Monday, March 29, 2010

Do the Right Thing

This is ridiculous:

About 20,000 people sign up for food stamps every day, and college students across the country are the newest demographic being encouraged to enlist. ...

Adam Sylvain, a sophomore at Virginia’s George Mason University, recounted a recent conversation with friends in his dorm room. “My roommate told me he applied for food stamps, and they told him he qualified for $200 a month in benefits,” Sylvain said. “He’s here on scholarship and he saves over $5,000 each summer in cash.”

“A few of our other friends who were in the room also said if there were able to, they would get food stamps … They think that if they’re eligible it’s the government’s fault, so they might as well,” Sylvain said.

College students are getting food stamps? Are you kidding me? The poor and those temporarily without a job can legitimately take this benefit as far as I'm concerned.

But traditional college students? No way. That is simply wrong. And it is depressing that they don't see it.

Back in college, I had a friend who applied for and got food stamps. I was shocked. It never occurred to me to apply for welfare. Was I poor? Absolutely. But I worked part-time jobs, usually at least 20 hours per week (except for one term when I wanted to see what kind of grades I could get without working and so lived on savings and financial aid only--all "As", I should add).

I bought cheap beer. I had no car. I don't think I bought a new pair of socks for my entire undergrad career. What I started with, minus losses, had to get me through all of college. I mostly bought used albums (you know, the big round vinyl things that once held music). Mac and cheese--without the luxury of using milk to mix with the powdered "cheese" was a staple. I onced used my last $5.00 to last the week until my next pay check in order to buy a bag of potatoes and a bottle of ketchup, which became my food for that week. When I worked in the dorm cafeterias, I'd eat food on the side, though it was verboten to do so.

But take food assistance? You got by--you didn't look for ways to skate by. When I was one of the lucky able to attend a leading university who could hope for a better future than those who went to work right out of high school? How is simply being broke under those conditions justification for taking welfare based on the tax dollars of hard working people? It didn't matter that I'd qualify under the rules the government sets. I was lucky---not down on my luck.

The attitude highlighted in the article will burn down our social contract. Our society requires us to do what is right, and not simply say that what is allowed is also right.

Our colleges aren't teaching that, now are they?