Thursday, July 12, 2012

Snap to It

First there was Snap of Snap, Crackle and Pop fame, the delicious cereal that talked to me during my childhood on cold mornings while we waited for the bus to pick us up to go to school.

 Then there is SNAP - the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, which continues to provide support to individuals whose childhoods were marred  or destroyed by unthinkable acts of men whom they trusted and who betrayed that trust.

There is also SNAP that stands for Sustainable Natural Alternative Power. I have no clue what it is, it just came up when I Googled SNAP. No doubt by having "sustainable" in its name it is some sort of "green" program related to carbon credits and politically correct light bulbs. I don't have any desire to find out.

Now there is SNAP, which is the federally funded (Department of Agriculture) Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program. This is the new politically correct term for what we used to call Food Stamps.

Last Fall there was an outcry over a viral video that millions viewed on You Tube. Its haunting refrain was "EBT, my EBT, I just swipe my EBT," and it depicted a young black man taking his sister's (or girlfriend's) EBT (electronic benefits transfer) card to all kinds of establishments to get free things.

Mr. EBT later claimed that the song and video were a spoof, intending to show how the cards are abused. OK, if you say so, Mr. EBT.

But what brings me to post on this topic is another story that I read today about the SNAP program. It's not about fraudulent use this time. Instead, it is about our federal government trying to recruit Spanish speaking people to go on the SNAP program. I am not making this up. The USDA has has produced a series of "novelas" that are like little audio plays where people have conversations about trying to convince a Spanish-speaking person to go apply for food stamps. I am not even kidding you. You can listen to one of the audio productions (The Poet) below and read a translation of the script yourself.

Here is another one called "At the Supermarket." (Translation here.)

Do these bureaucrats not know of such a thing as pride? Or dignity? Or not wanting to be on the government dole? Obviously, all they want is for these people to get handouts from the government so they can hook them, like a drug, and get them to vote for the hand that feeds them.

Brilliant. Brilliantly evil. I just want to cry right now. I have to snap out of it! Our country has to snap out of it.

7/13/12 UPDATE: This article on the food stamp program gives me additional reason to lament the rapid downward spiral to becoming a nation of welfare entitlements.

7/17/12 UPDATE: Here is the USDA webpage that tells you how you can qualify for SNAP: The threshold criteria are so low, yet over 20% of Americans are receiving food stamps. Something does NOT compute!


  1. This narrow view of food assistance arises from a lack of information. This country was founded on a principle if to promoting the general welfare. This blog has forgotten that general welfare would include the welfare of middle class and the underprivileged, as well as the wealthy. Food assistance is necessary for many who are not lazy and just looking for a easy ride. Further, I am incredulous that the catholic position is to argue against food assistance for the needy.

  2. I am much more informed about the food assistance program than anyone I know since I deal with it as part of my job. That is why the "incredulous" thing is that the government is out soliciting takers. A prominent Senator's office contacted mine to offer to push legislation to let nuns (not priests and brothers, only nuns) get on food stamps. No one even asked him to do it. He was trying to find an angle to get in good with Catholics. So no one should preach to me about the virtues of food stamps or that I am uninformed. I did not come from a wealthy family who paid for all my needs. I earned my own money from age 15 and bought my clothes and funded my college and law school (which I am still paying for 17 years after graduating). My family was on food stamps briefly when I was a child, and it was humiliating for my parents, who worked damn hard and never wanted to ask for a handout. They needed them for a few months, and there are people today who truly need the help for a short time. But when the government goes out and rounds up people to convince them they need food stamps, that's as "incredulous" as it gets. The reason 25% of Americans are on food stamps is because of the policies of the current leader of the government. The fact that so many people live at the poverty level is attributable to the Provider in Chief. As for your suggestion that it is the "catholic position" to not argue against food stamps, I never claimed to speak the Catholic (or the catholic) position. I am merely a Catholic who is informed about the issues and then makes up her own mind rather than adhering to talking points from the government. Besides, promoting the general welfare does not mean giving free stuff to needy people so they will vote for you. It means getting out of the way and letting us take care of ourselves. Only then can we take care of one another the way Christ asked us to do. "Whatever you do to the least of my brothers, you do to me," He said. He did not say, "Whatever the government does for the least of my brothers, it does for me." The corporal works of mercy are individual, not political. Enough said about food stamps . . . for now.

  3. The statement that corporal works for mercy are individual and not political is more a lawyer’s position than it is a statement of a catholic position. Christ asked for a person to turn to him entirely. So, it seems incongruous that he would say that an individual has a responsibility to be charitable, but that a group of individuals is exempt from responsibility. Indeed, even Pope Benedict, in his 2009 encyclical, Caritas in Veritate, maintains that nations have obligations to provide social services and welfare programs.

    I can understand that people receiving food stamps might be embarrassed about it. I think this stems more from an individual’s perception that a community might see them as weak or a failure. I suppose sometimes people are responsible for their own failures, but sometimes life is just hard and throws you a curve. Regardless, I’m glad that society has developed safety nets to protect people. And I don’t think there should be any shame in accepting help. After all, there are plenty of government handouts that people receive and don’t feel bad about getting. Guaranteed student loans are subsidized – and no one seems humiliated about getting them. Education is always subsidized - even at private schools that don’t pay taxes – but schools are always happy to get grants. Farmers receive subsidies – some of them receive a lot – and sometimes for planting nothing – but it is treated as a matter of doing business and a method of ensuring continuity of food supply. Camp St Charles used to get government-issued cheese and pasta and butter – and we all enjoyed mac and cheese without a second thought. Small businesses receive government loans and sometimes grants so that they can develop and add to the economy. It seems obvious that a proper role of government involves certain redistribution of wealth and resources.

    Regarding nuns, I admit that I have never considered whether nuns should receive food stamps – or even be eligible for them. On one hand, they don’t always pay individual taxes – and they are members of organizations that don’t pay taxes, maybe they shouldn’t be eligible. But, at the same time, they are human beings and they live in this country legally, and I don’t want to see them starve if they need assistance. So, while I’m not an expert on nuns, I guess I would come down in favor of them receiving food assistance if they need it.