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Monday, September 14, 2009

Food Stamps & Potato Chips

I was at Kmart yesterday buying a battery for a watch I found at a flea market (an older L.L. Bean watch...pretty neat actually...and worth the $2 I paid for it) and I had the misfortune of being behind a group of ladies who, among other things, were buying several bags of potato chips with an Access card. Now I don't know all of the specifics of how some of these programs work; hell I still use the term "food stamps". Anyway, it just seemed strange/odd/wrong that these folks were buying something like potato chips with a benefit program that seems more designed to provide food that I would think should fall into the "staple" category.

Returning home, I conducted about ten minutes of research and found what I think are the "Food Stamp Rules" on-line. USDA Link here. They seem pretty reasonable to me, although there is no mention of potato chips anywhere to be found. Oh, and I am glad that someone can't buy booze or smokes with an Access card.

All of the above points to a larger issue, namely what our society has become, thanks in part to what I think has been a overly consumer-driven economy where "having" becomes more important "needing". This isn't to deny though the real fact that we all have free will and make personal choices that ultimately dictate how we act. Never the less, here we are, living in a society where I once saw...

...someone using an Access Card to buy groceries in a Quickie Mart (way over-priced)
...while talking on their cell phone
...and after the Access Card transaction is complete, using cash to buy a pack of cigarettes

Somehow our society has decided that there is nothing wrong...hell, there doesn't even seem to be something ironic...with someone begging for money from the government on one hand for food, but yet having the money for a luxury such as a cell phone on the other. Oh, and I could send an hour ranting about the tobacco thing; suffice to say that I find it horrible that the public pays for free healthcare for someone who destroys their own health via smoking.

Maybe it's just me. Maybe I'm just turning into an angry middle-aged white guy. Maybe I am slowly becoming "The Man". It all though just sounds so very, very wrong. I want the government to help people up, not subsidize bad choices and behaviors.


Anonymous said...

Hello Steve,

No, it isn't you. I don't think I have reached the status of middle age yet, (how is that defined?) but I feel the same as you do.

We have become an entitlement society whereby wants become needs, needs become rights, and rights become entitlements. There is no concept of earning things, or working you way up the ladder, etc.

Coincidently Steve, this is exactely why I tend to shy away from homilies on Social Justice. I feel that an over emphasis on Catholic Social teaching which many priests seem to be doing in many dioceses across the country encourages and plays right into this entitlement mentality.

As a Catholic Priest, I work for my paycheck. No one hands it too me, and I spent 13 years to get where I am at. While I did not earn priesthood, (God gave it as a gift) I still had to work for it. You can't just coast through seminary and expect to get ordained.

I have been raised to work for what you want, do not rely on others to do for you what you could and should do for yourself. If you want something, then YOU make it happen. Self reliance and personal responsibility is what I believe in. We have the Christian responsibilty to care for those who CANNOT care for themselves. We do not have the responsibility to care for those who CAN care for themselves, instead choosing not to.

That is just my opinion however. I would love to hear someone else's thoughts.

God Bless!

Father Dave Bechtel

Stephen Albert said...

Nice to hear from you Father Bechtel.

As for "middle age", I don't know if there is a firm line in the sand. I have a feeling I'm there, although actually qualifying the matter is difficult.

I think we completely agree on this point. I learned a long time ago, that for something to truly have value, you need to work for it...and conversely, if you don't work for it, it probably doesn't really have any value for you. That's been true for me in terms of both relationships and for physical items/needs/wants.

This is one of the reasons why I support healthcare reform TO THE EXTENT THAT it would require EVERYONE to pay something for it. Healthcare has value, and that value becomes diminished if it's just provided "for free". I pay a shocking amount for that benefit at work, and while I think it's too much, I see the value in having it. Conversely, while I don't expect someone earning $12,000 a year to pay the same that I pay for this, they should be paying at least SOMETHING. Everyone needs some financial "skin" in this game.

As a final note, some of the hardest working people I've ever met were priests and nuns. It's clearly an occupation you don't get into for...

a) the money
b) the cool threads

Best Regards,
- Steve

Anonymous said...

Oh, I don't know Steve-- You have never met me, so you have never seen my "threads."

Steve, if you ever met me, you would see right away that I am not your typical run of the mill Catholic priest! Maybe you have already figured that out.

My clerical shirts are not all black, some are light blue with white cuffs, some are blue and white striped with white cuffs. Some have french cuffs. I think they look pretty darn good if you ask me!

You see, when I worked in the secular world, I had to dress up for work. One of the things I miss about the secular world is dressing up, and all those cool dress shirts. So I had clerical shirts made in the same style. They don't really cost more then the regular black shirts. When I wear them my brother priests will be known to say "Oh, hello 'Reverend' what Protestant Church are you from?"

Some Catholic clergy wear colored clerical shirts, but that is mainly a Protestant thing at least in this area. Hence my brother priests think I look like a Protestant minister or "Reverend" when I wear them. But I like them. I think they are classy. It is also a nice change every now and then to wear color.

Ultimately Steve one becomes a priest because one comes to the realization that God created them for that vocation. That is the long and short of it.

As for the money- you have to remember, even if there was a lot of money to be made in the priesthood- if someone doesn't like their job, the money becomes irrelavent real quick. For example- if someone is going to be a doctor becasue of the income potential alone- they will fail in medical school. You do what you do becasue that is what you like or love to do, often when you love what you do, you are happy so long as you can pay your bills, and maybe have enough left over to eat out every now and then.

Father Dave Bechtel