Here’s Simcha Fisher writing about her food stamp experience, and her experience should disturb you, but not the way combox losers huff and puff:
And we followed this plan for many months. I salted away savings, and I strolled past the meat freezer in the supermarket, lusting after the trays of meat, scorning the shameless slobs who stopped and filled up their carts on the taxpayer’s dime. Freeloaders. Scum. Oh lord, look at that steak. Stop looking. Now go get some spaghetti.
. . . I remember staring at the green catfish we kept in a tank, a leftover from our old life when we could consider buying luxuries like pets. He would swim around and around, and I would have these cartoonish, drooling fantasies about how delicious he would be, fried up in a pan with a little lemon juice. I’ve told stories about these things as if they were funny, but they were not funny.
Here’s what should bother you: Why is everyone so persuaded that buying meat is some kind of luxury for the elite? This is the point of food stamps. If you want people to subsist on boxes of spaghetti, you don’t need a mechanism to allow for the frequent purchase of fresh food. Meat, vegetables, fruit, butter, eggs . . . these are things that humans are supposed to be eating. Our bodies work this way.
That horrible horrible word “steak” just means a thin slab of meat. There are cheap steaks and expensive steaks, but for goodness sake we aren’t talking about emeralds and rubies, we’re talking about a slice of meat. Eating a slice of meat now and again is what humans do. Our bodies are designed to live off the stuff (and a lot of other things God created as well). We have the food stamp program specifically because it’s the most efficient way to manage the logistics involved in acquiring fresh food, and fresh food is what we want people to be able to eat.
If you are concerned about the virtue of the poor, set the example. Live the way people should live. There are not two standards of human, deluxe and reduced-for-quick-sale. If it’s allowed in your grocery cart, it’s not a sin for other people to put it in theirs.
Perhaps your neighbor is in fact terribly mistaken about whether, in her state of life, she should be purchasing the thing that your state in life clearly calls for. Perhaps you need to be a little more transparent about why you have the apparent luxuries that you do, so people understand that you aren’t wallowing in self-indulgence, it just happens to look that way.
But so long as you are living the extravagant life, eating meat and holding birthday parties and owning that extra pair of shoes, charitably assume that other people have good reasons for thinking they should live as you do.