There is an oft-repeated phrase among progressive circles that the conservative right likes to create class warfare between the middle class and lower classes in order to (further) raise the rich.
This couldn’t be more obvious than Ronald Reagan’s infamous “welfare queen” story. Does anyone remember that made-up b.s. about folks — ahem, women with babies — living it up on food stamps?
Unfortunately, some of this myth-peddling dotted this otherwise sad and serious article in MSNBC.com about the “enormous spike” in business Wal-Mart is drumming up due to hungry families on food assistance.
At the stroke of midnight, a growing number of Americans are lining up at Walmart not to cash in on a holiday sale, but because they’re hungry.
The increasing number of Americans relying on food stamps to survive the sluggish economic recovery has changed the way the largest retailer in the United States does business.
Carol Johnston, Walmart’s senior vice president of store development, said that store managers have seen an “enormous spike” in the number of consumers shopping at midnight on the first of the month. That’s typically when those receiving federal food assistance have their accounts refilled each month.
“We’ll bring in more staff to stock. We’ll also make sure all of our registers…are open…Some people may think at 12:01, Walmart’s very quiet, but in a lot of our areas of the country, 12:01 is a big day or a big night for us, actually,” Johnston said.
I made the mistake of reading through the story — and yikes! — comments. I refuse to run the mean-spirited ones so here is the reasonable voice of descent:
TANF payments are small and finite. I think people believe “welfare” to be a thousand or more dollars a month and and an endless loop. You can collect cash assistance for a max of 5 years in most places and you’re required to seek employment if you are unemployed. I just looked this up and for a family of 3 making $900 a month, they’d get about $130 in assistance per month. Yeah, those lazy bums are really living it up on that welfare, aren’t they?
Bravo, Janie! In related news, the Boston Globe ran a sad “Globe Santa” letter by a Head Start teacher whose husband was laid off during the recession. To survive, they have depleted their savings, retirement and children’s college funds and now have no money for Christmas gifts. I have a feeling that newspapers across the country will have many of these letters to run. Sad.