aka it’s time for another rant from Kel
This is a picture taken of me at work the other night. I might look happy, but that’s really a bitter smile. I’m saying, “If it wasn’t for Allen’s Coffee Brandy, the state of Maine would go bankrupt. We’d have to sell ourselves back to Massachussetts.” I’m also saying, “Shit! Look at that double chin!” and “Wow! My teeth sure look extra white in black & white photos!” But those are topics for a different blog entry.
The store I work at accepts EBT (Electronic Benefits Transfer) cards. For those of you who are unfamiliar with them, they are basically like debit cards, only instead of bank balances they carry food stamp and TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, aka welfare) balances for state aid recipients. I have said many a time and oft that I have no problem with the concept of state/federal aid for those who qualify for and need it. I still feel that way. “There but for the grace of God and my husband’s full time job go I” about sums it up. Some go so far as to call me a liberal. But there are more than a few problems I have with the way the system works, and today I’m gonna talk about the one that pisses me off the most; probably because I see it way too often.
Did you know that (at least in Maine) you can buy alcohol and tobacco products with your EBT cards? Well, you can. Not on the food stamp account, of course, but with the TANF account. That’s right! Every weekend I wave goodbye to much of my precious tax money as many of my town’s most poverty striken residents use it – not to fill up their gas tanks or oil tanks or on toilet paper – but to get wasted on Allen’s Coffee Brandy and suck on their nicotine sticks. Many of these same residents use their food stamp accounts for things like chips and soda and candy bars and donuts. Oh, and milk. To mix with their Allen’s Coffee Brandy. With my tax money. While I’m busting my ass working at a convenience store, on a cement floor, for nine hours straight each night, without a break, helping to fill up the state’s coffers with my paycheck, just so the state can give it to these fucking people to spend on liquor and cigarettes. In twenty years, half of ’em will end up with alcoholic liver disease and lung cancer and diabetes, and my tax money’ll go towards their medical bills. And why not? My tax money will have helped to put ’em in the hospital in the first place.
Meanwhile, down the road from me lives a woman with three kids. Her husband left her a few years ago, leaving nary a trace behind. She went to work full time to support herself and her kids, but child care is expensive. So is food and clothing and heating oil and electricity, and she frequently doesn’t have enough money to go around. She applied for state assistance a few weeks ago and was turned down. She makes $11/month too much. ELEVEN DOLLARS. Yet a twenty-two-year-old girl with four kids (oldest age 8 – I shit you not) comes into the store at the first of the month, every month, and buys four gallons of Allen’s and five cartons of Marlboros with her EBT card.
That’s almost $340. Of my tax money. Every month. That’s a little over 130 gallons of heating oil. That’s two months of a light bill. That’s a lotta damned groceries and a sackful of winter coats and hats and mittens. Instead it’s being pissed out and puked up and inhaled and exhaled by a girl who’s never worked a day in her life, and probably never will. And why should she? She gets everything she wants every month. With my tax money.