The Washington Post had an interesting article last Sunday about Woonsocket, Rhode Island. One third of the people in this town are on what used to be called, in a less sensitive time, food stamps, but which are now called SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program). The name changed and so did the stigma involved in presenting food coupons. Now, government dependents just swipe a card that looks just like your ATM card, Peasant. Recipients in Woonsocket call the first of the month “Check Day,” and they don’t mean paychecks.
At precisely one second after midnight, on March 1, Woonsocket would experience its monthly financial windfall — nearly $2 million from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps. Federal money would be electronically transferred to the broke residents of a nearly bankrupt town, where it would flow first into grocery stores and then on to food companies, employees and banks, beginning the monthly cycle that has helped Woonsocket survive.
Three years into an economic recovery, this is the lasting scar of collapse: a federal program that began as a last resort for a few million hungry people has grown into an economic lifeline for entire towns. Spending on SNAP has doubled in the past four years and tripled in the past decade, surpassing $78 billion last year. A record 47 million Americans receive the benefit — including 13,752 in Woonsocket, one-third of the town’s population, where the first of each month now reveals twin shortcomings of the U.S. economy:
So many people are forced to rely on government support.
The government is forced to support so many people.
So many people indeed. People like Rebecka and Jourie Ortiz.
For the past three years, the Ortizes’ lives had unfolded in a series of exhausting, fractional decisions. Was it better to eat the string cheese now or to save it? To buy milk for $3.80 nearby or for $3.10 across town? Was it better to pay down the $600 they owed the landlord, or the $110 they owed for their cellphones, or the $75 they owed the tattoo parlor, or the $840 they owed the electric company?
Wait…tattoo parlor? What’s wrong with this picture?
The Chicago Tribune has an interesting article about the franking boom in North Dakota, which presents a very different vision of America’s future.
He dropped out of north suburban Richmond-Burton Community High School, and a few years later Andy Turco found himself staining decks in the summer, plowing snow in the winter and going without work for a month or two in between.
Nearly homeless, he saw himself on a dead-end path.
Then he talked to a buddy working here (Williston, ND), in a barren corner of North Dakota, where an ugly-sounding word — fracking — has driven oil from the ground and pushed unemployment down to 0.7 percent. That’s right: seven-tenths of one percent.
Turco sold his car, hopped in a van and drove west.
Today, he’s earning nearly six figures working about 90 hours a week on a drilling rig, one of many Chicago-area transplants who have joined thousands in a remote region experiencing an oil boom while much of the country tries to shake off a recession hangover.
“It is the best thing I ever did; no doubt about it,” said Turco, 24, who arrived in Williston in October 2011. “I’m finally living an adult lifestyle, instead of a teenage dropout lifestyle.”
There you have it. Two different approaches to life in America, people living hand to mouth, dependent on the federal government v. the freedom and dignity that come from growing up, standing on your own two feet and supporting yourself like the independent souls God intended us to be.
Reading the WaPo story about Woonsocket will depress you, of course, but even worse, if you are anything like me it will make you want to beat your head against the wall to drive out thoughts of what might have been had the GOP not been so lame and ineffective last year at completing a very important task; that is, ridding the Obama infestation from the White House and all the various regulatory agencies he controls. He and his merry band of Marxists are doing everything they can to create the Woonsocket future for America. Was it really so hard to explain that to the country?
Watching Reince Preibus and his fellow sufferers of ECBR (East Coast Brain Rot) discuss their ‘rebranding,” is enough to make me lose my lunch, Kids. I’ve got news for you, Reince, Karl, Steve, Matt, and all the other inside-the-Beltway geniuses who, speaking of paychecks, collect big ones, win or lose. If you need a focus group to tell you what you believe, you really should just hang it up and turn the important job of keeping our country from turning into a socialist paradise to people who know what they believe and who aren’t afraid to say it.
What say you? Are you, like me, still heartsick over the failure of the GOP to nominate a person who could articulate conservative principles that have universal appeal? Please comment below.