these undercurrents more prominent than when discussing food stamps.

Way back when, you have massive sheets of colorful stamps that stood out like medieval peasant regalia and called attention to your impoverished, government-sponging status. The sophisticated welfare queen of the 2010s has updated her image with plastic, usually with a expertly crafted backdrop of a state landmark and the name of the state you’re sponging off of written in calligraphy. Look out. It could be coming to a DHHS office near you.

With that, any Section 8 sultaness in a sequined Goodwill beret can come into a store looking like a normal person whose entitled to bank accounts (She’s working? You don’t say!) and credit cards. What is the world coming to?

That is, essentially, what many of these debates (if you can call them that) are about. If you want to criticize government assistance programs, or the principle of government assistance, that is your prerogative. You would even be somewhat correct to do so, as government assistance programs are not perfect and the welfare solution is but a partial and temporary one. Prudent counsel on the improvement of the lower economic classes would be much welcome.

Prudence is in short supply, sorry to say. Read any newspaper feature on food stamps and I can guarantee you that you will be treated to a barrage of comments to the effect of lazy school drop-outs are getting fat off of junk food purchased with food stamps.

The underlings are evil, let us count the ways…

  • People on food stamps are poor, first of all. Enough said.
  • They are fat, which is a sign of their unwillingness to cut back and to work more. Classic sin symbolism.
  • They are stupid.
  • They are stealing from us.
The issue of food access is one that deserves its own blog post, and I addressed it to some degree in a previous post Why I’m Against Food Access for the Poor. Whether or not it is an issue, how it manifests, and what we should do about it are not the focus here, but it is relevant nonetheless. I will explain how in a minute.
The crux of the matter is that, if you are on food stamps, you cannot win. Ever. Not you, no way! Go back in your hole!
In these very same articles, people will complain that people on food stamps have too many food choices. They are buying lobsters, steak, organic produce, yogurt, and everything else that THEY cannot afford to buy despite the fact that they WORK! Why are they not eating from the Dollar Tree, or better yet, garbage cans?
I never understood what all the fuss was about. A couple hundred a month is a couple hundred a month regardless of what it’s spent on, and it’s not like you can get more if you run out. If you run out before your card gets refilled, too bad. Anyway, what exactly is stopping THEM from buying lobsters, soda, and sundry luxuries with their own money? Your couple hundred is just as green as theirs, so why don’t you spend it how you want if it bothers you that much that you haven’t had a Coke in ages?
I’ll tell you what the issue is, and it’s not the fact that the people launching the attacks are disadvantaged in any way by these food stamp recipients. It’s because someone somewhere occupies a station in life less privileged than their own and yet, they are not paying the price for it.
On the other hand, if you do choose to go the cheap route and live on Velteeta, Spaghetti-Os, and Dollar Tree cuisine, you will be openly hated for that as well. You are using their taxpayer money to buy junk, and once you have consumed this dumpster fare, you will send send more of their taxpayer monies down your funnel by getting deadly lifestyle diseases and forcing the government to pay for it. It’s a double-whammy. It does not occur to them that the food they want you to eat is WAY TOO EXPENSIVE for you, and that you would deplete your food stamps in two weeks. Even those who consider themselves passionate about food access are not getting why you aren’t smart enough to buy our favored produce with your free government money.
At this point, you come to realize that some people will look for any excuse to hate you for the sin of needing help. No matter how many times or how foolishly they contradict themselves to do so, they will openly hate you because they can and you cannot fight back.
Something else I noticed about people who are hostile towards those on assistance is that they are constantly looking for examples of frivolous spending on your part. If your handbag looks new, a total stranger will tap you on the shoulder and ask how you got it if you’re on…uh…the dole. You could tell her you bought it at Goodwill/went dumpster diving/panhandled/got it donated by a cousin having a yard sale and she would still tell you to sell it for a whopping 50 cents.
Welfare recipients are not only to starve to death, but to be naked as well or wearing gunnysacks. I’m sure some hipster will turn said sack into poverty chic and the poor will eventually have to pay top dollar for that too, but for now, it is more than appropriate for your underling self. The upside is that they come in all sizes.:)
This ends up being a catch-22 as well because if you want to go to a job interview or any other opportunity-enhancing activity in public, you will need some decent clothes. That costs money. If you are fat, it will cost you even more money, because you may not be  able to shop in mainstream clothing stores. You need to pay more at specialty shops, have them tailored, buy online and pay for shipping, or travel farther away. Since a large subset of the welfare-dependent population will be heavier than average for whatever reason, many of them NOT related to food or lifestyle, like different racial characteristics, this means a lot of government money will be “blown” on fancy clothes. You might also need to have work done on your hair-nothing fancy, just enough to make it presentable. That costs money. If you are of minority race, you might need to find a hairdresser that knows how to work with your hair. That costs money. If you do it yourself, the products cost money. You can’t do that, oh no, not with taxpayer dollars.
Granted, it’s probably not in your best interest to shop at places like Talbots or Amisi if you are on assistance, but it is usually not necessary to do so to get decent clothes. I doubt that most people on assistance do. In the end, it doesn’t matter anyway, because, for the millionth time, you’re on assistance so you’re not entitled to buy anything ever.

Of course, you could do without that and simply wear your unwashed gunnysack to your interview, but then you probably would not get the job. And then you will be accused of not trying hard enough to better yourself. You will probably be accused of being too stupid and lazy to take care of yourself in general, which is why are you are on welfare.

With that, my dear readers, I bid you adieu, and I implore you to never forget, O guttersnipes, that you are on welfare, your very sustenance fueled by the labors of citizens worthier than yourself, and you must accept whatever is handed to you. You mustn’t expect to achieve more than this, to petition to your betters for redress of your grievances, and this shall be your fate until the end of your days. Rest assured your lot will not improve with death, because you, like all the other underlings before you, shall be dumped in a mass grave and forgotten, another anonymous dirty face that said nothing, did nothing, and will be given nothing. Such is the price you pay for your folly and the sins of your fathers.

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10 comments

  1. vesta44 · May 20, 2011

    Been there done that 30-some years ago. I was a single parent, lost my job due to the union going on strike (I voted against striking) and the company closing up shop and moving out of town. No other jobs to be found, so welfare it was for a while. Now, while I was working, I had been buying doubleknit fabric for $1 a yard and making clothes like crazy, so I had quite an extensive wardrobe with very little money invested ($2 for tops and $2.50 for slacks, plus elastic and thread, which was nominal at the time). My parents gave me a small color TV, I had a component stereo I had bought, piece by piece, on sale. My house was a little shit-hole that cost me $80 a month (that covered the house payment, taxes, and insurance, and I owned it).
    When the welfare case worker came to do her home visit (yeah, they actually came to your residence to interview you and make sure you lived where you said you did), she told me that I had too many clothes and I needed to sell some of them. I could also sell the TV and stereo and live on that money for a while. I asked her what fucking planet she was living on and exactly how much money did she think I was going to get out of used clothes, an old TV, and a used stereo? Did she really think that any money I could get out of those items was going to support me for more than a week or two? I also told her that just because I needed welfare right now didn’t mean I was trash or that she had the right to treat me like trash. If she couldn’t treat me like a decent human being that just happened to hit a rough spot and be in need of help for a while, then she could just get the fuck out of my house and not come back. I told her that I would be filing a complaint with her supervisor about her treatment of me, and I did. I was given another caseworker, who never made mention of anything I had, and never told me that I had too much, nor did she ever tell me that I needed to get rid of any of it and live on the proceeds.
    But, and this is a big one, I didn’t grow up in poverty, and I didn’t grow up being told by the powers-that-be that I was a worthless piece of shit and didn’t deserve to have anything (I just got that from my mother, and by the time I needed welfare, I was so over believing anything my mother had to say). So it was pretty easy for me to tell the caseworker to FO and ask for one who would treat me with a modicum of respect (it probably also helped that I knew my rights and wasn’t afraid to demand them and appeal any decision that I thought abrogated my rights). It also helped that I’m a bitch and I had a child to take care of, and fighting for him was more important than fighting for me.

  2. lifeonfats · May 20, 2011

    Another myth that so many of these whiners believe is that people use food stamps to buy fast food, cigarettes (which is not even food) and liquor. No matter how many times they are told you can’t, even if we give them the link to the TANF/SNAP sites which list everything that can be purchased, they still insist everyone is buying out McDonald’s and Roadside Liquors with their EBT’s.

    Someone raised a stink on Facebook about using them to purchase birthday cakes for their child’s party. I guess they would rather see children not celebrate because they should be diving in dumpsters on their birthday or eating day-old baked beans and government cheese. I used my food stamps towards the purchase of a birthday cake for my mom—yeah, my measly $16 a month really sticks it to the richer people, doesn’t it?

    • joannadeadwinter · May 20, 2011

      I think a lot of these people are living back in the days of AFDC when it was a lot easier to sponge off of welfare and get pretty much anything you want. There also was very little help for work and educational activities so people could get off of welfare and you could not work, go to school, and be on welfare at the same time. You were considered too well-off.

      Of course, most people only got a measly allowance and were hardly the Reagan-Era welfare queens with Cadillacs that people like to imagine, but welfare *was* structured differently back then. After all the brouhaha in the late ’90s over welfare reform and workfare, you would think people would be aware that things have changed and that most people on assistance HAVE to work now, both because of assistance requirements and because the allotment isn’t enough to cover you.

  3. Harl Delos · May 20, 2011

    You realize, of course, that there is NO means of transportation that isn’t subsidized by the government? Not air travel, not trains, not busses, not cars, not ships, not even shoe leather.

    We are ALL living on welfare.

    • JoannaDW · May 20, 2011

      Exactly! Thank you! People rely on the government more than they realize, so they need to think long and hard before assuming that anyone who needs any extra help is just a sponger.

  4. Patsy Nevins · May 20, 2011

    Excellent post. I have lived most of my life below or just above the poverty level, at best in lower middle class for a few years. I used to get food stamps many years ago & WIC vouchers for my older son, but only when we needed it desperately. We were always a working poor family & paid our own bills. But people do look down their noses at you & treat you like shit, it is true.

    It is POSSIBLE to get the EBT card & for it not to be used for the person designated. I know this because I know someone who sells almost all her food stamps to her daughter at 50 cents on the dollar so that she has money for beer & cigarettes. However, most people are indeed using them to purchase food.

  5. vesta44 · May 20, 2011

    I just want to add that when I got AFDC back in 1977, I got $198 a month in cash and almost that much in food stamps (for 2 of us, myself and my son). That $198 had to pay the $80 a month to the bank for my house, my gas/electric bill (which ran anywhere from $40 to $100/month depending on season), the water/sewer bill, garbage bill, and put gas in and insurance on my car (Illinois was mandatory auto insurance, even back then, needless to say, I went without car insurance) so I could continue to look for a job (I lived in a small town with no mass transit in rural Illinois). Yeah, I lived like a queen on welfare all right, I sure did. That’s why I ended up losing my house and moving out of it and in with friends, I couldn’t afford the utility bills, even though my utility bills were a lot lower than most peoples’. That house may have been a shithole, but it was a well-insulated shithole.

    • joannadeadwinter · May 20, 2011

      Can I borrow your Cadillac so I can drop by the food stamp office? I hear they’re handing out coupons for Grade A beef and I want to be the first one there.:)

      Anyway, I’m sorry you went through that, and I’m even more sorry that you got treated like a POS by that caseworker of yours. Yeah, a lot of people abuse the system, I have seen more than I will ever be able to talk about but the overwhelming majority of people on assistance are regular people that need the help. I mean, people sponge off of other people all the time in all sorts of ways, so why do only people on welfare get crapped on?

      • vesta44 · May 20, 2011

        I’ve seen a lot of abuse too, of the welfare system. In fact, my ex-daughter-in-law’s sister gets food stamps for herself and her two daughters and she sells them every month so she can buy drugs and booze. Then complains because her kids are going hungry all the time. I figure she’s going to end up killing herself eventually with the drugs, she needs a kidney transplant and no one in her family will volunteer to be a donor. My ex-d-i-l even games the system. She has MS and lupus, is on SSI, gets her meds covered by Medicaid and Medicare, and sells her pain meds so she’ll have money to blow on booze and shopping. I’ve told her she’s going to get caught eventually, but she says they won’t put her in jail because the county doesn’t want to pay for her meds for her medical conditions while she’s in jail (not that she takes them the way she’s supposed to anyway). It’s people like her and her sister that make it almost impossible for people who need help to get that help.

  6. lifeonfats · May 21, 2011

    People do definitely abuse the system. I worked for a non-profit agency that helped homeless families and we discovered one of the clients had enough money to buy take-out every night but at the same time, cried to social services to increase her food stamps because she and her children were going hungry. She was eventually kicked out of the program when we learned she actually did have a house and I suspect relatives were in on the fraud too. So abusers definitely do not help when it comes to honest people trying to make due with what they can while being accused of living high on the hog. These myths are so strong that the Minnesota GOP tried to devise a law where people on food stamps would only be allowed to carry $20 cash on them at all times or risk having their benefits be taken away. I don’t think these people realize that times have changed and it’s mandatory that if you are receiving welfare you must be enrolled in some type of workforce/work training program.

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