Despite Our Saviour Gwyneth Paltrow, politicians are still being jerks to poor people

Ok, let’s get this over with before moving on to more important things.

Gwyneth Paltrow went food shopping with $29 and pretending to be poor for a week. You might have heard about it. 

She only made it through 4 days and then went back to biz as usual but predictably, as with other celebs & politicians who pretend to eat poor, she was applauded for raising hunger awareness and showing people how to eat with $29/week. Because we poor people had no idea before.

The disregard for poor people’s voices is what I’d rather address more than how ridiculous Gwyneth’s SNAP challenge was.

People who are actually on SNAP tried to tell what it’s like to live on SNAP and were told to sit down and shut up. We were told to stop picking on Gwyneth. Be grateful that someone is trying to speak up for us. Those telling poor people to appreciate the celeb’s efforts claimed to be “advocates for the poor”. Allies. Yes, allies!

Dear Allies –
If your ally-ship involves silencing the voices of marginalized people in order to boost those of privileged people who lack the firsthand knowledge and experience, than your ally-ship is crap.

Love,
All the marginalized people

People who are living in poverty are constantly explaining the challenges they face daily. Please listen to them. If you have the opportunity, share their experiences with others. Amplify their voices in a way that does not exploit them but empowers them.

Thank you. The end.

Meanwhile, in Kansas this week, the strangest welfare reform bill was passed. The bill was designed to prevent TANF recipients from spending government assistance money on things that poor people on welfare love according to popular stigmas instead of research, like tattoos, beer,cigarettes,lottery tickets, and fortune tellers. No taking cruises,either.Or going to the movies and swimming at public pools.

The average TANF benefit in Kansas is $114 per person. Besides the obvious question of what sort of cruise one can take for that money, most are wondering how to get around the logistics the state has put in place to try to enforce the new rules. TANF recipients can now only withdraw $25 at a time using their EBT cards. So, I guess landlords and utility companies will have to be patient and learn to accept $25 at a time? That sounds like an added frustration and stress poor people don’t need. Also,the fee for each transaction at an ATM is 85¢ after the 1st one and if using the cashback option at a register, whatever fees the store applies. A typical family of 3 would have to make a dozen trips to the ATM and then not even get their full amount thanks to bank fees.

In Indiana, Rep Terry Goodin (D- Austin) is proposing a drug testing for welfare bill. Via Indy Feminists, “He admits it’s an urban myth and that only 9 adults without kids are using TANF in Scott County, but he still wants to use 2 million in tax dollars for this discredited plan.”

This drug testing bill is slightly different from others in that the basis is to prevent the spread of HIV through IV drug use and based on flawed ethics. Still, it’s operating on the mythical  premise that those on TANF hold the key to pinpointing where HIV drug use is happening.  And they will spend $2 million to find out that’s not actually the case.

Also, Missouri is the latest state to introduce a bill to restrict what SNAP can be used for. No seafood (which might even include tuna & fish sticks) ,steak,cookies, and whatever else poor people aren’t entitled to eat.

That concludes all the new policies happening in the States this month. I think we’ll continue to see “welfare reform”  and SNAP restrictions on the state levels. We could have a whole passel of celebs do SNAP challenges and it isn’t going to affect policies.  I think anti-poverty advocates who have concentrated their efforts on keeping safety net programs available need to extend the effort out wider. We need to be working on multiple fronts here to help low income families. Better wages for working families and  benefits for disabled and elderly people would make a world of difference. Demand living wages, reduce need for safety net programs. Ta-da.

Food Stamp News: SNAP Cuts Explained & Michigan’s new drug testing policy

SNAP

A few weeks ago, you might have picked up on my annoyance at having to debunk rumors regarding food stamp policy changes and sensationalized articles about food assistance cuts. From now on, I will regularly write here about new policy changes and upcoming cuts that will affect those on assistance. I’ll try to make it as simplified as possible while giving a complete rundown of the correct information.

FIRST… let’s talk about cuts to SNAP but let me start with touching on the passage of The Farm Bill last year.

The SNAP program budget is part of the Farm Bill. The Farm Bill is typically renewed every five years. In 2014, it took awhile to renew , in part because of disagreement over the SNAP budget. Republicans wanted drastic cuts. In the end, $8.6 billion was cut. Those cuts span the next decade, not all at once. With passage of the 2014 Farm Bill, the SNAP budget is in place until the next time Farm Bill is renewed. This means Congress will not be making MORE cuts to SNAP until that time.

I say all of this because on my own social media, I am constantly seeing people talking about Congress trying to make more cuts to food stamps. The other day,for example, an article from February of 2014 talking about Republicans proposing $39 billion more cuts to SNAP made the rounds. My request to all Liberals who use social media (especially managing Facebook pages) to please,please,please check the dates on articles, as well as fact check the information. You might not understand this but it causes a lot of panic among people who rely on assistance. Don’t make people worry more than they have to. Also don’t use the topic of food insecurity as the only means you have to demonize Republicans. I’m sure there are plenty of other current events that will illustrate this as effectively.

The good news about the major cuts in 2014 is that only 15 states will likely be affected , thanks to the “heat and eat” loophole.

This brings me to current headlines:

♦ One Million Will Lose Food Stamps
In 2016, some states will revert to the 1996 Welfare Reform Act that puts limits on how long an unemployed person without dependent children can receive food stamps, usually only three months. Some states already have this policy in place.

The other part of this is that some states that qualified for waivers because unemployment rates were high in some areas without enough jobs to match the employment needs are now seeing an upswing in the economy and will lose those waivers, meaning less people will qualify for enrollment.

Michigan’s New Drug Testing Policy

Even though other states who have tried instating a drug testing policy for all recipients of assistance have proven it to be a giant waste of money and time (as well as unconstitutional), Michigan has launched a pilot program in 3 counties that will test people “under suspicion”. Michigan actually tried this legislation before in 1999 and it was ruled unconstitutional.
I am anti-drug testing all the way around but this legislation has me particularly peeved. Suspicion based? What qualifies someone as being suspect? I can’t help but predict racial stigmas will come into play heavily here.

Right now, this policy is NOT for SNAP recipients as has been widely stated. Only recipients of TANF (cash benefits) in The Family Independence Program will be subjected to testing.

Who gets food stamps?

via  newwavefeminism: bootyscientist: i promise to….

America’s hatred of welfare date back to politicians using a manufactured image of the black “welfare queen” to create collective hatred and harness that racist energy to get votes for office. 

Unfortunately, people still ignorantly believe the stigmas surrounding Black (women/mothers,especially) and think there’s generations of Black families who rely on food stamps and other assistance.  This isn’t exactly true,either.  Many studies have shown that children raised in poverty are more at risk of being impoverished in adulthood but it isn’t influenced by receiving welfare benefits. Actually, increasing the resources and lifting people out of poverty improves the odds for children raised in the family. Researcher Peter Gottschalk and his colleagues have noted: “Because families receiving welfare are poor – indeed, poverty is a condition of welfare receipt – we would expect children from welfare families to have higher rates of poverty and welfare use as adults than children from nonpoor, nonwelfare families. Intergenerational correlation, therefore, does not necessarily indicate a causal relationship. . . .For example, if both mother and daughter grow up in neighborhoods with poor-quality school, both will be more likely to have lower earnings and, hence, a greater need for income assistance. . . . Changing the quality of the school her daughter attends. . . .will raise her income and, in turn, lower the probability that she receives public assistance.” (I would add that taking away her meager welfare income and health benefits will probably not bode well for her children’s education, health, employment future or general well-being.)

Edited to add:
The most recent stats look like this:
43% of SNAP participants are white, 33% are African-American, 19% are Hispanic, 2% are Asian, and 2% are Native American. The other percentage is probably unknown or smartasses like me who sometimes put “Human” as the race. Some people who are mixed race use Other because they prefer not to identify w/ one single race.

Welfare is a Women’s Issue (1972) by Johnnie Tillmon

via OUR TIME

Welfare is a Women’s Issue (1972) by Johnnie Tillmon

I’m a woman. I’m a black woman. I’m a poor woman. I’m a fat woman. I’m a middle-aged woman. And I’m on welfare.

In this country, if you’re any one of those things you count less as a human being. If you’re all those things, you don’t count at all. Except as a statistic.

I am 45 years old. I have raised six children. There are millions of statistics like me. Some on welfare. Some not. And some, really poor, who don’t even know they’re entitled to welfare. Not all of them are black. Not at all. In fact, the majority-about two-thirds-of all the poor families in the country are white.

Welfare’s like a traffic accident. It can happen to anybody, but especially it happens to women.

And that’s why welfare is a women’s issue. For a lot of middle-class women in this country, Women’s Liberation is a matter of concern. For women on welfare it’s a matter of survival.

Survival. That’s why we had to go on welfare. And that’s why we can’t get off welfare now. Not us women. Not until we do something about liberating poor women in this country.

Because up until now we’ve been raised to expect to work, all our lives, for nothing. Because we are the worst educated, the least-skilled, and the lowest-paid people there are. Because we have to be almost totally responsible for our children. Because we are regarded by everybody as dependents. That’s why we are on welfare. And that’s why we stay on it.

Welfare is the most prejudiced institution in this country, even more than marriage, which it tries to imitate. Let me explain that a little.

Ninety-nine percent of welfare families are headed by women. There is no man around. In half the states there can’t be men around because A.F.D.C. (Aid to Families With Dependent Children) says if there is an “able-bodied” man around, then you can’t be on welfare. If the kids are going to eat, and the man can’t get a job, then he’s got to go.

Welfare is like a super-sexist marriage. You trade in a man for the man. But you can’t divorce him if he treats you bad. He can divorce you, of course, cut you off anytime he wants. But in that case, he keeps the kids, not you.The man runs everything. In ordinary marriage, sex is supposed to be for your husband. On A.F.D.C., you’re not supposed to have any sex at all. You give up control of your own body. It’s a condition of aid. You may even have to agree to get your tubes tied so you can never have more children just to avoid being cut off welfare.

The man, the welfare system, controls your money. He tells you what to buy, what not to buy, where to buy it, and how much things cost. If things-rent, for instance-really cost more than he says they do, it’s just too bad for you. He’s always right.

That’s why Governor [Ronald] Reagan can get away with slandering welfare recipients, calling them “lazy parasites,” “pigs at the trough,” and such. We’ve been trained to believe that the only reason people are on welfare is because there’s something wrong with their character. If people have “motivation,” if people only want to work, they can, and they will be able to support themselves and their kids in decency.

The truth is a job doesn’t necessarily mean an adequate income. There are some ten million jobs that now pay less than the minimum wage, and if you’re a woman, you’ve got the best chance of getting one. Why would a 45-year-old woman work all day in a laundry ironing shirts at 90-some cents an hour? Because she knows there’s some place lower she could be. She could be on welfare. Society needs women on welfare as “examples” to let every woman, factory workers and housewife workers alike, know what will happen if she lets up, if she’s laid off, if she tries to go it alone without a man. So these ladies stay on their feet or on their knees all their lives instead of asking why they’re only getting 90-some cents an hour, instead of daring to fight and complain.

Maybe we poor welfare women will really liberate women in this country. We’ve already started on our own welfare plan. Along with other welfare recipients, we have organized so we can have some voice. Our group is called the National Welfare Rights Organization (N.W.R.O.). We put together our own welfare plan, called Guaranteed Adequate Income (G.A.I.), which would eliminate sexism from welfare. There would be no “categories”-men, women, children, single, married, kids, no kids-just poor people who need aid. You’d get paid according to need and family size only and that would be upped as the cost of living goes up.

As far as I’m concerned, the ladies of N.W.R.O. are the front-line troops of women’s freedom. Both because we have so few illusions and because our issues are so important to all women-the right to a living wage for women’s work, the right to life itself.

source

“Takes two to make three but one ain’t here…”

 

via freedomfromwant

Text:  When the job ended…and he left…she stayed     and used her small welfare check to make sure her kids grew up safe, healthy, and strong.  Who exactly are you calling a welfare queen? 

This is a story way more common than the myth. Except maybe the safe & healthy isn’t always the outcome.

Post title from this song:

 

“Fuck the Poor” – Paul Ryan

 

 

No, not an actual quote from Paul. At least not publicly.
This video is a social experiment conducted by The Pillion Trust Charity.
I was way ahead of the punchline. I see this every single day.

“We knew you cared. Please care enough to give.https://www.justgiving.com/piliontrust/

Not that everyone CAN give but hey, pennies add up and nearly everyone has spare change.

Speaking of pennies…
timestridesforbowties:

glowcloud:

seraphknights:

cultureshift:

This is the Memorial to the Missing and contains over 50,000,000 pennies to represent the lives of each American child abandoned to abortion by a society and a culture that has embraced their destruction. We must prevent the need to add to this memorial. Take a stand. Get involved.
 ”How we treat the least of us defines us.”

"should I use this $500k to help struggling parents and pregnant people or should I put it in a glass box"

can somebody break this and give it to some real live kids who are actually starving right now

oh yes, let’s make a memorial to remember the lives that never had conscious thought
let’s make a memorial using real money to represent lives that made absolutely no impact on the earth whatsoever 
let’s just waste all this money in a useless box and start shoving prolife down people’s throats
instead of actually taking a chance to listen to
the teenagers that made a mistake
the people who were violated, and had heavier consequences than the scars in their mind
the people that didnt know better
the people that couldnt afford it
the people that didnt want it
the people that chose not suffer their lives and the child’s life 
lets build a giant reminder to why humans are not allowed to make their own choices based on biological factors they cannot control
lets also just waste a fuck ton of money for no reason. 

This is a glass house a anti-choice organization filled with $500k , all in pennies. It’s a memorial to aborted fetuses. Huh. I don’t think you can really call yourself pro-life (hence, my term anti-choice) if you hoard pennies as symbolism instead of using that $500K to help struggling families who have children living on this planet.

People are strange.

Ok, now back to Paul Ryan. I keep hoping he’ll just go away. Instead, he proposes budgets that cut everything that ever helped a low income America living in poverty, and to get out of poverty. If made into law, it would  cut $5.1 trillion from safety net and social welfare programs, like  Medicaid, Medicare, food stamps, college grants, medical research….

He does so out of love,you guys! This is how the poor will be elevated out of poverty. Don’t worry about the lack of logic behind it. Trust him. It’s all for your own good.

Yeah, I think he really needs to go away now.

Embedded image permalink

 

(I know,I know…I was supposed to clean up my language for this blog. Allow me one cursing post per week. That’s all I need)

Do people using food stamps have to get info from the Internet instead of case workers?

It’s only 9 days into the brand new year and I have questions.
My end of 2013 blog stats told me that What Can and Can’t Be Bought With Food Stamps was the most viewed of the past year. I think I only a lot of those views to Upworthy (thank you so much for your support, Brandon) but it’s more than that.

Take a look at this new year’s search terms that have brought people to Poor as Folk.
Fullscreen capture 192014 84157 AM

I’m betting the searches for alcohol came from people trying to debunk that myth (I say this because people have told me in the past that’s why they shared that link) but the other searches…. do these people not have caseworkers and a support system at their DSS to answer these questions?

I have limited personal experiences with caseworkers. I lived in a neighboring county for awhile and being on food stamps was awful in that county. Caseworkers seemed to kinda like it when they made you cry and it was nearly impossible to get real assistance or answers. In the county we live in now, the caseworkers are awesome. They return all your calls in a short time and if you pop in to the office ,someone will generally be able to take time to see you.Also, in this county they have budgeting,cooking ,and meal planning workshops. I used to teach these,so I haven’t felt like I have a real reason to attend them …except for maybe the purposes for blogging material. (us writers are weird like that)

So, I’m wondering …how common is my former experience?
If you’re receiving assistance ( SNAP or TANF) or have in the past, what was your experience with case workers? Were you giving all the information you needed or did you feel like you had a lot of unanswered questions.

Because I realize not everyone wants to comment publicly on something like this, I’ve included a comment for that will go straight to my email. Public comments can still be left by scrolling to the bottom. It would be great if you could also include the state you live in.

Also, I’m long overdue for a commenting policy here but just a reminder: when I ask for welfare/food stamp recipient’s experiences, that’s who I am asking. It’s not an invitation for someone to explain all the reasons they don’t think people should get food stamps or why the program is bad or any other derailing commentary.