The Needed Balance Between Compassion and Self-Sufficiency
But I never applied for or received federal subsidies when I did. That doesn’t mean that it is wrong to do so; it was simply my choice.
I guess you can blame my German stubbornness or my Scottish thriftiness. In either case, it just didn’t feel right.
Simply put, I was raised in a day and age when you were taught to fend for yourself. If there wasn’t enough to go around, you simply did without.
In a pinch, your extended family or the church stepped in. If you didn’t belong to either, there were other social service organizations ready to lend a hand.
One appealed to the federal government only as a last resort.
Which brings me to the SNAP Challenge.
SNAP stands for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, otherwise known as food stamps. Currently, 47 million Americans are enrolled in this federal program.
In an effort to call attention to the plight of those citizens on food stamps, some well-meaning organizations have sponsored the SNAP Challenge. Participants are asked to feed themselves on $4 per day in order to better understand and empathize with food stamp recipients.
Try to buy a burger and fries on that amount, let alone a nutritious meal.
However, I feel the need to point out a singular – but glaring – flaw in the SNAP Challenge. It involves the first word in the program: supplemental.
Food stamps are meant to supplement a person’s dietary needs, not to be the sole provider of them.
In the same way, Social Security benefits are meant to help seniors make ends meet. They were never intended to be the lone source of income for someone 62 or older.
With America facing a burgeoning debt crisis and at risk of defaulting on our loan payments, it seems to me that we need to find a happy medium between compassion and self-sufficiency. After all, the largest drain on our federal budget is entitlement programs.
There is nothing wrong with a federal safety net of sorts, especially for those who have paid into the system for years. But to remain solvent as a nation, we will need to raise the next generation of Americans to be more independent than this one.