Poor People Aren’t People

I’m a little late to this party, but I was following the news of Kansas’ proposed House Bill 2258, which pretty much bans folks on public assistance from visiting “swimming pools, see movies, go gambling or get tattoos on the state’s dime”, and from withdrawing more than $25 at any ATM.

If you’re nodding your head at these restrictions, read on.  While fucking yourself.

I’ve already mocked the idea that people on public assistance aren’t supposed to act like ‘normal people’ with needs and wants and shit before, but this bill – and the fact that it passed – makes me ill. And confused.

And then I made the horrible mistake of reading the comments, and the ignorance of the people who have no fucking idea how public assistance even works made my ill and confused turn into anger.

Full disclosure for anyone who didn’t read that second link: I am on public assistance.  I receive $180 a month for SNAP and $200 a month for Cash Assistance.  That’s $380 a month for a single woman with no children. I’m exactly rolling in the dough, and neither are families with children.

The myth that folks on welfare are just lazy bums living it up on the taxpayer’s precious dime is ludicrous and always has been.  People keep repeating these myths over and over again, or even worse, repeating the same shit people have been saying since the 80s-90s that prompted that bullshit Welfare to Work law Bill Clinton signed way the fuck back when.

Firstly, I really wish people would update their info.  I can’t discuss shit with people who repeat the “welfare folks buying steaks and lobster and cheating the system” myth. It’s like trying to work on someone’s computer today and finding out they’re still using Windows 3.1. It’s ridiculous and more work than it’s really worth.

Secondly, the shitty lie that lead to this bill doesn’t even make sense.  In Kansas, the maximum benefit a household with one adult and two children is $518 a month. Some of that goes into a card (usually the same card as your SNAP benefits) and can be withdrawn into cash.  How exactly are they going to enforce this if, for example, I use $20 from my Cash Assistance to pay for pads, toothpaste, deodorant, and two Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups if even the cashier can’t tell the different where the cash came from?

Thirdly, and this is important, unemployment is still at a pretty shitty rate and will never be 0%. So that leaves people who have been unemployed for long periods of time or sporadically employed up shit creek once their 36 months lifetime limit is up (Thanks, Bill).  What are they supposed to do then, starve? Be homeless?

The only reason bills like this are popular, and most people won’t admit it, is that we’re not seen as people if we aren’t able to work for any reason. It’s that Protestant work ethic “if you don’t work, you don’t eat” bullshit, where people will merrily allow those less fortunate to be even less fortunate, so they can feel better about themselves.  They’re good people.  They contribute to society.  THOSE people are leeches, sucking the rest of us good working people dry.

These are the same people who slap bumper stickers on their cars that say “Work harder, thousands of people on welfare are depending on you!”.  Because that thousand, none of them are human.

These are the same people who are on the lookout for anyone committing the crime of whipping out a SNAP card while looking remotely nice or possessing something that looks nice or buying something they “shouldn’t” be buying. How dare THOSE people have nice things on my dime?

We poor folk, to these people, don’t deserve happiness, and our children deserve even less.  I’ve read a comment that complained about someone using their SNAP card on a birthday cake.  We’re not even good enough to buy a premade cake.  We’re not good enough to buy sodas or candy.  We’re not good enough to get manicures, or buy cheap ass makeup, or maybe splurge a little and go to a fucking movies once in a while.  Unless we’re magically conjure up a job or better circumstances where we can get a job, we are worthless and unhuman to these people.

And that’s while bills like this make me sick.  That’s why attempts to fish out druggies that are on welfare (that have failed over and over again, and waste taxpayer’s precious monies, but you won’t hear them complain about it) make me sick. People gleefully snatching food out of the mouths of poor adults and children in the name of urging adults to ‘get a job’ in a society where working people make so little that they are also on welfare make me sick. Treating poor people like foolish children incapable of making the ‘right decisions’, therefore requiring limits like this bullshit bill make me not just ill, but angry.

We are people, damnit. Poverty is a trial and a burden. We don’t want to be in this situation. Treating us like shit doesn’t help us get jobs, it just makes the burden worse.



Poor People Aren’t People
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9 thoughts on “Poor People Aren’t People

  1. 1

    “If you’re nodding your head at these restrictions, read on. While fucking yourself.”

    Laughed out loud at that one. Well phrased.

    I’ve never understood the desire among those on the right to nickel and dime the people with the fewest nickels and dimes, while simultaneously enacting giant tax cuts on the rich and large corporations.

    America does have a welfare problem, a CORPORATE welfare problem.

  2. 2

    Policies for poor people, black people, and criminal defendants usually follow the same line – legislation against every possible misuse of the system. I’m not sure of the solution, except pushing for more actual research on the problems a bill is supposedly fixing. Perhaps, as skeptics, we should push for more facts in the bills. For example, the fact that someone somewhere bought a steak dinner on the public dime is not justification for banning steak. The percentage of public money going to steak should be somewhere in the bill.

    I dunno, spitballing here.

  3. 3

    If these laws were about “misuse” of the system, they would be founded on evidence that the things they prevent actually cost the system more money than the enforcement of the restrictions – evidence that the system actually suffers from poor people doing those things.

    Said evidence is *never* offered. The research is rarely done at all – and when it is, it almost always points the other way; drug testing of SNAP beneficiaries costs quite a bit more than the value of the SNAP benefits that would have been given to those who failed the drug tests.

    The fact that the promoters of these laws never offer evidence to support their restrictions, and continue supporting their restrictions even when the evidence is clearly against them, shows that “misuse” of the system is a deliberate lie.

    It has nothing to do with “misuse”. It is about suffering. The promoters of those laws believe that poor people suffering is as important as sinners going to Hell is in the world of Christians who believe in Hell. “Sloth”, to them, is one of the “Seven Deadly Sins”.

    Their whole ideology is founded on the belief that people only behave the “right” way if threatened with eternal punishment, and that redemption is only possible due to ultimate suffering.

  4. Nat


    Palliatives are a necessary part of mental health. I think we need to worry less about what people buy with welfare.

    1. 5.1

      It’s kinda wild, given that the majority of welfare recipients are white, but when most folks think of welfare, it’s black people and “illegal immigrants”.

  5. 6

    I agree with Nat. These things (movies, steak, swimming) aren’t misuse. They’re not abuse of a system or poor judgement. I trust most people to know what the best way to spend their money is for them.

    Also, our culture is always yelling at everyone to go get more physical activity. Everyone is always wringing their hands and moaning about how kids don’t get exercise these days. And then they want to keep poor people from going to the pool? Fucking really? What’s next, parks? Honestly, one of the best possible uses of public funding is getting families with kids memberships to a YMCA or similar family-friendly program with pools and gyms and activities. It keeps people occupied, connected to their communities, SAFE, and moving. For many people pools are the ideal physical activity because of injuries, joint issues, etc.

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