What A Weird Argument – Don’t Tighten SNAP or Food Stamp Work Requirements

It’s entirely possible to make sensible and logical arguments either way about food stamps. Or, more formally, SNAP. OK, so the poor don’t have any right to demand from others and so no welfare. That might not be a nice argument, might not even be a good one, but it is logical. Equally, the rich can and should pay so that the children of the poor don’t go hungry. That’s logical however much we do or don’t agree with it.

But imagine how confusing life must be if your profession is to investigate food stamps and the like yet you’re incapable of constructing a logical argument about them. Which is what we’ve got here. All most confusing:

Proponents of increasing the work requirements for food stamp recipients say they want to avoid supporting a dependent “lifestyle” by ensuring government assistance is temporary and that “able-bodied” recipients are working. “Long-term dependency has never been part of the American dream,’’ Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said last year. “USDA’s goal is to move individuals and families from SNAP back to the workforce as the best long-term solution to poverty.”

OK, maybe, maybe not. But what’s the argument against such a tightening?

The assumption is that once a recipient gets a job, food stamps won’t be necessary any more. But that assumption is flawed.

That’s pure idiocy, isn’t it? If we make a rule that you’ve got to be working to get Snap that means that we don’t think you need Snap if you’re working?

Eh?

For five years, we followed more than 100 low-income families in and around Raleigh, N.C., to study how they fed themselves and their families, including how they used food stamps. What we found is that families on the program are mostly working, as the government intends. In most SNAP households with a working-age adult, at least one person is employed, and work rates have been rising for the last three decades. And many recipients who aren’t working have caretaking responsibilities or health conditions.

Great, so tightening the work requirements makes no damn difference, does it? Because all those households containing someone who can work already contain someone who does work. No, really, that everyone already meets the new tougher standards really isn’t an argument against having the new tougher standards.

But for many of the families we studied, getting a job did not mean they could feed their families. Even people who worked full time received such low wages that food stamps often made the difference between having something to eat and going hungry.

Sure. But note, again, what the work requirements are. They’re not “You’re in work, no help for you!” they’re the opposite “You’ll get help if you are working”.

SNAP is as essential now as it was when it was established. Our research suggests that the current proposals to tighten work requirements are mean-spirited, counterproductive and mostly symbolic, sending a message about the importance of work that most recipients don’t need.

Well, actually, what you’ve said above is that tightening won’t make any damn difference to the recipients as they all already work. So, why not tighten?

Seriously, if you’re against the new rules you’d think that you could come up with an actual argument to be against the new rules. You know, one rather better than “It’ll make no difference therefore don’t”?

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Also note that the claim that “most” are working. Perhaps we should insist that “all” do so. Why should able bodied adults get somebody else’s money if they won’t even work?