I’m checking the State of Oregon Department of Human Services for a 4 member family that makes $36,000 a year (more than a first year Portland Public Schools teacher). After taxes, medical & dental insurance, Social Security, and paying into the company retirement program, that $3,000/month goes to a mere $2,200/month. Gas & car insurance run $200/month because there are no jobs nearby, so you have to travel. Water & Sewer are running about $80/month and electric is about $120/month. You need to have DSL for the job so they have a bundle pack of DSL, home phone service, and 1 cell phone to share in case of emergencies $100. Luckily this is a single income family and the other parent stays home with the kids. Total expenses: $1,400. This family has $800 left per month for food, copays, car repairs, student loan repayments, hospital visits, therapy, clothes, entertainment, etc. This family in the example is lucky becuase they don’t have any loan repayments to worry about, they’re young and healthy, and their children don’t have any health problems or impairments. They also don’t qualify for food stamps.
Another four member family. Both adults work full time at $8.40/hour. Their total gross income is $2,822.40. After taxes, this is about $2,100. They have an apartment in the same complex as adult A’s mother’s apartment @ $885/month for a 3 bedroom (the kids are opposite gender so need their own rooms). Adult A’s mother helps with watching the kids sometimes since both of them work at a fast food chain and don’t have a set schedule. She’s on section 8, but has no other income so charges $200/month (much better than $3 per child per hour). They don’t have internet or anything fancy, but they do have a prepaid cell phone since their credit is crap ($55/month for Cricket). Electric is only about $65/month since it’s only a 950 sq. ft. apartment. It’s $88/month apiece for a Trimet All Zone bus pass, so that totals to $176/month. The children were both abused at a young age, so the copays for therapy once a week are $25 per child ($50 total) and one of the children have really bad asthma & allergies, so $15 for incidental inhaler & $25 for the steroid inhaler ($40 total). Total expenses are $1471. This leaves $629 left over for everything else needed. Luckily, they qualify for $196/month in food benefits. Hope they don’t have any unforeseen emergencies.
A woman addicted to amphetamines lives with her parents and has a child. She does not work and is absent much of the time. She receives $200 a month in child support. She gets $350/month for her child and her in food benefits, but trades them for 50 cents on the dollar for cash. She does not pay rent or contribute food to the house.
How many of you have seen someone sell food stamps for cash? How many of you have been approached by someone offering to buy your food in exchange for cash? Unfortunately, aside from reporting instances in which you see someone abusing the system, I don’t know how to fix this. Do you? Please comment.
EDIT—Let me make it clear, that I am not opposed to giving people food stamps. I AM against the fact that our system is so broken that people can’t make enough money to buy food for their families. You can talk about how people don’t live within their means until you’re blue in the face, but the fact is that someone who makes $80,000 a year can live much more comfortably than someone who makes $30,000 a year (even though both are labeled middle class). Food stamps and WIC are like putting a band-aid over an arterial wound. Nine bucks an hour sure and hell won’t have you eating much better than ramen noodles & PB&J sandwiches (My luxury meal used to be mixing mac n cheese & spaghetti rings. Poor man’s casserole for under a buck!).—
P.S. I don’t believe that drug tests are the answer because things like meth, crack, and heroin only stay in the system for 48 or less hours. Plus, drug tests run anywhere from $20 to $80 per test and you’re wasting a lot of money testing people that don’t use drugs.