Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Food stamps and poor choices

I was standing in line at WinCo yesterday, and the guy ahead of me was buying some roasted chicken, and some DVDs.  He was working out with the checker to pay for the chicken with his EBT, card, i.e., food stamps, and to pay cash for the DVDs.  He bought 4 movies, for about $16.

  I only saw a couple of the titles, but I didn't recognize them, meaning that they were pretty low budget releases.  Which also told me that the guy would watch pretty much anything.

My first though was, jeez, dude, if you need economic help, perhaps buying DVDs is not your best choice.   I thought, you know, you could go to the library and probably find lots of movies you'd watch, for free.  But then I thought, well, if he's out of work and at home, maybe he'll watch each movie several times, and pass the time a bit.  Even poor people need entertainment, maybe even more than more well off folks, since a poor life can be harsh, and distraction brings relief.

So, maybe that was a rational economic decision.  But then I remembered a saying a fellow I used to work with would say when he'd see a poor person buying cigarettes, or something:  "Poor people have poor ways."  Although that be taken two ways, I always thought he meant that making sub-optimal choices tended to help keep poor people poor.  It's not a good idea to smoke, especially when you're struggling to get by anyway and can't really afford the $5 (or whatever it is) a pack a day.  That's $150 a month, which would really help a poor person.

Anyway, I didn't begrudge the guy the food stamps (I know, SNAP), and I have no deep thoughts on the subject.  Other than, I'm pretty sure this anecdote is NOT evidence of the failure of the SNAP program.

1 comment:

Kim and Victoria said...

Good blog. Nice to see some middle ground thinking in Idaho.
Yeah, I've been on food stamps, temporarily, once. It sucks being poor.