I was in a meeting the other day where the moderator was discussing his wife’s recent application for Social Security benefits. His wife was appalled when she was offered an application for Food Stamps by the person meeting with her for Social Security.
This comment by the moderator got me thinking. Is there really a difference between receiving Social Security and receiving food stamps?
Let’s take a look. Both are social programs intended to help people without sufficient funds to live without assistance. Both programs are paid for with our tax dollars. Both programs are administered by the government.
So what’s the difference? I submit that the difference is solely cosmetic. In fact, there is not a difference. Welfare is welfare.
Contrary to popular believe, we do not “pay in” to Social Security. Some people will pay very little in Social Security taxes over their lifetime and will receive significant benefits from the program. Others will pay huge amounts into Social Security and receive very few benefits.
My children will probably never receive ANY benefit from Social Security, despite having paid into the system since they were working part time jobs in high school.
So what’s the difference between receiving Social Security benefits and receiving food stamps? I would suggest is it only a superficial difference. If you are willing to take Social Security, why wouldn’t you be willing to take food stamps? The only reason I can discover is that food stamps have a social stigma to them as only applying to the poor. 30 years ago, this same stigma applied to Social Security benefits. Many people didn’t sign up for Social Security or Medicare because they didn’t want to be thought of as taking a hand out from the government. These days, it’s pretty clear that everyone wants to take advantage of Social Security and Medicare as soon as they can because they “entitled” to it, since they paid into the system.
I’m never going to judge someone as good or bad for taking advantage of social programs, whether they be Social Security or food stamps or Medicare or Unemployment or any other program. Let’s just admit that we are willing to take “our share” from the government and stop pointing fingers because our welfare is more socially acceptable than someone else's.
The reality is that the Internal Revenue Code is full of social programs for farmers, entrepreneurs and investors. The poor and middle class seem to point their fingers at these people and call the tax system “unfair.” At the same time, the rich point their fingers at the poor and middle class and call social programs such as food stamps “unfair” or “welfare.”
What do you think? Aren’t we all on some type of welfare from the government by virtue of tax breaks for housing, charitable contributions and 401(k)’s? Maybe it’s just time to admit that we all take advantage of the social programs we feel entitled to and socially acceptable.