Fox news, is an amazing program channel with an obvious agenda all its own. Their recent special “The Great Food Stamp Binge” was all about how the U.S. Government’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, was turning our once great nation into a happy band of greedy and lazy freeloaders living on the public (Fox news watchers) dole.
What they did was profile a 29 year old jobless California man who drove a nice car, surfed all day, hung out with his surfing friends and received $200/month from the SNAP program which he spent, as far as I could tell from the newscast, on a seemingly unlimited supply of lobster and sushi.
What Fox news didn’t tell anyone was that In reality this man bears no resemblance to the overwhelming majority of SNAP recipients, many of whom are elderly, children, or who rely on the program for a short time while looking for work. Instead Fox News portrayed the California Surfer dude as the new face of food stamps in America just as President Reagan had once touted his fictional, high living, New York “Welfare Queen” as the face or Welfare in America over 30 years ago.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service, the fraud and waste rate in SNAP is roughly 1 percent, contrary to Fox News claims that the program is rife with fraud…and if one simply goes to the SNAP website you’ll see this:
- Its gross monthly income — that is, its income before any of the program’s deductions are applied — generally must be at or below 130 percent of the poverty line. For a family of three, the poverty line in federal fiscal year 2013 is $1,591 a month. Thus, 130 percent of the poverty line for a three-person family is $2,069 a month, or $24,828 a year. The poverty level is higher for bigger families and lower for smaller families.
- Its net income, or income after deductions are applied, must be at or below the poverty line.
- Its assets must fall below certain limits: households without an elderly or disabled member must have assets of $2,000 or less, and households with an elderly or disabled member must have assets of $3,250 or less.
That’s not much to have and if you further read the amount of assistance that one is given if one meets the guidelines you’ll find that that’s not all that much either. $200 is not going to buy you a lot of lobster and sushi and even if you try to turn those food stamps into cash well… anyone with a serious drinking, smoking, drugging or eating habit knows that $200 probably wouldn’t get you through your first addictive week.
In fact, 41 percent of food stamp recipients live “in a household with earnings,” and use SNAP benefits to supplement their primary source of income. 76% of SNAP households included a child, an elderly person, or a disabled person. These vulnerable households receive 83% of all SNAP benefits. And the USDA reports that most food stamp recipients stay in the program for only a short period of time and that single parent families and elderly individuals tended to stay in the program longer than did working poor individuals, childless adults without disabilities, and noncitizens. Seventy-four percent of new participants leave the program within two years.
So Fox news’ attempt to demonize food stamp recipients was just plain wrong and mean and incorrect and unlike their lazy, flippant, surfer dude the majority of those who receive SNAP benefits are on the program not because they are lazy but because they are hungry.
And sadly they are mostly hungry children and senior citizens…not surfer dudes…who live in a nation of great wealth and surplus…perhaps the greatest wealth and surplus that the world as ever seen…
So why demonize these unfortunate individuals? What is to be gained except more wealth and surplus for the wealthy and surplus worthy?
It has been said that, “Give a hungry man a fish and he will eat for one day. Teach that man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime”. In the world of Fox News and their ilk, Give a hungry person a fish and he will just quit his job, lay on the beach and make communist sushi on the public dole…better to just tell that hungry person to…