Carol: Food stamps make America stronger?
In a country as rich and as generous as America, there is a praiseworthy general social consensus that no one should live below a certain standard — and that it is our collective responsibility to ensure that everyone has enough to get by.
But in the controversy that’s erupted over the last 24 hours about Mitt Romney’s leaked remarks on the 47% and President Obama’s stated support for “redistribution,” a growing social phenomenon has been largely overlooked: The “normalization” of seeking government aid. A recent radio ad from the USDA — encouraging Americans to sign up for food stamps! — makes the point:
MALE ANNCR: (clears throat) The following message is from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Did you know millions of Americans with low-income can get help buying food? Introducing SNAP. It helps you eat right when money’s tight…
MOM: Wait. Excuse me! Did you say SNAP?
MALE ANNCR: (taken out of his rhythm) Yes. SNAP is the new name for the federal Food Stamp Program. Lots of people with low income qualify for SNAP but don’t know it. If you qualify, you’ll get a card you can use to buy all sorts of food, including fruits and vegetables. It works like a bank card when you check out.
MOM: (joking) A card? Like one you swipe and goes (makes sound effect) beep?
MALE ANNCR: (laughs) Yes, that’s right. (Resumes announcer tone) SNAP offers help to all kinds of people…
MOM: So, wait… can I be eligible if I have a job?
MALE ANNCR: Yes, you can, if your income is low…
MOM: But I have a car.
MALE ANNCR: No problem, you may still qualify
MOM: But, I own my own house, so can I still qualify?
MALE ANNCR: (laughs) Yes, you might.
MALE ANNCR: Ahem. To learn more about SNAP, call 1-800…
MOM: Hold on. Let me get a pen.
MALE ANNCR: Ok. (understanding laugh) Call 1-800-221-5689. That’s 1-800-221-5689. SNAP. Putting healthy food within reach.
MOM: Hey, thanks!
MALE ANNCR: You’re welcome.
See? No problem here! Get your food stamps from your friendly federal government!
What no one seems to be talking about is what happens when too many of us start relying on the government for too much — because, after all, everyone else does it and no one seems to think there’s anything wrong with it. . . . When do we reach a tipping point, after which we are not really free people, and have become something more akin to wards of the state? And who, exactly, is supposed to subsidize all the “entitled” Americans?
As Ronald Reagan once said, a government that’s big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take everything you have. It’s worth thinking it over.