The Culture of Dependency, Food Stamps, and Wal-Mart

Much was said during the last election campaign about the "culture of dependency," usually from Republicans. According to Mitt Romney, 47% of Americans are part of this culture, and it is very "unhealthy" for our society and our economy. 

More recently, during the rush to the so-called "fiscal cliff," corporatist politicians and interests have been loudly proclaiming the need to cut spending on entitlements such as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and Food Stamps in order to reach some Grand Bargain to balance the federal budget. These calls go hand in hand with the cries to get rid of this culture of dependency on taxpayer dollars that encourages people to be lazy and refrain from exercising their natural initiative, creativity, and entrepeneurial spirit. 

For example, there is a movement afoot to cut the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program(SNAP), more commonly known as food stamps. By $16.5 billion in the proposed farm bill put forward by John Boehner's House of Representatives. Anne Goodman, the CEO of the Cleveland Food Bank, said in a Cleveland Plain Dealer editorial Saturday:

"The $16.5 billion in cuts to SNAP proposed in the current House version of the farm bill would cause more than 2 million individuals to lose benefits entirely and nearly 300,000 children to lose free school meals because their enrollment is tied to their family's SNAP participation. It would also reduce benefits by $90 per month for about 500,000 households. And it would make the lines at local hunger centers longer than any charity could possibly bear."

I don't think it takes too much of a leap of faith to say that she knows what she's talking about. But wait! We've got that culture of dependency to fight! As Congresscritter Jim Jordan(R-OH) says:

"...you don't need 47 million Americans depending on someone else for their food. When you just step back and look at it from a cultural, societal standpoint, when one in seven Americans is dependent on someone else providing their food for them, that is just not healthy for our culture."

(Emphasis mine. Source: 12/2/12 Cleveland Plain Dealer. For full article, go here: http://www.cleveland.com/politics/index.ssf/2012/12/food_stamp_cuts_look...)

See? There's that horrible culture of dependency again. We have to take food money away from the working poor for their own good! 

Now, let's apply the same argument to another group of people who are trapped in a culture of dependency on taxpayer dollars: those, like the Walton family and Hillary Clinton(former member of the Wal-Mart Board of Directors), who profit from Wal-Mart. 

Wal-Mart's modus operandi for establishing new stores and keeping their costs down is well-known. They come to town, promise hundreds of jobs, and demand property, income, and sales tax exemptions for years in exchange. The local government jumps through their hoops, and in addition to going so far as allowing Wal-Mart to collect and keep local sales taxes for a few years, pays for all of the infrastructure--roads, water, electricity, sewers, etc,--in order for Wal-Mart to set up shop. 

Wal-Mart delivers on its promise of hundreds of low-wage, non-union jobs. But who pays for those? 

Not Wal-Mart. Oh, no. The federal taxpayers do. See, there's this really neat thing called the Work Opportunity Tax Credit(WOTC) signed into law by that great Democrat, Bill Clinton, in 1996 as a part of his vaunted Welfare Reform. Under the WOTC, Wal-Mart can hire people who were on Temporary Assistance to Needy Families(TANF) and get up to a $9000 tax credit for $10,000 of wages, or they can hire someone who was receiving SNAP or food stamp benefits and get up to a $6000 tax credit. For veterans, they can get even more. Don't believe me? Here's the employers' flyer from the United States Department of Labor:

http://www.doleta.gov/business/incentives/opptax/PDF/employers_wotc_prog...

Of course, the tax credit eventually runs out, and then Wal-Mart either makes life so miserable for the employee that they quit and thus allow Wal-Mart to hire another welfare recipient, or they just fire them at will because, hey, Wal-Mart doesn't deal with no stinking Commie unions. And then they hire another one. 

Why do you think the job applications ask if the applicant is now or was a recipient of TANF or SNAP? 

And then, Wal-Mart pays them so damned little that they usually STILL qualify for the taxpayer-funded program. Everybody wins! 

Except the workers, but who cares about them? We've got to wean them off of the culture of dependency in order to get a healthier society. And if you ask the same questions about a Wal-Mart or McDonald's or Burger King or Target or <insert your retail corporation of choice here>, well, you just hate success because you must be one of those lazy, envious, mooching losers, too. 

Remember, as President Obama said in 2009 about the investment bankers such as Jamie Dimon:

I, like most of the American people, don't begrudge people success or wealth. That is part of the free market system. 

Well, I DO begrudge people success or wealth when they acquire it by the methods utilized by the likes of the investment bankers on Wall Street and the profiteers of Bentonville, Arkansas. They suck a helluva a lot more money off the taxpayers(Wall Street bailout, anyone, anyone?) than all of the legitimate recipients of all public entitlement programs combined, much less all of the TANF, SNAP, Section 8, and Medicare and Medicaid cheaters combined. If I really wanted to get nasty, I could start talking about defense contractors, but that subject is virtually inexhaustible. 

So I'll just close instead. Want to eliminate the culture of dependency? Try starting at the top of the socioecomic pyramid, not the bottom. There's a whole helluva a lot more savings there. Not to mention justice. But that's another story. 

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Great article.

Glinda's picture

I heard Thom Hartmann say today that for decades, journalists have been trying to find out the identity of the "welfare queen" that Reagan talked about, and FINALLY, that "welfare queen" has been identified.  

Drum roll:  The Welfare Queen is Wal-Mart.

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You coined it. That's perfect.

Glinda's picture

WELFARE-MART

WELFARE-MART

WELFARE-MART

WELFARE-MART

WELFARE-MART

WELFARE-MART

WELFARE-MART

WELFARE-MART

WELFARE-MART

You hit the nail on the head, my friend.

Twitter hashtag #Welfare-Mart

 

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