Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Pleading Poverty While Living High on the Hog

I know that this post could be highly controversial but these are my own thoughts and views on the subject and I hope that even if people don't agree with me that they can be kind and respectful. ;)

I have been a volunteer for years and years now with a food distribution program to help people in need.  I also work in the school system, am a former librarian, and also hear and read things in the news as well as interact with people daily.  One of the things that irks me to no end is when people plead poverty and get others to help them financially while they themselves are unwilling to make sacrifices to cut back on their expenses and continue to go on vacations, have their kids in private lessons, go out to eat on a regular basis and continue to live the life of someone who is financially able to do those things.

I do understand that almost everyone is going to hit hard times at some point in their lives (present company included) and need help.  The people that find themselves in this situation and do everything that they can to cut back on their expenses and still can't make the ends meet are the people that we should all be helping.  It is the other people who go and file bankruptcy and then go right back to their former spending habits again and again and then file bankruptcy a second time or more that anger me. It is the parents who are in pool or bowling leagues but can't afford to buy new shoes for their children due to lack of finances that make my blood boil. It is people who claim they can't afford Christmas presents for their children but just bought a new purebred puppy that I just want to shake.  It is people who go out to eat all the time but claim they can't afford groceries that just make me ill.  It is the people who expect everyone to bail them out without giving any thought to how much those sacrifices of others who are bailing them out may be hurting those doing the bailing out that just disgust me.

Want some real life examples?
~the woman in the news recently who won the lottery, bought 2 house and a new car and was still collecting food stamps and felt she was entitled to those food stamps because "she still had expenses"
~a family that gets food stamps, free medical, heating assistant, etc. and just bought a snowmobile to go play with
~a single mom who felt it was "God's will" that she stay home with her children and that the state, church, her family and friends should financially support and take care of her
~families on welfare that buy expensive new electronics like computers, ipads, top of the line new cell phones, 3D television sets for themselves and their children for Christmas
~people on food stamps buying expensive cuts of meat, frozen pancakes, soda, chips, expensive coffee, imported cheeses, etc. and then still show up at the food distributions complaining about how they can't make their $500 in food stamps cover their grocery bill for the month for a family of 4 ( I did it for $350 for a family of 5 plus extra teens eating at our home almost every day and that included all cleaning products, toiletries, etc.)
~people who sign their kids up for the Marines Toys for Tots program along with other programs to provide gifts for their kids and then the parents take a trip to Vegas or somewhere else

Meanwhile, we have families and the elderly struggling to make ends meet and doing everything they can to cut back.  They are having to make the choice between food or medications or taking their child to the doctor.  We have the working poor who work long hours, sometimes at multiple jobs, and still don't make enough money to cover just the basic necessities in life.  We have people who became ill or disabled and can't work through no fault of their own.  We also have people who have lost their jobs and are trying to find new ones but there are too many applicants for just the one job so many walk away again with nothing, even the fast food places get more applicants than they have jobs available in some areas.  These are the people that we should be helping.

I believe that if you apply for government assistance that you should also be required to take classes in budgeting, how to buy and prepare healthy food, basic home and car repair.  These are skills that would greatly help people save more money and be able to stretch that assistance further and get off it sooner. I also believe that some sort of volunteer work should be required for those that are physically able to do it in order to get some of these services. Helping others has been shown to increase a person's self esteem and helps them make connections they may need to get a good job. Things I personally have done... I have helped get a booklet of healthy recipes together for commonly used low cost and healthy food products that were distributed though the food programs that I volunteer with.  I have taught classes on how to save money though the county extension service.  I have taught students at a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center how to make a budget and find the best deals.  I want to help people acquire the skills they need to help themselves.  I believe in trying to help those who really want the help and are willing to do the work needed.  I believe in giving people a helping hand to raise them up, not to keep them dependant on a failing system.  I want a better future for everyone that is currently struggling or will find themselves in that situation at some point.  Is that so wrong?


  1. Oh Debbie, I hear you. I also feel that there should be a limited time that they are on food stamps, free food, etc. I have watched upclose a family that has it all, they double up families in the same house, have cel phones the kids and parents get into trouble, don't go to school. They have grown up through the years and still live at home, and have never worked either. The whole household drinks and smokes and have pizza's delivered all the time. Big screen tv's and latest video games. They live in state subsidized housing. They destroy the carpeting, break the washer's and dryers, break out the windows and trash the house and yard. Don't pay their garbage bill, so no pickup. They just start throughing all the bags out the windows. Only to have someone come replace their appliances, fix things and clean up their garbage and yard for them. Generation after generation just goes onto welfare and does not work. Yet I see others who can't make ends meet but work two jobs, and get any help.

    1. It is sad isn't it. The pleading poverty mentality is being passed down generation to generation and those around these families suffer the most.

  2. I whole heartedly agree. . . I've been down the poverty road (you all know my story of using dish towels for diapers and bread wrappers for plastic pants on my oldest). We got food stamps for months - just long enough to heal from surgery then the baby's birth, and get back to work.
    However, many in true poverty conditions, may not have access to kitchens - so I try not to judge to harshly on the convenience foods. (and we save our food stamps for a steak dinner for our anniversary, I'm sure people thought we should not be able to buy steak with food stamps, but we'd eaten beans and rice for weeks to save enough to get it).

    1. Denise, I do not begrudge families getting special treats (like steak) now and then on food stamps, we did it also when we were on food stamps once I made sure that we had all the necessities met first and it was a rare occasion that we did that. I am talking about the constant abuse of the system. You sacrificed and did everything you could, just as many others did and do. I have always been so impressed with they way you have and still do sacrifice for your family and community and stretch what you have and are always willing to share with those in need. (((((HUGS))))


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