Rise in Food Stamp Reliance Calls Government Benefits into Question

Why should a working father of two pay for someone else's five kids to eat?

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By Bonnie Erbe, Thomas Jefferson Street blog

Everyone expects people to rely more heavily on subsidies in a downturn and this recession is no different. But what is different, according to the New York Times, is that so many people are now relying on food stamps; the zing of stigma is evaporating.

That's a bad thing, especially for some categories of Americans.

It's one thing for people never-before out of work to lose a job in tough times and rely on food stamps to feed themselves, a spouse and a child or two. It's quite another for people who have large numbers of children on low incomes to rely on other Americans, almost equally pressed in a downturn, to pay to feed those children. That's what's happening to some families in this economy. It calls for a renewed look at how we view responsibility, taxes and benefits.

The Times profiles a family of seven headed by a father who works as an electrician and who loses his job. They are now on food stamps to maintain the children's basic nutrition. On the surface, this is a very sad story. But it becomes sadder still if we recognize that another electrician somewhere else who is still working and only had two children, is now going to be paying more in taxes to subsidize the other guy's five children.

It's time for a national conversation on this issue and a new approach to government benefits. Do I truly believe that will happen? Not in my lifetime.

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