Food Stamp Email

“His primary rules were: never allow the public to cool off; never admit a fault or wrong; never concede that there may be some good in your enemy; never leave room for alternatives; never accept blame; concentrate on one enemy at a time and blame him for everything that goes wrong; people will believe a big lie sooner than a little one; and if you repeat it frequently enough people will sooner or later believe it.”
–Psychoanalyst Walter Langer 1943

In the never-ending discussion about entitlements, subsidies, government assistance to the poorest citizens, etc., the emails disguised as jokes float around. I recently received one such email. It has changed over the years, however the message is still the same.

The email made the following assertions:

  1. There are 47 million people on Food Stamps as of 2013
  2. The National Park Service asks people “not to feed the animals”. Because the “animals will not learn to take care of themselves.”

The email makes the claim that this situation is “ironic”, “sad but true”, and is full of “irony”. The overall equations being presented in this email is:

  • Food Stamp Recipients = Wild Animals
  • Food Stamp Recipients ≠ Humans

The other message is that the word “ironic” is still one of the most incorrectly used words in the English Language. The correct word choice would have been “hypocritical”.

The more the stereotype is said and spread the easier it becomes in the future to justify taking away assistance from the poor. The overall message of this email is insulting to humans and animals. It is also promoting a stereotype that someone who gets Food Stamps, or public assistance, is less than human. It doesn’t matter how much money over their lifetime that they paid in Federal, State, and Payroll taxes; the second that they reach out and take one dollar in assistance from the Government they are less than a human. It implies that wild animals are better than they are. It casts an entire group of people into a negative light. That is disturbing.

The left hand side of the first equation in the email could be replaced with just about anything:

  • People who declare bankruptcy = Wild Animals
  • People who take tax deductions = Wild Animals
  • ___________________________= Wild Animals
  • ___________________________= Wild Animals

Etc. Once you start down the list it easily gets longer and longer, until no group or person is left. That is also very disturbing.

It is easier to get an idea, true or not, implanted into a brain than it is to get it removed once it found a home.

First they came for the communists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.
Then they came for the socialists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.
Then they came for me,
and there was no one left to speak for me.
Martin Niemoller

It also takes the light off of the growing income inequality:

Is there any truth to the email? As of 2013 there are 47 million people on Food Stamps. The Food Stamp program goes to assist those who have low incomes, the elderly, disabled, and to feed children. The average monthly benefit per person for food stamps in 2014 is $127.08, and per household it comes to $261.15. Where does the Government get money to fund the Food Stamp Program? From Income Taxes. For an individual with $25,000 in taxable income the Whitehouse.gov Federal Taxpayer Receipt pays a mere 3.89% toward Food and Nutrition Assistance or $65.47 out of the total $3,596.00 spent in taxes. The average American family pays $6,000 a year in subsidies to big businesses.


Links:

Walter Langer (https://roseylinn.wordpress.com/2011/10/12/walter-langer/)

Irony (https://roseylinn.wordpress.com/2014/04/15/word-of-the-day-irony/)

Hypocritical (https://roseylinn.wordpress.com/2014/04/16/word-of-the-day-hypocritical/)

Geese that grow on trees? Trailer for You Are Now Less Dumb Video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zWSe2qezhm4#t=22)

Martin Niemoller First They Came (https://roseylinn.wordpress.com/2013/08/20/martin-niemoller-first-they-came/)

Something Everyone Should Know On Tax Day Video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NdV_CfDRjDc)

Average Monthly Food Stamp Benefit (http://www.fns.usda.gov/pd/34SNAPmonthly.htm)

Federal Taxpayer Receipt (http://www.whitehouse.gov/2013-taxreceipt)

Add it up: The Average American Family Pays $6,000 a Year in Subsidies to Big Business (https://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/09/23)

8 responses to “Food Stamp Email”

  1. when they pay ‘financial’ experts to move money around millions of dollars a year while denying hard working families even a livable wage (if you think minimum wage is livable try it some time)
    and then to support legislation that cuts the very support (food for poor kids) that try’s to insure America doesn’t have to many people ‘starving’ in plain sight….. it’s time to ask yourself: “what kind of people are these who are so greedy they see helping the unfortunate as some kind of sickness.’ and what is totally surprising to me is many of these same people clamoring to take away help are also saying they are religious .. that somehow the poor are poor cause god has made it that way … does that sort of thinking sound familiar?

    Like

    • Its the old prosperity preaching. The only people who ever get rich that way are the preachers who convince enough people to give them money. They should all pay taxes.

      Like

  2. Roseylinn, I had to curtail my comment. Let me say this an outstanding post on a subject where the joke you mentioned is quite ingrained in the minds of those who don’t struggle.

    Your equations boil the issue down quite nicely. As noted in a response to your comment on my recent post on Civil Rights, several statements shock people when I make them. The majority of food stamp recipients are white. And, in the volunteer work I do with homeless families, almost all of them have jobs, usually more than one.

    Poverty knows no color, no political party, no gender, no ethnicity. It is an equal opportunity offender. There are far too many people living paycheck to paycheck in this country. There several outstanding documentaries that tell their stories – “American Winter” and “Paycheck to Paycheck.” Poverty is not due to lack of virtue. It is the absence of money. The homeless mothers (and fathers) I work with as a volunteer are teacher assistants, day care workers, administrative assistants, retail clerks, etc. They work hard and then have to take care of kids.

    Many are on food stamps, but not all. And, no they do not want to have a handout. They want to be helped climbing a ladder. The existence of food stamp fraud is extremely low. Food stamps by themselves cannot make you un-poor. They are helping hand.

    You are correct to end with the Niemoller quote. When we see people say things like this, we have to decide on whether to speak out. We have to remind people that these are hardworking folks. Again, great post. Thanks, BTG

    Like

    • Thanks. Food Stamps are a helping hand that only lasts for a portion of the month. That is why donations to the local Food Bank are so important. I agree there are too many people living paycheck to paycheck.

      To add on to your point above: poverty also knows no religion. It also isn’t a matter of God favoring one person over another. Too often I have sat through a sermon where a preacher claimed that when they tithed 90% of their preaching income and had faith; all of their financial and some relationship prayers were answered within 30-90 days. Of course they didn’t mention how much money they actually made being a preacher, or what they made outside of their preaching income, or how much their spouse made. They didn’t seem to appreciate anyone asking them for proof; as their word was supposed to be good enough.

      Recently the rhetoric about what political party can lay claim to Christianity has gotten worse. I saw a Letter to The Editor where the author, who claimed to be a Christian, genuinely questioned how a member of the other party could possibly be considered a Christian. That it just didn’t seem possible to them and that the other religion had to be practicing a false religion. Why? Because their friends in the other political party didn’t agree with them about everything; so, there was no way they could be a real Christian. That language, just like the email “joke”, only serves to demonize the other person. It also amplifies the “us vs. them” rhetoric. Once you can justify the thought that “well they aren’t really a Christian/human so they aren’t really worthy, deserving, or chosen”, then it makes it easier to justify all sorts of things. It is all disturbing.

      There are other hot button issues where the same “you’re either 100% with us or you’re against us” rhetoric shows up. It gets to be tiresome.

      Like

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