I came across the following photo of a receipt found in a grocery store parking lot recently:
The photo was posted on Facebook and shared by a woman with whom I went to college. I commented (innocently enough, I THOUGHT) that that amount is equivalent to roughly 100 meals' worth of ground beef from Sam's for Bob and me, which is true. A female who I do NOT know seemed to find it horrendous that we were judging the owner of this receipt based on their purchases--after all, it's not OUR food stamp money--and made the following comment, I assume based on mine before: "Are we at the point where we are critizing what people buy with their food stamps? None of my business.but at least their kids aren't starving."
I take issue with this for a couple of reasons. First of all, I can't help but think Mountain Dew, lobster, and porterhouse steak were NOT meant for children. Additionally, there is no evidence at all that a) there are children or b) any possible children are being fed appropriately. This is not WIC, it's food stamps. They are not the same; food stamps allow you to buy whatever crappy, or exorbitantly expensive, food you want to buy, which is a separate issue entirely. I responded to the girl with similar thoughts, and if you're afraid this might be one-sided, first of all it's my blog, and secondly, my exact words were this:
"That stuff doesn't look like it's for kids. Food stamps are supposed to be for people who can't afford to buy basic nutrition, of which lobster, steak, and Mountain Dew are not a part. A modest splurge occasionally is one thing--this is nowhere near modest."
Now if you have a lot of money, or at least enough to keep you off of a welfare program, it is quite your business what you spend it on. You have worked hard and earned that money; you were paid to do a job. You have the right to use YOUR money any way you would like, and if you would rather live on Ramen every other day of your life so that you could have lobster once a week, that's your right. If you receive public assistance, though, it is my opinion that you should use that assistance responsibly. Having said that, it is still your right to take advantage of the money that has been taken from me so that you can buy food that I can't afford on my salary, even though you make less than I do. If I had food stamps and SOMEHOW found I had an excess, I would splurge by buying organic produce, grass-fed beef and free-range eggs (also currently can't afford), but again, that's a choice. This is less about food choices and more about the response I got on Facebook.
Anyway, after my rebuttal to her comment about "critizing," she responded in a clearly sarcastic tone, "Yeah. I'm sure we would have been happy if they bought lunchables and cereal. Ridiculous."
Again, I see NO evidence of children on that receipt. I never mentioned once that I assumed the person was choosing indulgence for him/herself over feeding children. Also, I'd just like to say that Lunchables and breakfast cereal WOULD be, in my OPINION, a more responsible way to spend your food stamps, especially if there were children involved (although there are still healthier choices that could be made.) In fact, I highly doubt the dude who found this receipt would have bothered to take a photo if Frosted Flakes and Lunchables had featured as prominently as lobster.
I'm really angry about this, and I'd love nothing more than to take this chick outside and tell her, calmly and respectfully but quite firmly, my exact views on this topic. However, it has been my experience that arguing with people you don't know rarely works out very well, and I have yet to see anyone concede that perhaps he or she was wrong. So instead of defending myself and my reputation to someone who seems ridiculously intolerant of me to be so tolerant of paying for someone else's porterhouse steak, I figured I'd blog about it and most likely find a more reasonable audience who can have frank and honest, but still respectful, discussions about important and controversial topics.