I remember sitting in a teacher education class when I was 19, hearing other students rant about welfare queens and tell stories of food stamp abuse that they’d witnessed. A generation later, as things grow difficult for more of us, we seem to have gotten neither smarter nor more compassionate about the poor, in spite of all the contradictory data I heard back in that education course, in spite of evidence now that the main difference between the poor and everyone else in income.
But still, I tenaciously put out more data. A new report from Brookings documents this: the number of people on foodstamps in the U.S. rose by 7 million between August of 2008 and August of 2009. Certainly, there’s something more at work here than laziness and a culture of dependence. Certainly, the children in these families deserve much more than scorn.
It is a cop out, to blame the individual 100% for their circumstances.