05 November 2010

Micromanaging

In a broad sense, we're all being micromanaged by our respective governments.  Drive on the left/right side of the road.  Pay taxes.  Don't drink soda.

Oh, wait.  That last part was only for people who are on assistance for food stamps in New York.  My bad.

I have to admit that my initial reaction to the story was that the taxpayers decided what the money was to be used for, and they have every right to expect that the money is used in accordance with their wishes.  Soda isn't really a fundamental food right.  I get that.

But then I thought some more about this issue.  After all, I know how I feel about the local Christmas charity, run by city and school officials.  It sends letters home in my schoolchildren's backpacks begging for donations.  Help the needy in our local community!  Who could resist helping a neighbour have a good Christmas with some basic gifts and a super-good meal?  The only stipulation for recipients is that they be in genuine need and oh, that all school-age children are enrolled in Cityname Public Schools.  And fair warning, they will be checking.

So if you don't educate your child as WE, the city and school supported by YOUR tax dollars, think is right?  No charity for you, then.

Ok.  Maybe I should be more charitable about the charity.  Perhaps I should say that they want to be generous, but only to those people who fulfill the role of what they choose to believe is a worthwhile recipient.  That means "good" parents who send their children to school.

So, good parents are defined as those who send their children to school, don't buy pop at the store, limit their television viewing hours and make sure not to say shucky-darn in front of the littles.  People who don't follow the rules are undeserving of sympathy or any help whatsoever.

"I'm undeserving," Alfie P. Doolittle would say, "and I aim to go on being undeserving."

But back to the material point.  With limited resources to give, we want to make sure our charity dollar is used well.  More bang for the buck.  I certainly don't just hand out money to people who ask on the streetcorner because I don't know if it's going to go straight to drugs or if it will meet a genuine need.  But do I have to give only to charities who provide one turkey, three cranberries and a bag of stuffing to each family factory-style because it's the most efficient use of my charity budget?

I'm really wondering.  Because although I can't control how people in New York allot their food stamp budget, I can be wise in my charitable giving and in my voting and more gentle in my compassion and understanding of others.  I'm working on it, anyway.  :)

6 comments:

  1. Okay, I am seriously giggling at the 'shucky darn'. I have never heard that one before, but will definitely throw it out there now! lol

    I agree that big brother tends to have his hands in our pockets and homes more than I like on many occasions, but I do agree with this one. Being a New Yorker, paying taxes, and seeing the crapper that our economy has become it infuriates me to stick to a firm budget for my own home- but not have that apply to the 'less fortunate'. We pay taxes to the point that it's driving the young people from our state. The jobs and the cost of living don't jive with starting out on your own here.

    To go through the store adding my purchases the whole trip thru, only to land behind a 'recipient of stamps' and see their purchases is upsetting to say the least. I don't buy name brand. I don't buy snack chips, sodas, or a lot of the other garbage that they do. But, if they want to eat that....that is fine. But PAY for it. I don't mean to generalize and lump them all together, for not all stamp using recipients take advantage of the system, or use their allotment to stock their homes for birthday parties. But those that do bother me.

    Last year NYS had a back to school stipend for families who enrolled their children in the public schools. So, we weren't in the handout circle from the word go.....but many who were took advantage of a check being given to them to provide their kids with a backpack and sneakers, a warm coat, and school supplies and instead went out and bought televisions, dvd players, cameras, and other items that have nothing to do with the purpose it was created for. The program was stopped. The few who used to program for the right purpose were punished.

    I do find it down right ignorant to expect a handout, then crap it away on garbage. That's me....but it's also my money being crapped away...

    I do see your point Mrs.C...but some things do need parameters.

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  2. I disagree that they should govern how the food stamps are spent. As long as it's on food. This is how it is for anyone that has a budget. Say a family only has $500 a month for groceries. If you spend it on all name brand and snack stuff, it's not gonna go far. If you are smart, use coupons, watch for savings, don't buy lots of junk, your funds stretch. Someone on foodstamps has a food budget just like someone who isn't on foodstamps. Both need to be smart on how they spend it. I've seen too many families fall apart in the economy to be too harsh on anyone. We have suffered badly in the economy ourselves. We almost lost everything but last minute pulled up. So I have compassion for people in this area unlike how I used to be before.

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  3. Having once been a "recipient of stamps" many years ago I'm fairly defensive when it comes to blanket criticisms of this group. I've known a lot of people who've used this system when they had to. Most of them are very careful to use their assistance wisely. It's simply that those who don't are the onces that everyone remembers.

    That said, frankly, I have no problem with the government dictating what people can use food stamps for. Especially as the purpose of the program is to assist people with low or no income in "acquiring adequate nutrition."

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  4. Ahh, Blondee, you describe just how I feel about Medicaid. The problem is I can't pinch the pennies on medical care very well.

    One of my sons has been IN the hospital more than OUT for the past year. His medical bills total just under $200,000 so far. They're not all in yet.

    I know insurance will be paying a good part of that, but um, let's not think that those out-of-pocket costs and constant copays aren't going to totally smack our family into the wall. Hard. And we PAY for this insurance, mind you.

    But if you have Medicaid? MYYY would we save a lot if we qualified, but there's that income in the way again. But given what we're spending, if we didn't count what we spent? We'd qualify.

    Oh, and last I checked into CHiP, the state law says you can't drop coverage to qualify.

    (head bang)

    So, I'm ok with NO Medicaid for anyone, but if you're going to have it, don't tax me, tell me I make too much and then treat others who don't pay into the system to way better medical care than I can get for my kid. Not right. Bet that's just how ya feel when you see the food stamps paying for grape pop. (I am partial to Diet Pepsi myself.)

    But (and here's where I get to Virginia's comment) I also find it true that going through hard times does teach compassion in a new and different way. I want to be a giver, but would I give to charity that supports people who make more money than I do? Scrape and save and give that money to xyz charity, who then apportions a fair bit out on travel expenses and la la la...?

    Ok, that was a tangent.

    Mary, it didn't even stinkin' occur to me to look at the mission statement for food stamps as you have done. God bless you! I want wisdom like that someday. :)

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  5. Mrs. C.- After working in the medical community, I've seen so many times just how badly the Medicaid system needs to be overhauled.Those who are fortunate enought to have jobs that provide insurance are blinded with co-pays, umbrella payments, and cash amounts needing to be met up front.... and it's discouraging that while we are driving our child all over CNY for testing right now that is 'covered' by our insurance,we have already been told that if we 'qualified' for Medicaid we would be able to see local doctors because they 'all take Medicaid'. That's nice to hear when your child rides for 20 minutes and starts screaming and you have another hour in the car at least....then the ride back home. :/

    And, for clarification- I did recieve stamps at one point. I do have compassion for those who are down on their luck, or in circumstances beyond their control. But, I likened it to being seated at someone else's dinner table.I would never consider asking a hostess to bring out something they weren't serving themselves just for me. And, I wouldn't insist on bringing something top of the line just for myself to have in front of them on their dime.I qualified for them for an 8 week peroid, and was very grateful for the help. I didn't look at it as freebies to live better than I normally did....and sadly, that's the impression given by some. Other food programs here have regulations to prevent taking advantage, and I think this one would, too.

    Happy weekend. :)

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  6. That's a good analogy, Blondee. And I didn't know that about your daughter... so you are going through the same thing we are. :(

    I had not thought your first comment insensitive or lacking in compassion at all, btw. In light of Mary's comment (which really helped me focus on the purpose of the program) I don't wonder that it oughtn't be run more like WIC.

    In WIC, you can buy certain sizes and brands of cereal, cheese, milk, etc. The only thing is, they'd have to make reasonable substitutes for families with food allergies like ours. About half that program is all about milk and cheese.

    And happy weekend to you, too! :)

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