As the New York Times reports, America as a welfare nation is becoming normalized. Part of the reason is that the benefits establishment actually recruits people to take food stamps, even when individuals may feel they aren't that poor.
Of course the outreach is diverse and multilingual.
Once Stigmatized, Food Stamps Find Acceptance, New York Times, February 12, 2010
A decade ago, New York City officials were so reluctant to give out food stamps, they made people register one day and return the next just to get an application. The welfare commissioner said the program caused dependency and the poor were "better off" without it.
Now the city urges the needy to seek aid (in languages from Albanian to Yiddish). Neighborhood groups recruit clients at churches and grocery stores, with materials that all but proclaim a civic duty to apply - to "help New York farmers, grocers, and businesses." There is even a program on Rikers Island to enroll inmates leaving the jail.
"Applying for food stamps is easier than ever," city posters say.
The same is true nationwide. After a U-turn in the politics of poverty, food stamps, a program once scorned as "welfare," enjoys broad new support. Following deep cuts in the 1990s, Congress reversed course to expand eligibility, cut red tape and burnish the program's image, with a special effort to enroll the working poor. These changes, combined with soaring unemployment, have pushed enrollment to record highs, with one in eight Americans now getting aid. [...]
Last month, [Colombian immigrant Alba] Catano was back at work, with a benefit of $170 a month and no qualms about joining 38 million Americans eating with government aid. "I had the feeling that working people were not eligible," she said. "But then they told me, 'No, no, the program has improved.'Â "
I certainly don't begrudge struggling citizens getting help in this terrible economy. However, a dependency habit is being instilled which may endure beyond the hard times.
In addition, the Times article contains no mention of food stamp fraud, which must be skyrocketing when do-gooders are shoveling free money around with such obvious enthusiasm. In 2008, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP — the refashioned presentation of food stamps) served 28.4 million people a month at an annual cost of $34.6 billion, so lots of money is in play.
Many immigrants come from cultures where ripping off the government is normal anyway, and everyone has their hand out. Immigrants are happy to collect lots of food stamps and then sell them for cash (at maybe 50%) to a fellow foreigner store owner who then redeems them for full value. The ill-gotten gains may be for personal use or may go for the support of jihad.
Meanwhile, regarding the fable that "They only come to work" and are not a drain on the public coffers, consider that more than half of immigrant-headed kiddie-including households receive taxpayer assistance: Welfare Use By Immigrant- and Native-Headed Households with Children.
In 2008, 53 percent of all households headed by an immigrant (legal or illegal) with one or more children under age 18 used at least one welfare program, compared to 36 percent for native households with children. Immigrant use of welfare tends to be much higher than natives for food assistance programs and Medicaid. Use of cash and housing programs tends to be very similar to natives. A large share of the welfare used by immigrants is received on behalf of their U.S.-born children. But even households with children comprised entirely of immigrants still have a welfare use rate of 47 percent.
Your tax dollars at work, building a diverse, dysfunctional America!