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Unread 09-17-2014, 10:12 AM   #16
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I'm going to say a few words. I believe in some times it can be ethical/unethical.

I say this as someone who as a kid, after my dad broke his back in a construction accident, we were on some assistance very briefly. We should have been on longer. My family was too proud. I stole fruits and veggies from fields and backyards because I was hungry. We did not have enough to eat, and food was rationed quite literally in my household, but my parents were too proud most of the time. I have lived off of food baskets from churches and foraging. It sucked.

My brother and his wife were on WIC a few years back with their firstborn. He was in an ivy league school and making bank. I have no idea how they qualified, but they were buying designer clothes, had plenty of money, etc. I view that as unethical. They were abusing the system. It was far too easy there.

On the other hand, while my other brother was out of work in vegas and on food stamps, It wasn't quite enough to have a healthyish diet. I frequently sent small funds with strings attached. (Like, send me a picture of you eating an orange from today as you are at high risk for scurvy) It was nowhere near enough there. It took extra funds to keep him from starving.

A few years back I qualified, but didn't take anything because I was making enough to get by. I was working a low wage job in San Diego. I was also mostly comfortable. Money was very tight, but we had food and could make rent. On my end though, I wanted things a little pressured because I wanted to not get too comfortable where I was. And I could make it. I hustled and things got better.

I pay a lot in taxes as well. I will say I am pissed when those on assistance have all the things I can't afford and then complain about how they don't have enough to eat. (Especially when they eat better than I do to boot.) The problem there is not poverty. I will say if you genuinely need it, it can be a great safety net.

However, it can be a trap as well. It can sap motivation by getting too comfortable. (This could be personality type dependent too.) I have a tendency to be okay as long as I am not in severe pain and hungry. Now that I have a family I am far more motivated, but personally, it felt risky to me, knowing myself, to take it, and IMO, that is a valid concern.

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Unread 09-18-2014, 01:05 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bobthecockroach View Post
I don't want to derail this thread... but there are unfathomable amounts of money being spent to convince the American (and worldwide) public that Playstations, TVs, massive trucks, and satellite dishes are things you are just supposed to have as a citizen of the 21st century. And in America especially, conspicuous consumption makes almost any amount of wealth less than being a multi-millionaire seem like poverty by comparison.

I recognize, intellectually, that by global standards I am fabulously wealthy and that even by American standards, I'm doing pretty well, but it certainly doesn't it feel like it when I have to decide whether or not I can afford something which is presented as normal in American society, like going out to eat or buying a smartphone.

I don't blame people for feeling like "everyone else seems to have this, why can't I?" Because I feel that way myself sometimes, and the only government assistance I've received is some tuition assistance years ago when I was in school.

Which is a fair observation which explains foolish behavior but it doesn't excuse it. It's very frustrating to see government programs which enable American consumerism.

Quote:
Finally, this idea of I'm-going-to-do-it-myself is, I think, a particularly American way of viewing things. I don't think people try to find ways to pay for their health care in the UK because they don't want to draw from public resources. These programs were set up by popular vote (sometimes indirectly for sure) for exactly this purpose, to help people with low incomes. I don't see any reason to feel guilty for accepting help that your fellow citizens voted for specifically to help.
To that point, if you believe these programs were passed to help people who are X, and you believe that you are Y, then fellow citizens didn't vote to pass this law to help someone like you.
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Unread 10-09-2014, 01:22 PM   #18
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I know not everyone falls into the same category, but I would caution against judging someone on what they have compared against what they make.

The Christmas we made or bought all our children’s presents from Goodwill, we still had a at the time fairly nice, fairly new (by our standards) car that was a carry-over from more financially secure days. We didn’t buy new clothes that year, but someone did give me a new computer to help out with a project I was working on.

In our case, the assistance we qualified for really did mean the difference between (the adults) choosing between food and rent —and my wife and I had four part-time jobs between us — even though we were in possession of some status symbols.

This was at the lowest point of the recession before the recovery when employers were only giving out 10-15 hours a week when they were hiring. We felt nothing but relief to be out of that situation and I more or less think of paying taxes now as an honor payment for the help we got.
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