When President Johnson began the “War on Poverty,” the idea was to help people get out of poverty and become working members of society. President Johnson wanted to make sure that in a land as rich as America, people did not go hungry or homeless. It was (and is) a laudable goal. It becomes a more difficult goal when it encounters the specter of human nature.
The Washington Free Beacon is reporting today on one of the programs that was set up to make sure no Americans would go hungry.
The article reports:
The number of individuals receiving benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, otherwise known as food stamps, has exceeded 45 million for 56 straight months, according to data released by the Department of Agriculture.
…The USDA has been tracking data on participation in the program since 1969, when average participation stood at 2,878,000. Since then, participation in the program has increased by more than 1,470 percent.
The number of food stamp recipients first exceeded 45 million in May 2011. Since then, the number has consistently exceeded 45 million, hitting a record high of nearly 47.8 million in December 2012.
Changes to food stamp policies made it easier for people to apply for benefits, made food stamps available to more people and the benefits became more generous, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
“Economic factors alone do not fully explain the growth in SNAP participation,” states the agency. “Changes in SNAP policies, some of them associated with the 2002 and 2008 Farm Acts, have made benefits easier to apply for, available to more people, and more generous.”
There is a lesson here. The SNAP program was started with the best of intentions, but what it did was take charity out of the hands of the local church and the local community. The local church and the local community were in a position to know who actually needed help and who was taking advantage of the system. I have heard many stories from people who remember a time when their spouse was out of work and they found a bag of groceries on their front steps to get them through. Charity needs to return to a time when it was the result of personal caring. The obvious question here is how much of the SNAP money goes to food. We have all heard stories of people selling their SNAP coupons or EBT cards and spending the money on alcohol or drugs. We are not doing anyone a favor by supporting a destructive habit.
In April 2015 I reported the following:
A Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) spokesman tells the Associated Press that 12,000 non-disabled adults were in Maine’s SNAP program before Jan. 1 – a number that dropped to 2,680 by the end of March.
More than 9,000 Maine residents have been removed from the state’s food stamp program since Republican Gov. Paul LePage‘s administration began enforcing work and volunteer requirements.
I can’t image the impact it would have on the federal budget if all states followed the example of making people work a few hours a month in order to receive food stamps. The problem is that federal money makes people dependent, and dependency determines how people vote. Politicians who want to stay in office will work to make sure that the freebies keep on coming. Politicians who love America will begin to move to cut spending.