"Food stamps, WIC, and welfare are OK, but there are too many moochers. The assistance programs are for single moms who are busting their asses, but just today I saw a woman use it for buying frozen pizzas, TV dinners, donuts, and gummy bears, then she took out her iPhone and started gabbing. After that she walked out to her goddamn Escalade and her baby daddy helped her load the groceries! Why can't he pay for the gummy bears? She's probably lying about his income, too. These people are abusing the system, mooching off our tax dollars. Sure, when I was younger I was a single mom, and, yeah, I got a little in food stamps, but I didn't buy crap food with it, and I had the decency to drive a crappy car!"
So that's what a random friend of a friend opined (well, paraphrased) on a mostly unrelated topic.
There were so many ways I could go with it, I wasn't sure where to start. I mean, I'm against welfare fraud, but how could she possibly detect fraud based solely on that encounter?
First thing I thought of was that article from The Onion: Woman A Leading Authority On What Shouldn't Be In Poor People's Grocery Carts.
It fits so perfectly, so I responded with it, but there's so much more to unpack in her statements. I engaged briefly, but I decided to not continue and waste any more of my time trying to convince a random person I'd never met that she was wrong. I disengaged, but thought it was great fodder for an article.
She made a number of very uncharitable assumptions.
First off: The iPhone and Escalade. A big assumption is that if she can't afford to buy food, she can't afford an iPhone and an expensive SUV. There are a few possibilities here. 1) She owned them already, before she ran into financial problems. In that case, selling them wouldn't get much money, barely enough to get cheap-o replacements, and take up valuable time and energy. 2) She borrowed the phone or car from a kind friend or relative.
Second: the "baby daddy". How do you now that was the children's father? Maybe it was her new boyfriend? Maybe it was a brother? Maybe it was just a kind friend helping out?
Third: Even if he were the father, why assume he's lying about his income? Maybe he works and just doesn't make much? Maybe he's disabled? Maybe he's supporting a larger family or a disabled relative?
Fourth: You're assuming she doesn't work, but maybe she does and just doesn't make enough?
Fifth: Convenient food is worth a lot more than homemade food to the time-strapped. Suppose she works several shifts? A few frozen pizzas and TV dinners her kids can make themselves are more valuable than a healthy meal that takes 45 minutes to make.
Sixth: You saw her with gummy bears and donuts (gasp!), and assumed those were absolutely normal, everyday purchases. But maybe she scrimped elsewhere for while to get a special treat for a sick kid? Maybe she had an especially crappy day of judgmental bastards judging her and said "screw this, I'm gettin' a goddamn donut"? (Sixth.5: who the fuck cares? It was a bag of gummy bears and some powdered donuts, not crack cocaine.)
Items 7 - 24 skipped to save space.
Finally, for you personally: During that time you were on welfare, you bought no "junk"? It doesn't matter if it wasn't directly with welfare money, since you could have spent it instead of the foodstamps. No sodas, no chips, no fast-food? No pizzas? No beer or wine? No cigarettes? No movies or cable TV? No unnecessary purchases at all? Nothing your current self would have judged your past self for? And would your current self believe that your past self was a struggling single mom, or just someone lying about her "baby daddy's" income?