We All Know I LOVE Pot-stirring...

Updated on May 15, 2011
D.P. asks from Beverly Hills, CA
24 answers

So, I ask another question.
When the govt is the "caretaker", and we all want some 'say' over how this money is used: what kind of car a recipient drives, the value of their domicile, that they are substance-free...where does it end?

Can junk food be bought with food stamps? Or only "raw" or "unprocessed" foods? What about a can of soda? A candy bar?
What type of clothing is acceptable? A Coach purse? A pair of Levi's? Or should there be special "approved" amounts that are allowed for clothing. Say....$10 per shirt?
Should you have to drive a car with a value of under $2000?
Should you be made to PROVE, with receipts, that your "aid" is being used to pay rent, the electric bill, and other essential bills only?
Should people be allowed to buy alcohol or cigarettes with their welfare check? What about a lottery ticket?

I think it's one thing to scream "REFORM!" and quite another to follow the thought process a little further.

I think my issue with people adopting more 'rules" for public aid is just where does it stop?
What do you think?

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answers from Richmond on

I personally think that if food stamps had a 'list' of verified options and you could only use the $ for THOSE ITEMS, it would TREMENDOUSLY cut down on the bullsh!tters signing up for food stamps and government financial aid to spend the funds on other things. Not saying everyone does; but then again, who WOULDN'T vote for a rule like this if they're not doing anything wrong to begin with? ;) Weed out the leeches!!

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Anchorage on

There should be rules for public aid, it is not their money to waste. I think we need a time limit, like 2 years total for life, and that job training should be mandatory to receive aid, as well as some kind of community service so they are actually earning the pay. And they should have to be able to prove that the children's needs are coming first and are fully being met.

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answers from Charlotte on


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answers from Redding on

Your question was, "where does it end?" It ends when people do the right thing, stop being selfish and start caring about others more than themselves. Most problems in the world are caused by people being selfish, from wanting to do drugs, to wanting to have sex to wanting stuff other people have. They steal, they cheat, they overindulge without thinking about other people. So we end up with drug addicts, and unwanted babies, and young people suffereing because their parents cant make ends meet. And we have record number divorces and crime because people are selfish and dont care about others enough to give up what they want.
I "want" to feel high, so I use drugs.Then they end up addicted.
I "want" to have sex so who cares how young or if they say no.Im gonna get it anyway.Then we have rapes and unwanted pregnancy.
I "want" that car so I will take it.
I "want" that other person so I will cheat on my spouse.
I "want" more money so I will cheat on my taxes.
I want I want I want.

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answers from Jacksonville on

The bottom is :whether you are the govt,an individual or an individual on some sort of assistance, you have to learn how to manage money/benefits. Obviously, the goverment doesn't do sucha hot job, that's why we are in the boat were in. Take away some of those Lifetime pensions,healthcare etc. from legislators (what other job can you work 2-4 yrs and be taken care of the rest of your life? duh,...) Why doesn't our government go after some of the countries we lent $ money to after wars, (Japan,is an example,to rebuild ) that was never paid back, and there are others. Why do people who have never paid anything into Social Security and Medicare pay nothing for these benefits, whether they are retired or disabled, disabling the systems for the people who have paid in all their working lives? Why are legislators allowed to vote themselves pay raises ? Who evaluates the job they do ? Public Opinion ? I wish they didn't get paid, it sure would weed out those who aren't in it for public service, and most Legislators have other sources of income anyway. Why are Legislators allowed expense accounts at the taxpayers expense? The list goes on and on,........

As for your questions, WIC IS ONLY FOR APPROVED FOODS,(milk, cheese ,cereal, fruit,fruit juices,etc) foods stamps(EBA Benefits in FL) -you can pretty much buy what you want with the exception of alcohol, tobacco, paper products ,etc. There is also a cash benefits program. Yes there should be limits on certain things, the amount of time you may be on assistance, (there are families that receivet benefits from O. generation to the next, it's all they know, or all they are willing to learn) provide money management classes that are mandatory to help assist them in becoming self sufficient. Make fathers responsibile for the children they aren't taking care of, so many things could be different. And I'm not bashing anyone for receiving help, I've been in those shoes, even if it was temporary, which, truthfully is all it should be. It shouldn't become a way of life for someone except under certain situations ,that should be monitored.(and whose gonna pay for and do it?)Government doesn't give anyone an incentive to improve their situation or become self supporting. Being able to prove bills etc would make some sense, but, will it happen, highly unlikely. Why ,that would make the government responsible and I don't think govt is that responsible, anyone, govt included, that would be willing to pay $ 50-$1000
for a toilet seat, or a box of screws, ....is an idiot, and shame on private industry for even thinking about charging that much . It hurts all of us.
The problems list is as big as the National Debt and we shouldn't stand for it anymore.
Well ,not that I accomplished much here, I could go on and on, I

C. S.

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answers from Washington DC on

oooh Denise.....you do sooo love stirring the pot!!!

If a person is receiving public funds to help them survive....this is MY take...

1. Drug and alcohol tests are MANDATORY in order to receive your check...not saying all welfare recipients are bad - but there are enough bad apples out there to make it bad for everyone.

2. I've NEVER been on welfare - but chips and such are allowed - at least what I've seen in those who are ahead of me purchasing on food stamps/welfare.

3. If the person receiving the "entitlement" has enough money to drive a Lexus or BMW - they should be made to sell it and get something more affordable - it drives me insane that people who live in our "Section 8" housing can afford Escalades and such - but live happily off my dime...

4. Welfare recipients should NOT be purchasing Coach, Gucci, etc. while on Welfare....that's just obscene.

5. Welfare recipients should have to prove the need and random checks down on the dwelling - if people can afford certain things (i.e. Coach, Lexus, etc) while on Welfare, then baby - it is wrong...

I believe that people on welfare/food stamps should only get 3 years - yes, that is a LONG time of "entitlement" - after that? NO WAY. During the time of "entitlement receipt" the recipient shall (WILL) obtain education in an open field so that they can get gainfully employed and become a functioning member of society....once a job is obtained, the welfare does not stop immediately, I know that things don't magically work once a job is obtained - the welfare should GRADUALLY stop over 3 months to allow the person to get used to a "real" EARNED paycheck....

I also believe that those that receive the help should either pay it back over time or do community service to work off the debt. NOTHING IS FREE...No handouts, education, etc....soooooooooo bottom line? Use the KISS method - Keep It Simple Silly - and straight forward....

When you want the government to take care of you - expect the Government to micro-manage you...they should be allowed as it's THEIR money you are messing with....it's a HAND OUT...and HELPING hand NOT A PERMANENT WAY OF LIFE!!

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answers from Joplin on

Sadly what it comes down to is the whole system of how bills get passed needs to be redone...we get a good law and then before it can be passed all these nifty little add ons get thrown on for good measure then it is bickered over and not passed...people in general need to grow up and learn how to get along...but I do not see it happening anywhere in the near future.

I do see many flaws in the way public aid is now, but the sad fact is there will always be someone who can figure out a way to screw the system so to speak...for every O. good person who is doing the right thing and just trying to make an honest living there are at least 2 who are abusing it...I just think that you can not take away from the O. good person who is doing their best in order to punish the two who are taking advantage.

I have had assistance at different points in my life...it is nothing I am proud of, but if I was put in the same circumstances again I can assure you I would be happy that it was there. I am still in a situation where I cannot afford medical insurance for myself...but my children are covered now, and yet if we have O. medical emergency we could easily be bankrupted over night. The system is broken...no O. denies that, but what it takes is for people to stop being selfish, stop pointing fingers and start advocating for the changes you want to see. I am all for "pot stirring" it is how things get started...but rather than post here on Mamapedia...how about contacting your local congressmen or congresswoman and voicing concerns and asking what can be done to help push for change? The who is us...all of us...we have the voice and we need to make our voices heard.

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answers from Dallas on

If you borrowed money from a friend to get yourself out of a financial bind and instead you went and bought a Coach purse, do you think that friend would be ticked? Absolutely!
The hard truth is once you accept government funds you no longer have a choice. That is why I am SO against the government take over of our healthcare. That is WHY they want to implement government run healthcare. Some think they actually CARE about our health. Not true. The more we depend on the government, the fewer freedoms we have. They can dictate what you eat, how you live, what meds you can have, what tests you deserve and on and on and on. Why is that so hard for some to get? You give up your freedom to choose when you live off the government. Who decides what you deserve? Hmmm! Why do you think the government work force has grown so much?

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answers from Seattle on

There are already limitations.

First, I wish to point out a general misconception. In order to qualify for aid, a person does need to meet certain requirements which are different, depending on what kind of aid a person is applying for (and what state they live in). For example in Washington, in order to receive cash benefits, a family of three must not have "resources" more than O. thousand dollars and they mustn't have an income. When O. of the family members begins working, only half of their income is counted against their grant, but their grant is reduced. A family of three, with no income, may be able to receive $549. They are required to attend job training and to show up and actively participate in a program: Worksource or outpatient rehab (when addiction is involved), for at least 35 hrs a week.

The grant is issued on a card and acts in similar way as a debit card. A person can pull out money at an ATM (which allows them to pay for items/bills with cash, as many stores do not except "EBT" (the card) payments. Theoretically, a person could take out cash and buy cigarettes, drugs or a prostitute. OR a person could get their child new shoes or pay the electric bill.

Foodstamp requirements are more lenient than cash. Still, a person's "resources" and income must be under a poverty level (determined by state, old statistics, etc.). And no, a person cannot buy alcohol, drugs or tobacco products (although they could trade their food for cash/drugs which does happen sometimes). Different STORES decide what constitutes as food. For example, at our local Co-op, a person can buy vegetable seeds/starts on foodstamps. At Safeway, that is not true.

Medical benefits (for CHILDREN and pregnant women) are more easily obtained. As in, in a two child/two parent household, their income mustn't exceed approx. 2000 dollars (depending on "resources" and expenses). Not exactly easy street.

The idea that being in poverty is fun/easy, really bothers me. Wondering if the power is going to get shut off or deciding in between gas or broccoli, is not actually an enjoyable process. Raising children in poverty, is tricky and often stressful.

I believe poverty is largely generational. OF COURSE there are exceptions. We've all met people who are comfortable or wealthy who grew up dirt poor in an area that is also in poverty (lack of eduction, nutrition, job security/opportunity, etc.). But, usually, if we're born poor, we die poor (or close to). Modern day "Capitalism" is not the same system as Adam Smith described and promoted. While it's possible to be poor, obtain skills, dedication and drive and climb the ladder out of financial destitution, it's not probable. Class, is not just about income, but eduction (formal and otherwise).

Poverty is not usually a result of being lazy or stupid. It is systemic, generational and reinforced by our classist society and corporate hold.

The middle class is disappearing and income disparity is increasing.

I wish I had answers, but right now I am just beginning to see a set of problems. Hopefully, with a lot of study, I will also see some solutions.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

I , too, do not have the answers you seek. But I am glad that my Momma was a responsible recipient of the benefits when I was a child.

She was divorced (in the 1970's...only trained to be a housewife from her 1955 high school graduation)..had 4 kids ages 3, 4, 12 and 15. Was on crutches from 2 barbaric (back then they all were) knee surgeries. We were on Welfare until I was a little older and Mom could go to nightschool (her dime and the gov't too) to make a better life for all of us. She was off the benefits as soon as she could

We bought clothes at Kmart, thrift stores and garage sales. My brother and I went to catholic school on grants grades 1-7, with hand me down uniforms form the neighbors..I never ever had a brand new O.. If we had soda, it was a rare and special occasion...orange and rootbeer perhaps for floats once a month. Thats it. We were an Iced Tea family. We almost never ate out..lots of cheap meals made with burger...meats on sale...we grew veggies in a small garden, etc. Many times we went without Milk for part of every single month..or were forced to drink the nasty powdered stuff (which is probably why I NEVER drink milk as an adult...???). We got Toys for Tots presents a few years....Mom made anything else we got (nighties and PJ's, shirts and clothes, doll stuff, all sorts of things...she did this till the day she died 3 years ago and now I cherish everything she ever made for me!)

My point is, we used welfare for what it was there for...a crutch, not a lifestyle. No O. had to tell her how to use it...she knew. Why are people not like that (in general) these days?

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I completely agree with you Denise. I don't really have a GOOD suggestion to fix it- and I would challenge anybody who DID, because there are flaws in every 'solution' I've heard of. However, we need the system, however flawed it may be. People are just way too judgmental. Some people actually need assistance and do use it responsibly.

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answers from Sacramento on

It's my understanding that welfare involves 2 basic ideas: housing and food. So, for housing (Section 8, I believe it's called), the housing itself has to be approved, and the check goes directly to the Landlord. For food, they issue some kind of debit card, but only certain items are on the "approved food" list. (You can see in many grocery stores now, that certain items are labeled "WIC approved.") I stood in line the other day when a woman in front of me paid with 2 different cards - the first O. appeared to be for her "approved" items, and they were indeed whole food type items - milk, cheese, rice, bread, vegetables, fruit, etc, as well as toilet paper and the like. The second transaction covered everything else (snack foods). I did not observe any items that I wouldn't have bought myself, and her children appeared well cared for and healthy.

Bottom line, this is a social safety net. If my husband and I both were to be laid off at the same time, we do have some savings, but we're locked into a lease that we couldn't easily get out of, and couldn't afford for too long on our savings alone. It could happen to us, and it could happen to anyone. Unemployment where we live is over 10%, so jobs aren't exactly a dime a dozen. Will there always be examples of people who seem to have a lot, or seem to be making poor choices, while on government assistance? Sure. But I would rather see that than to know that there are children starving in our own country, because we choose to be judgmental. The demonization of our fellow moms is astonishing to me. The VAST majority of welfare recipients don't want to be on assistance, it's just the position they find themselves in. (Yes, it's true - look it up.) Why are we all in such a tizzy over this when in reality, this is a TINY portion of the country's budget?! Focus on the things we REALLY spend big money on, and that desperately need reform - Social Security, Medicare, and Defense. Those are the 800-pound gorillas in the room that nobody wants to talk about, but if we want to have meaningful reform, are we going to talk about something that is less than 1% of our budget (welfare), or something that takes up 50% of our budget (social security, medicare, defense)? It's like deciding that you want to save money on groceries, so you decide to obsess over the price of mayonnaise, rather than obsessing over the price of meat and milk. I mean, really.

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answers from Dallas on

what about coporations that get bailed out? Should they be allowed to have extravagant parties, go on "training" seminars in exoctic locales? Should they be allowed to give 6 firgure bonuses? Oil companies that are making record profits, recieving government sunsidies, and paying zero taxes - should there be some limits there? What about elected officials? they live completely off taxpayer money. They get a salary, and top notch healthcare. Should there be controls put in place limiting extravagant waste of taxpayer money, such as the many homes they have? The trips they get to write off? It's easy to blame the welfare mom that gets $150 a month as a drain on society, but people are mssing the big picture.

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answers from New York on

I'm pretty right wing which means small government. I understand that controlling how people spend money expands government's powers which is contrary to what I in general promote. However, the contradiction is because under extreme right wing government, there would not be any social aid to begin with. So in my opinion, if we're going to give aid, we get to put as many limits on it as people paying the bills want. If someone doesn't want those limits imposed on them, then don't take government assistance. I don't want the government deciding what I or other taxpayers eat or what kind of car we drive but that's different - I'm not taking government aid, I'm paying taxes.

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answers from Jacksonville on

I know what you are saying. And I agree, that there has to be a limit to the limits that can be put on the aid. BUT, that said... I think that to some degree (it certainly isn't foolproof -- ha ha pun intended), drug testing sort of affects all those other "choices". Someone using illegal drugs is LESS LIKELY to not squander the aid on poor choices than someone NOT under the influence of illegal drugs. (More likely TO squander-- sorry for any confusion).
Again, not (by a long shot) perfect, but it would sort of immediately eliminate the folks who we KNOW are making poor choices on how to spend the money. Wouldn't it? That same logic, I think, is why people are ok with saying "no" to aiding those who drug test positive in the first place. Their kids are not likely benefiting much from the aid that is being given (the point of the aid in the first place is usually the kids)-- the aid is being sold for cash to buy illegal drugs. There are whole markets for selling govt aid benefits in exchange for cash.
And yes, I think that if a drug test came up positive, there should be some sort of follow up available for rehab/treatment options. Not just cut them off and that's it.
ETA: I will! I will!
Drug testing: positive results without a legit prescription results in 30 day probationary period during which the positive testing recipient must report daily for treatment.
Debit cards can NOT be used to purchase alcohol or tobacco products or carbonated beverages (any/all soda).
That's it.
For now. No, it's not perfect, but it's a start. right? Why is that so hard? No O. is saying that someone on aid can't purchase those items, but they can't use the AID MONEY to do it.

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answers from San Diego on

In California they just stopped the use of welfare cards being used at Casinos. I mean Seriously?? Also look at a lot of the people in welfare, yes they drive better cars than me. I think that there should be house visits. If you get aid, then yes I do think they should prove what the money is being used for. I think that would stop a lot of fraud, and hold people accountable. Yes there should be drug testing. I think if you want help then this is what scrutiny you should be under. If you are not trying to fraud the government then you wouldn't have a problem with it, right?

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answers from New York on

Yes, you do.

If there was a quick and simple solution that didn't cost trillions of dollars, I'm sure it would have been implemented by now. I do think that there needs to be a level of accountability placed on those receiving government assistance and that there should be "caps" and "limits" on how much they can receive. As many have pointed out today, the kids suffer when there is no money, but at the same time... if the kids were the priority in the first place there may have been some different choices made.

So, to answer your question regarding where does it stop? For me, it "stops" where the line between "assistance" and "enabling" is drawn. Down on your luck? Laid off? Really trying to get a job? Long-term illness? Fine. I am happy to have my taxes assist you and hope that if I were to ever need that assistance it would be there. Having unprotected sex? Not really looking for a job? Elect to stay home with your child instead of working (yes, I remember that response to your other welfare question)- No way. I will not enable those people to continue making poor choices at my expense.

If the government can figure out a way to make those determinations and still be "fair", then I would happily vote to re-elect those individuals!

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answers from Erie on

This doesn't answer your question, but I believe that we need to create a culture of "giving" rather than O. of "taking". I hear those who defend aid recipients, and I sympathize with those facing tough situations. Our family is O. that is currently "comfortable" in our financial situation. While I know that some people believe that it is because our parents were "comfortable", I believe that it is because they taught us hard work, education and budgeting. We don't drive the newest cars (and they don't have GPS or DVD players in them), wear the trendiest clothes, or have a fancy house. We make tough choices about saving for college and retirement, buying health and disability insurance, and giving to charities who make a difference. I clip coupons, dress my little ones in hand-me-downs, and wait for things to go on sale. I try my best not to judge, but I admit that it upset me to see the woman in the fur coat and rings on every finger paying with her assistance card. Then I decided to back up - do I want her life or am I happy with mine? Am I raising my children to feel entitled or to work their tails off for what they want? Am I ranting about something that's completely beyond my control?

Getting back to my point about giving, I think that our society would be far better off if every 18-22 year old were required to perform a year of mandatory "service". The method of serving would depend on the individual's skills and interests, but it could be teaching in an inner city school, working in a shelter for battered women, or defending our nation in O. of the armed forces. I realize that it would be a real uphill battle to legislate this, but it would only work if EVERYONE participated - rich or poor, majority or minority, educated or not, there are hundreds of ways to serve the citizens of our nation. This would reduce some of the burden our children will inherit, and it may just make a dent in the entitlement attitude that seems be taking hold :)

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answers from St. Louis on

I do think we BADLY need a reform of some sort. I have thought about how complicated it would be to redo this, but on the other side it has been done once from scratch so I'm sure with a great committee of people ranging from upper to lower class that a GREAT new system could be put in place that would benefit all of us. It would more than likely take years to complete this too.

And yes, you can buy soda, chips, candy etc with this money. A lady at Wal-Mart the night before easter purchased $159 of CANDY with her government issued debit card. :( I so badly wanted to say something.

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answers from Chicago on

I often wonder if we could treat welfare like we treat a flexible spending account (FSA). With the FSA, you are supposed to only use it for medically-approved/authorized expenditures. Some companies offer the FSA 'debit' card while others have you pay out of pocket and then reimburse you. I wonder how different welfare and aid would be if the recipient would have to log their expenses and prove them with receipts before they are approved for their next month of assistance? Of course, however, there would be so many ways around this like scammers do now. They trade their food stamps for cash with someone who actually wants approved items/groceries and then take the cash they were traded and go buy alcohol or drugs.

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answers from Boston on

With foods stamps I don't think you should be allowed to buy whatever you want if you read the snap website foodstamp amount is determined with the thought that the recipients should contribute a portion of their income to food.

As for cash benefits I don't care what they do with it although I think it's wrong that people use it for alcohol or cigarettes they can go to the ATM and take the cash out and buy so there isn't really anyway to prove that the cash taken out of the ATM was used for. And as far as clothing you can go to a salvation army, goodwill, etc and buy any type of clothing used. My coach purse was $15 at good will and my banana republic jeans were $2 at salvation army. I think people are just too judgmental. I'm sure I get looks when I take my wic folder out of my coach purse but I don't care.

I don't think it can be that reformed. People can work and get cash benefits so how do you prove they spent the money from their job on the cigarettes and not the welfare money? Not allow cash withdrawals? But then how do you pay your bills if you can't take the money out of the ATM? It's not like these cards have a visa logo so you can pay bills online.

Edited: what about seniors cheryl? My 80 something year old grandma should have to return to work after she's been on food stamps for 3 years?



answers from Austin on

I just read an article today where the government will stop bailing out/providing assistance homeowners whose mortgage is over $700,000. This funding of course is provided by taxpayers. My first thought was how many families could buy a decent house in a decent neighborhood with $700,000! And now I'm just irritated.


answers from Bloomington on

I just try not to think about it! There are people abusing just about every system that exists. I am not personally on any assistance, so I have no idea what can be bought or even what it takes to qualify for it. I guess I really don't care.



answers from Gainesville on

Just like you can't control your children the government can't control what is purchased with a welfare check. the checks get cashed, the $ gets spent. I think there should be some sort of checks and balances to make sure people who are receiving funds really are needful of them but there is always gonna be people who break the rules or milk the system no matter what you do!

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