“There are people who trade their food stamps for drugs or a new phone. But you know what? Those people are not the majority.”
By Rachel Birdsell
In answer to Kansas Republicans introducing a bill to drug testing food stamp recipients Kansas Democratic Senator, Oletha Faust-Goudeau, has countered that lawmakers should have to be drug tested, as well. It’s a “what’s good for the goose” thing. Republican lawmakers are complaining that this is merely political theatrics, and while they’re probably correct, isn’t drug testing poor people political theatrics?
I’ve heard people make statements such as, “Well if I have to get drug tested to pay for their food stamps, then by god, they should be tested, too.” It never fails that there’s always a, by god, in there and more often than not, the statement is followed by a spit of tobacco exiting their mouth. I also hear how people are tired of seeing people in the checkout line talking on their new iPhone and using food stamps. The food stamp user in the story always ends up carrying their groceries out to a vehicle that cost more than the gross national product of a small country.
I will concede that there are people who are receiving government assistance who abuse it. There are people who trade their food stamps for drugs or a new phone. But you know what? Those people are not the majority. In fact, the majority of people on benefits are the elderly, and I’m pretty sure Grammy isn’t shuffling down to the corner so she can trade her food stamps for some crack. Besides that, if you don’t know a person’s situation personally then you shouldn’t make assumptions about what phone they’re using or what vehicle they’re driving. Such a small percentage of taxes go for government assistance program that it’s not worth complaining about. If you just feel the need to bitch, complain about all of the corporations who don’t pay any taxes and get government subsidies. Oil companies are a good place to start.
I think that instead of states wasting money to discover a small percentage of their food stamp pool is using drugs, they should spend the money on education. Every head of household in a food stamp family should have to go to a course that teaches how they can buy the most and the healthiest food for their money, and how to prepare that food once they get it home. Home Economics class used to teach people how to do this, but we’ve dropped the ball on this one, I think. We also need mandates that make it so TV dinners aren’t cheaper to buy than a loaf of bread or a pound of fresh green beans.
I haven’t crunched any numbers on what the cost of educating food stamp recipients would be, but I guarantee that it would help a hell of a lot more productive than testing them for drugs or standing around in the grocery store checkout complaining about them.
Rachel Birdsell is a freelance writer and artist. You can drop her a line at firstname.lastname@example.org