There have always been a lot of people critical of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (aka SNAP aka food stamps), and the recent growth of SNAP to $72 billion is something that does not fit well with these people.
Now the problem here is that people are viewing food stamps as a solution to poverty, which it was never meant to be in the first place. Food stamps are an emergency resource that allows those hardest hit by poverty to focus on education and job-hunting instead of their basic survival needs.
In short, food stamps are a safety-net meant to catch those who are already suffering. It is in this manner that SNAP has succeeded; providing relief for those laid off and still unable to find decent jobs in a rotten economy.
Two questions that are in everyone’s mind talk about a return and sustainability: how much does it cost to finance SNAP and are we indeed making people overly dependent on food aid instead of hard work?
For the first question, let us ask ourselves how much it costs to NOT provide a food stamp program. Remember that letting hunger retake America is not just morally wrong, but can breed old social ills that can be easily dismissed when everyone has a full stomach. Crime can easily become a more attractive alternative to death by starvation. Try factoring the cost of rampant crime alone – never mind the lack of productivity and general social dissent – and you can see the benefits of food stamps easily outweighing the costs.
Then there is the issue of dependency. Near-grinding poverty is a prerequisite for receiving food stamps, so do people really believe that people want to stay stuck in poverty with barely a thing to their name? And besides, punishing the poor and hungry by withholding food from them will only compound the problem. Breathe life back into the job market, bring in decent pay that scales up over time, and you will see people drop off the food stamp program like flies.
So no, SNAP is not something we should kill. In fact, it is the one of the precious few programs that allow Americans to hold on to a normal life while those running the country and the businesses that keep it alive get their act together.