Thursday, July 10, 2014

It could be me. It could be you.

No doubt most of my readers have never been so poor that they had to sign up for public, safety net benefits.  You know, like SNAP (Food Stamps) for example. 

In addition, those of us who are fortunate beyond imagination sometimes form opinions about people much less fortunate than we.  Some of our opinions are misguided. 

I suppose this discussion falls under the category "You have to be here to really understand." 

How would you feel if you knew that today you would be going to the food stamp office to apply for relief to feed your family?  How would you handle the knowing stares of the people around you? 

How would I feel when I checked out that first time at the local grocery store using my SNAP benefit card?  What would the cashier and other customers think of me? 

What impact would the constant berating of programs like SNAP in media have on me and my children? 

Take a moment and read the compelling story of a young mother's first experiences with just these dilemmas, feelings and impressions.



Anonymous said...

The couple made a number of mistakes to find themselves in this position.
First, they had a number of major life events in a short amount of time---getting married, expecting twins and buying a quarter million dollar house.

They should have done this.

1) Save like crazy to have a six month "rainy day fund."

2) do not buy something as expensive as a house in the first year of marriage. Build up your savings.

3) Do not do anything big until the twins arrive and you see they are well and healthy.

These ideas came from Dave Ramsey.

Anonymous said...

avoid drugs
stay out of the legal system
Don't start a family before you are married.

These three things will go a long way to not be caught up in poverty.

Anonymous said...

That sounds like good advice. But it doesn't get to what I think is the point of the article. Now that the mistakes have been mode, there are people who need help. Are the only people we will help those who have made no mistakes (I.e. The non-existent perfect among us)?

dwight ford said...

Anonymous folks:

Indeed, that would be ideal. But, alas, life happened to this couple while they were busy making other plans...

So, what to do?

It is unrealistic to ask young people who fall in love to avoid marriage. We are hard-wired to attach ourselves to a mate in our teens and 20s, and then to have children soon after. These are biological drives that are affirmed by our culture.

Yes, they should have been outliers. But like the vast majority, they were not.

And yes, they should not have purchased a home. They should have deferred the American Dream.

But that is not what they did. Again, driven by the natural instincts of newlyweds/young parents putting down roots (and influenced by a culture that promotes consumerism and ennobles the purchase of a home), they made a decision that was hard to sustain.

And they fell behind. And then the story turned out the way it did.

Should they be condemned to deeper poverty and disgrace because of it?

Is it better to say "I told you so" than to say "what if that were my daughter"?

It could be me. It could be you.