In Wisconsin, approximately 15,000 residents have been kicked off of food stamps because they didn’t bother to look for work. According to requirements that went into effect this spring, residents on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program had to meet one of two standards if they wanted to keep getting government benefits: work 80 hours a month or be in the process of actively searching for employment. Note that these requirements only apply to those beneficiaries who are able-bodied and have no children.
And yet, for 15,000 residents, that burden was too much to handle. They chose to go without food rather than to even look for work. Apparently, this is something Wisconsin Republicans are supposed to feel bad about.
Sherrie Tussler of the Hunger Task Force warned that these requirements would cause all kinds of problems. “The Department of Health Services must understand that a substantial increase in the need for emergency food caused by a loss of food buying power (FoodShare) will result in wide scale shortages in Milwaukee,” Tussler wrote to state officials.
Let’s pause to appreciate some of the bizarre language these people use. The “loss of food buying power”? If the program is working as intended, these 15,000 residents voluntarily gave up their food buying power. No one is stopping them from looking for work. What kind of worthless individuals are incapable of working 80 hours a month? No, not even that. Not even capable of filling out applications!
We’re not talking about people who are disabled. We’re talking about people who simply refuse to do anything with their lives. And guess what? That’s absolutely fine, too. This is America. You don’t have to work if you don’t want to. You don’t have to contribute to society. You don’t have to do a damn thing.
But nowhere in the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, or in the annals of human history does it say that a man deserves to eat even if he refuses to work.
This isn’t about being heartless. If there was some unlimited fund, then it would be another matter. Who cares whether or not people work? Go do what you want. But there isn’t any such fund. This money doesn’t just spring up from the ground. It comes from men and women who have chosen to put forth the effort and the labor to pay for their own lives. And most of those men and women – even the ones who are as conservative as you can get – have no problem with a certain portion of their taxes going to help the poor.
But there are limits. We don’t want to see children go hungry. We don’t want to see people suffer because they have fallen on hard times. We certainly don’t want to see people starving because their health – mental or physical – prevents them from earning a living. But if the only thing standing between you and gainful employment is laziness…or entitlement…well, there’s just not much sympathy to be had.