Recently released statistics indicate the number of Americans receiving foods stamps has doubled in the last ten years. This is a troubling figure for a variety of reasons, not the least of which being the sheer number of people who now depend on the government to supplement their family’s food budget – some 47 million Americans.
The report indicates a new trend in food stamp use. It now seems just as many people sign up for benefits in good economic times as bad. This was not true just a couple decades ago. Then, people were more reluctant to sign up for benefits, either because of pride, social stigma, or because it was just plain too difficult to receive them. In those days, it took a deep recession to see increases in the numbers of those participating in the food stamp program, and brighter economic times often reversed that trend.
Source: Food Stamps Charts
Why the Increase in Food Stamp Use?
Some cite looser regulations and less negative social stigma as reasons for the increase. However, I believe there is something else in play. Gone are the days when self-reliance and independence were cherished virtues. People have grown lazy, thanks to technological advances, more white collar work and an abundance of fast food options that require no hunting, no cleaning, no planting…heck, even no cooking, to feed families.
The microwave generation has devolved into the fast food generation. I’m guilty of this myself, often opting to stop by a restaurant on the way home rather than cooking a fresh meal.
This at-the-ready dependence on cheap food, coupled with an overriding desire to “get mine” from the government, has led many to seek benefits they would not take advantage of otherwise.
Now, I personally believe food stamps are necessary for short-term assistance to those truly in need. However, I don’t like the idea of an open-ended benefit to those willing to take assistance without seeking to improve their own lot. I feel the same way about unemployment benefits.
Unfortunately, we’ve all had the experience of being behind a seemingly able-bodied man using food stamps to pay for milk and cheese, and then whipping out a $20 bill for a couple packs of cigarettes. That’s the type of behavior I have a problem with, not the single mom with two kids waiting tables at night to put food on her table.
The larger lesson here is that all of us should have as a goal to become less and less dependent on others, particularly the government.
This week, food stamp benefits are being reduced by $5 billion, and who knows what other benefits will be cut and when. After all, our government is essentially broke. If you are counting on the government to provide assistance, you are at their mercy, and must learn to live on less when cuts happen. Why not learn to live on less now, before you have to, and lessen the chances you will be impacted by these benefits cuts at all.
Cut up the credit cards, downsize out of that expensive car, start growing some of your own food, and get your financial freedom back.