Saturday, June 30, 2012

Poor People =/= Animals

So this darling gem has been making the rounds on Facebook:

[Image description: clipping out of a newspaper that reads: "submitted by Billy Fleming.  The Food Stamp Program, administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is proud to be distributing the greatest amount of free meals and food stamps ever.  Meanwhile, the National Park Service, administered by the U.S. Department of the Interior, ask us to "Please Do Not Fee the Animals."  Their stated reason for the policy is because animals will grow dependent on handouts and will not learn to take care of themselves.  This ends today's lesson." /image description]
I'm going to set aside the fact that the second person who posted this asinine tripe on my feed used to be on food stamps.  Yes, you read that correctly.

I'm also going to set aside the fact that ALL humans are technically animals, because the comparison in this case seeks not to measure how similar all animals are regardless of evolutionary status, but to equate sentient human beings with wild animals incapable of caring for themselves.

So I'd like to make this very clear:



Every human on this planet has at one point been dependent on someone or something else to provide their food for them.  Whether it was the government, a parent, a guardian, or any other variety of providers, human beings do not come into this world capable of providing for themselves. (Ask any newborn...oh wait.)

As humans progress through childhood and adolescence, they develop the abilities necessary to care for themselves.  In late adolescence into adulthood (earlier for some people), humans begin to enter the workforce in an attempt to provide from themselves without the help of the government, parent, guardian, or other provider.

And this is where the disconnect occurs.

Many people (mostly conservatives) believe that having a job means you shouldn't need or be eligible for food stamps.  But with increasing inflation and stagnating wages, dollars don't stretch as far as they used to.  If you make the federal minimum wage ($7.25/hr) and work full time with no sick days or vacation, you will make just over $15,000 in one year

How would you fare in your area on that kind of wage?  The brains over at MIT have made a handy calculator that you should check out.  For my area, making minimum wage is considered below the living wage marker, although not quite at the poverty line.  And living wage only takes into account the BAREST of necessities.  Food, shelter, clothing, transportation.  What about a phone or internet access so you can find a job that pays better?  What about medicine or doctor bills?

So the next time you consider berating someone for being "on the dole," consider this.  They could have been struck by this disastrous economy.  They could be working a minimum wage job and contributing their tax dollars to the very programs they are drawing from.  But, and this is the most important part, POOR PEOPLE ARE NOT WILD ANIMALS.  Providing poor people with assistance when needed will help them become contributing members of society.  And, really, isn't that what EVERYONE wants?