Apparently government assistance is the hip new thing. As The Daily Caller reports, “A nightclub in Montgomery, Ala. is raising eyebrows by hosting a ‘Food Stamp Friday’ party on April 6 that seems to glamorize life on the federal government’s food assistance program.”
According to the article, patrons who present their food stamp cards at the door will pay a $5 cover charge to get into the Rose Supper Club in North Montgomery. And, as the invitation—which “mimics an Electronic Benefit Transfer card”—advertises “there will be ‘free shots at the door.’”
Glamorizing government dependence disrespects those who fund welfare programs: U.S. taxpayers. It also disrespects recipients by completely distorting what the goal of any welfare program should be: to help individuals achieve independence from government assistance.
Since 2008, funding for food stamps has doubled from just under $40 billion in fiscal year (FY) 2008 to nearly $83 billion in President Obama’s latest FY 2013 budget. The number of Americans participating in the program has also increased dramatically over the last several years and today stands at approximately 46 million Americans, or about 15 percent of the population. While participation rates have gone up more rapidly during the recession, the food stamp program was already one of the fastest-growing welfare programs prior to the economic downturn.
The food stamp program is just one of about 10 different federal food assistance programs and one of approximately 70 federal means-tested welfare programs funded by taxpayers—at a cost of nearly $1 trillion a year.
However, while taxpayers have been funding growing welfare costs for nearly five decades, these programs have done little to promote personal responsibility. The food stamp program, along with every other government welfare program—aside from the one reformed in 1996, which restructured the largest cash assistance welfare program—has no sound work requirement for its participants. What made the 1996 welfare reform successful was its rigorous work requirement, which resulted in millions leaving welfare for jobs. (Unfortunately, the reforms have been severely weakened in recent years.) Similar requirements should be included for the food stamp program, as well as other government assistance programs.
Receiving government assistance should not be the “in” thing to do. Rather, welfare should truly assist those in need by promoting work and self-reliance.