Need Food Stamps? What’s Your Collateral?
The war against the poor rages on as Pennsylvania announced plans to make the amount of food stamps people receive contingent on the assets they possess.
As of May 1, 2012, people under 60 with more than $2000 in savings or other assets would no longer be eligible for food stamps. For those over 60 the limit is a slightly less-draconian $3250. Houses and retirement benefits are exempt from counting as an asset, as is one car. But any additional vehicle worth more than $4650 would be considered a countable asset.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Welfare said the move was designed to combat welfare fraud, though advocates for the poor note that Pennsylvania has one of the lowest food stamp fraud rates in the nation: one-tenth of 1 percent. Furthermore, at least 30 percent of the people who are eligible for food stamps in Pennsylvania and throughout the nation don’t access them, making the benefit program under-subscribed.
The move is really nothing short of punitive and counter-productive to conservatives’ stated goal of making people less dependent on government. The plan punishes elderly people who are trying to save for their burials, poor people desperately trying to save enough money to move to a better location, and working-and middle-class people who have lost their jobs during the recession and are now forced to liquidate assets to feed their families.
Then again, we all know that for most conservatives in office it not really about making people less dependent on government as it is punishing the poor and casting a moral judgment because they exist in poverty.
Photo from Borya via flickr.