Putting food-stamprecipients to workis a valid idea


Critics of a plan to require work out of able-bodied childless adults in order for them to remain eligible to benefit from food stamps won’t attack it based on merit because, truthfully, there isn’t anything flawed about the requirement. Instead they will point to the meanness of it all.

In doing so they will be missing the most important point, that people who depend on the government to put food on the plate will actually benefit from the self-esteem that can be derived by productivity.

The regulation, which was part of President Bill Clinton’s sweeping welfare reform law of 1996, was suspended in 2008 when this nation was on the front end of a deep recession because of concerns that there would not be enough jobs to go around. But beginning in January, states will again have the option of requiring able-bodied adults to work at least 20 hours a week or be in a job-training program to remain eligible and North Carolina is among those that will do so.

According to the state Department of Health and Human Services, the average food-stamp beneficiary in North Carolina is receiving about $36 worth of help a month.

Now seems like a good time to remind those who complain about all those lazy do-nothings who receive food stamps that most of them are hardworking people trapped in jobs that won’t pay all the bills.

We would like to see the regulation loosened to include community service. There is no shortage of community projects in this county that would benefit from the sweat of an able-bodied adult, and we would put cleaning our trashy highways near the top of the list.

Again, this isn’t punishment, but simply asking able-bodied adults who aren’t busy tending to their children to contribute to a society that is benevolent enough to make sure that the least among us don’t go hungry. There is also the practicality of the regulation as part-time work can sometimes lead to full-time employment, and job-training can do that as well.

There is no denying that a stigma is attached to those who have to depend on welfare, and most folks who look down their nose at those who do forget that they themselves are a bad break or a couple of missed paychecks away from having to get in that line.

But we should all acknowledge that there is simply no reason any able-bodied and childless adult can’t be chipping in for the collective good. The rule make sense, and it will benefit everyone, even those who will be asked to get off the couch.

Courtesy of The Robesonian, Lumberton

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