In their neverending quest to grab federal dollars, states are now competing to sign up their citizens for federal food stamps. A piece in Wednesday’s Washington Post details the efforts of states ranging from Florida to Rhode Island to Alabama to sign people up for food stamps, since food stamp cash flows to local businesses via federal allotments. Florida has hired food stamp recruiters to sign people up for food stamp applications. Rhode Island apparently sponsors bingo games for elderly people, with the goal of signing them up for food stamps. Alabama advertises: “Be a patriot. Bring your food stamp money home.” According to the Post, “Three states in the Midwest throw food-stamp parties where new recipients sign up en masse.”
When people protest at being signed up for food stamps, the recruiters in Florida encourage them to get over their shame. The Post reports this exchange between Dillie Nerios, a food stamp recruiter, and an elderly Floridian:
NERIOS: “Sir, can I help?”
MAN: “I don’t want to be another person depending on the government.”
NERIOS: “How about being another person getting the help you deserve?”
The man, Lonnie, is 60 years old. He made bad financial decisions, but because he didn’t encourage government dependency, his children are all working. At first, he turned down the food stamps. But Nerios was persistent. The federal government actually helps hand out training materials for recruiters like Nerios, including ways of convincing Americans to stop worrying about whether they are living off the taxpayer. The training materials teach how to overcome objections to taking Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program checks:
“You worked hard and the taxes you paid helped create SNAP.”
“Everyone needs help now and then.”
“Lots of people, young and old, are having financial difficulties.”
Because of recruiters like Nerios, Florida’s food stamp enrollment has more than doubled in the last five years, from 1.45 million to 3.35 million. No wonder 47 million Americans are on food stamps: not only is the federal government encouraging individuals to discard their ethos of self-reliance in favor of dependency, state governments are getting in on the act in order to fatten up their own wallets.
Ben Shapiro is Editor-At-Large of Breitbart News and author of the New York Times bestseller “Bullies: How the Left’s Culture of Fear and Intimidation Silences America” (Threshold Editions, January 8, 2013).