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Joe Fletcher

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Why are or why aren't food stamps considered in investment?

Why is it that proponents and opponents of different parts of the welfare state appeal to different arguments for the respective welfare policies?
I am interested in hearing perspectives on the economic and moral arguments for and against aspects of the welfare state, and the reasons why rhetoric appears to one or the other.
For example: The proponent arguments for food stamps tend to appeal toward moral arguments, while the opponent arguments are economic.

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    • Apr 9 2013: It's different in each state but generally they come on a card like a credit card with a monthly allotment that can only be spent on food.
    • mary T

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      Apr 10 2013: People whose incomes were low enough could buy stamps, which were like a book of coupons. They would go to the grocery store, and use the stamps in place of money. Stamps had a value (for food) that were higher than the amount paid for them. If you were poor and thus eligible for welfare benefits (cash assistance), you would stretch your money by using some of that cash for food stamps. If you were in a grocery checkout line and someone used food stamps, everyone knew they were poor, and knew they probably received welfare benefits. It was a shameful thing. The food stamp program is run by the Dept. of Agriculture (a federal agency), and originally was seen as a way to get surplus farm products to the poor. The welfare (cash assistance) programs were run by the Human Services departments of the various states. Now, they don't use coupons. It looks like a credit card and is replenished every month. It's not so obvious at the grocery store, so it's less shameful. The types of food you can buy are limited. For example, you can't buy prepared foods. So, you can buy a raw chicken but not a roasted chicken. They can't buy cigarettes or liquor, etc. They have to be poor. They may receive welfare benefits (very small cash assistance) or federal welfare (supplemental social security benefits, about $732 monthly), they might receive energy assistance (for their power bills), they get medical assistance (limited health care), and they might live in public or subsidized housing. Some people always imagine the welfare families as living off the fat of the land. In reality, they almost always have an impediment that keeps them from working, like a disability. Children get a lot of the benefits. I know many people who receive benefits and I wouldn't want to trade places with any of them. It's a depressing, dead end way to live. The system needs improvement and so forth, but it's for poor chidlren, and their poor uneducated parents. Very yucky way to live.

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