Why you want to be on SNAP/EBT

Shopping for tickets to take one old person, one very old person, and one young person to Longwood Gardens, a non-profit org near Wilmington, Delaware…

My ticket will be $25. If I had an EBT card (“food stamps”), it would be $2. Paying $60 rather than $6 for our little group won’t change my lifestyle, but I wonder how seeing stuff like this every day makes middle class taxpayers (“the chumps”) feel.

Note that, to prevent COVID-19 in the garden, an elaborate system of timed tickets is in place.

On the way back, we wanted to visit the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia. Adults are $25. The price for EBT cardholders…. Free.

We ended up not being to get in at all because it was sold out on a Sunday, but an EBT cardholder would, presumably, have been able to go on an uncrowded weekday while all of the taxpayers funding SNAP/EBT were at work.


46 thoughts on “Why you want to be on SNAP/EBT

  1. EBT is all over food items on Amazon now, of course. Walmart.com doesn’t do this, and I suspect they have some internal data that says, “Don’t push EBT too much–it pisses off 75 percent of our customers.”

    I lurk at places like reddit.com/r/povertyfinance and it seems like the solution to most issues is “food bank, ebt, disability, SSI, etc”. People don’t have much shame, and never did. In ancient Rome, the corn dole was considered an entitlement to citizens and they would get plenty testy if it was threatened.

    I read an article a while back about how Mcdonalds, et al, were trying to get on that corporate welfare wagon as well. It will probably happen eventually. Apparently, people on two other handout programs, TANF and the “Restaurant Meals Program”(RMP) already can.

    • > People don’t have much shame, and never did.

      Why should people feel shame over being hungry and impoverished?

    • Why should people feel shame over being hungry and impoverished? Because those people are lazy and stupid.

    • > Why should people feel shame over being hungry and impoverished?

      When flour costs about 35 cents/pound, begging for food [1] should indeed bring shame upon your head. If you literally cannot afford the 50 cents a day it would cost to feed yourself, then your problems likely extend far beyond the merely financial.

      [1] And most likely, food that is 10+ dollars a pound. And most likely, bought by someone who is over- or even super-nourished already. And almost certainly by someone who drives a nicer car than me.

    • Toucan: Someone working fulltime or multiple jobs, at a poverty wage, is lazy?

      > analysis of data from the Census Bureau, as well as 15 state agencies across 11 states, found that “millions” of full-time workers rely on government assistance to make ends meet.

      Sound like you’re guilty of lazy thinking to me.

    • Someone working fulltime or multiple jobs, at a poverty wage, is lazy ? Yes work smarter not harder. The person you are referring to is a dumb dumb. Shame Shame on them!

    • Toucan: your disdain for the working class is painfully pathetic. No one should feel more shame than you.

    • Irrelevant from someone who is too broke to even buy a private jet, sex dungeon island or trip to space. Too dumb dumb and lazy for critical thinking.

    • @Anonymous, I don’t know what reality you live in.

      Poor people living in 3rd world country like south America or Africa or in war torn country like Syria or Yemen, are the ones that go hungry. They make far, FAR less then what an American “poor” person makes EVEN after you adjust for infatuation and cost of living. And guess what, they WORK to make enough to buy food. Furthermore, those real poor people are not poor at their own doing like American “poor” AND they get almost zero, let me repeat that, almost ZERO help from their government.

      Compare this to American “poor”. No matter how unfortunate and “poor” a person in America is, there is ALWAYS a roof over his/her head, and there is ALWAYS at least 1 meal available a day. And if that’s not enough, an American “poor” gets his free housing and meal by simply declaring he/she cannot find a job — no proof is needed.

      Finally, please do not give me your BS that a very small percentage of the “poor” population fall under this category. I can tell you, with first hand exposure, that well over 10% of Americans fall under this so called “poor” category. They know it and they game the system. Even worse, they help each other to game the system WITH the help of their social workers!!

      So yes, those “poor” Americans need to and be told to feel ashamed for being “hungry”.

    • George: I disagree with you that anyone should be ashamed for availing him/her/zir/theirself of the world’s 2nd largest (percentage of GDP) welfare system (see https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/robert-samuelson-our-giant-welfare-state/2014/11/25/28f815bc-74c1-11e4-a755-e32227229e7b_story.html ). If Americans vote to reward those who don’t work we shouldn’t criticize anyone who rationally follows the incentives presented and refrains from work. The U.S. as set up required, indirectly, that citizens work for at least 8 years before becoming entitled to vote (men started work at 13 and become eligible to vote at 21). But we have apparently decided that what we want is voters who have never worked and people whose first job might be 10 years in the future (an 18-year-old in college and on track for grad school). So we don’t have a work-oriented society anymore. In a country with no shared cultural values (today’s immigrants are entitled to stay if they say that they will be subject to violence in their birth country; they’re fleeing from somewhere not choosing to be here), I don’t think you can say that work is virtuous or that supporting oneself is somehow better than living for multiple generations at taxpayer expense.

      See also, from 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-indestructible-welfare-state/2019/07/31/551d0730-b3a3-11e9-8f6c-7828e68cb15f_story.html

      About 40 percent of the income of the poorest fifth of Americans comes in these government transfers: Medicaid, CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program), food stamps, housing subsidies and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

      These programs have grown rapidly. From 1979 to 2016, the number of Medicaid and CHIP recipients quintupled to 101.8 million, up from 20 million. The wealthiest Americans pay most of the resulting taxes. In 2016, the richest quintile received 54 percent of the income and paid 69 percent of federal taxes. As for the top 1 percent, its income was 16 percent of the total, and they paid 25 percent of federal taxes.

    • Hmmm…. in 1991 my diet was mostly half-rotten potatoes. I still remember them, quite vividly. Excuse me for not being impressed at all by the tales of woe of American bums. None of them ever been hungry.

      The reality is, the “less fortunate” are just thieves, in cahoots with politicos who use them to buy votes with the stolen goods. That they are stupid and addicted doesn’t change the basic fact: they live off proceeds of armed robbery (ahem, taxation). I have exactly zero sympathy to people who steal from me. I’d be quite willing to help – just for asking – but I’m not at all willing to do anything for people who claim that taking from me under threat of violence is their “right”.

  2. EBT and the likes are just another form of keeping the lazy so called poor even more lazy.

    I know tenants who during the COVIDFear lockdown got their rent paid by the government and some are still getting paid now. No, I’m not talking about Section 8, I’m talking about programs like RCAP and Mass ERAP. All that you have to do is show that you have a utility shutoff notice and near $0 in the bank and off your rent is paid.

    Those same renters, can afford to buy large screen TV, XBox, Cable, cell phone (when they don’t have ObamaPhone), drive a decent new car and take vacation.

    Give a man/woman a fish, and he/she will come back for more fish. Give a man/woman a net and he/she will look at it in wonder what to do with it!

    • In California they got their rent paid just by showing 1.) they had to pay rent and 2.) they had to self certify they were affected by covid.

  3. “I wonder how seeing stuff like this every day makes middle class taxpayers (“the chumps”) feel.”

    About the same way it feels watching “Dr” Phil. When I want to take my family across the state, we jump in the family car (10 years old) and motor along for many hours. To do that my wife and I both work 40+ hours a week.

    “Dr” Phil, an idle rich man who only works as desired and “retired” 20 years ago, puts his family in a multi-hundred-thousand dollar plane he owns (about the cost of my house) and flies over all of us plebes on the highway, probably spitting out the window onto us as he passes by.

    • Hear hear! I knew Mike would be coming with pitchforks sooner or later. This is how socialism operates, envy is its endless source of fuel. The rich will pay their share, dead or alive.

    • Mike wouldn’t be envious if he’d been with us the other day for the dramatic Stuart-to-Vero Beach flight in the unairconditioned SR20. He would have developed a new world of appreciation for the comfort, quiet, and climate control of his 10-year-old car. Sadly, there is no way to open the Cirrus windows either to spit or to take an undistorted photo. The spit-on-the-working-class mission is best accomplished in a Cessna 172 or 182.

      But someone in Mike’s situation should rationally be envious of almost everyone in U.S. society. If his house is worth the same as our 17-year-old SR20, that’s $250k. There are plenty of people who don’t work at all who live in much more valuable domiciles ($500k-$1 million) courtesy of Cambridge, Boston, New York City, or San Francisco housing authorities. And, more obviously, there are plenty of upper-middle-class and semi-rich douches who enjoy $1-3 million houses with only one adult working rather than two, as in Mike’s household. Mike is proving my point about the working-to-middle-class Americans being the chumps. They work like slaves, pay huge amounts in overall tax (income, FICA, property, sales, fuel, etc.), and may have a lower material standard of living than someone who has never worked but who has been thoughtful about using the welfare system. He is a living example of that CATO study cited in the original post on the work-versus-welfare tradeoff. Working is an economically rational choice only if about $200,000 per year can be earned and/or if someone puts no value on leisure time.

    • > This is how socialism operates, envy is its endless source of fuel. The rich will pay their share, dead or alive.

      Why shouldn’t the rich pay their share? Or you’re one of those “all taxation is theft” types?

    • Why should not rich pay their fair share? Who shall decide what’s fair? Let me guess – you are volunteering?

    • Australian Anonymous: “Why shouldn’t the rich pay their share?” As the 2nd Anon indicates, the key is defining “rich” and “share”! As it happens, these terms have fairly simple definitions. “rich” is someone with more money than our family has. “fair share” for that “rich” person is a 100 percent wealth tax on the amount by which he/she/ze/they is richer than us and also a 100 percent income tax.

    • @philg – that sounds like a plan! Also public flogging and tarring and feathering of the offensive rich is called for by the humble members of the working class. Just for the laughs at poor sods who “worked” to get more money then I. Imagine the cheek!

    • Australian Anonymous: if you’re tired of fake arguments, here’s the real distinction between Mike’s envy of the crummy Cirrus owner and the working class chump’s potential envy of someone who lives in public housing, gets health care from Medicaid, buys food with EBT, enjoys free museums and gardens 7 days per week, and talks on an Obamaphone: Mike isn’t paying for the Cirrus owner’s house, health care, food, and smartphone. She he’s envious, but not a chump. The worker who pays taxes to support the non-worker, on the other hand, is a chump any time that the worker’s overall lifestyle isn’t dramatically better than the non-worker’s.

    • The workers who “participate” (that’s the preferred term; they are activate participants, not passive recipients) in SNAP are generally super smart. When their effective tax rate hits 100 percent they stop working (see https://philip.greenspun.com/blog/2015/06/01/book-review-the-redistribution-recession/ ). When they are at risk of losing Medicaid, they cut back their hours (see https://philip.greenspun.com/blog/2019/11/06/fast-food-economics-in-massachusetts-higher-minimum-wage-leads-to-a-shorter-work-week-not-fewer-people-on-welfare/ ).

    • @Mike, @Anonymous, I’m a middle class who works 2 jobs, fulltime at a Big company and part time managing a small rental investment. Between the two jobs, I clock at least 60 hours a week.

      I don’t know about you, but every time I get my paystub, I want to spit on it — actually vomit on it when I see how much I’m left with. If some of this vomiting spills over the heads of our politician or the American “poor”, see [1] then I’m satisfied that my vomiting wasn’t a waste.

      Can you tell me what’s your reaction when you see your paystub? Or are you one of those who lives without a paystub?

      [1] https://philip.greenspun.com/blog/2022/07/11/why-you-want-to-be-on-snap-ebt/#comment-370243

    • George A: that sounds like a socialist mindset, full of envy of those fatcats living off your hard work. It seems sad to me you feel so much rage, when you’re not even smart enough or willing to work hard enough to be above the middle class.

    • @Anonymous, any employee who makes a honest living and doesn’t get outraged after seeing his/her paystub is either: a) living on entitled welfare benefit and has no worries or b) inherited enough income and not needing a paystub.

      If you are on (a) congratulation, you are way smarter then all of us, at least on this blog, if you are on (b) congratulation, but based on @Mike, you are spitting on all of us and even Mike.

    • George A: or (c) earns a decent living and doesn’t mind contributing to a functioning society rather than living in a Max Max hellscape.

    • Australian Anon: Thanks for your comment and for Mad Max! Part of the issue with U.S. taxation is that quite a few of our cities are actually a Mad Max hellscape or at least a zombie film (get anywhere near the Bay Bridge ramps in San Francisco and see the zombie army of the unhoused). When you pay taxes in Geneva or Shanghai the return on investment is very different than when you pay taxes in Baltimore, Detroit, St. Louis, etc. I don’t mind paying taxes here in Palm Beach County because the money is used to build spectacular infrastructure, maintain luxurious parks with clean restrooms, fund gifted and talented programs in the public schools, and other things that I enjoy having. Taxation is much higher in New York (see https://taxfoundation.org/state/new-york/ ) and what taxpayers receive in return is much worse.

      In Maskachusetts, George is paying for a lot of stuff that he doesn’t value. Diversity and inclusion programs for every government agency. Transgender surgery for teenagers on Medicaid (see https://www.mass.gov/gender-affirming-care-for-masshealth-members ). Multiple generations of welfare for families that contain able-bodied individuals who could put down the Xbox controller and work if they had to.

    • @Anonymous, looks like you are in group (c) that I did not know exist anymore!

      It looks like this group that you are in is earning a decent living and most importantly they don’t vomit when they see their paystub keeps shrinking and shrinking and thanks to inflation, soon what’s left of the paystub will be enough to buy a box of COVIDMask.

      I congratulate you for not vomiting and keeping your sanity when you see your paystub. Now, rather than telling others to keep contributing more and even more out of their hard earned money to group (a), why don’t you tell group (a) to move off welfare and stop using those programs as if they are “entitled” to them?

    • George: The typical American’s taxes are increasing, I think, in less visible ways. Instead of higher rates being applied to the paycheck, for example, there will be a higher property tax bill once per year (renters will pay this higher tax indirectly).

    • @Philip, I know. If one includes all other taxes and fees middle class Americans pay to our government — and I’m leaving out essential living expanses such as heating your home, paying utility bills, transportation, et. al. — in America a family of 4, making $200K a year is a family living pay-check-to-pay-check and cannot afford to live in a big city like Boston, NYC or LA to name some.

      I don’t know how our friend Anonymous in Australia doesn’t vomit when he/she sees his/her paystub. That’s why I assumed he/she is either in group (a) or (b) unless Australians pay far, far less overall taxes then us Americans. Do they? I have no time or care to research this because I don’t live in Australia.

    • Australians pay tax at lower rates than the Righteous among us. https://www.heritage.org/index/country/australia says “The top individual income tax rate is 45 percent … The overall tax burden equals 28.7 percent of total domestic income. Government spending has amounted to 40.2 percent of total output (GDP) over the past three years”. Someone who lives in California or New York City would pay individual income tax at a higher rate. Australia has no estate or inheritance taxes, so that’s way better than the U.S., especially Maskachusetts, for rich people.

      https://www.heritage.org/index/country/unitedstates says “Government spending has amounted to 38.9 percent of total output (GDP) over the past three years” but in Australia government spending includes all health care. So Australians spend far less on government, as a percentage of GDP.

  4. Perhaps an alternative pricing plan could simply be $25 on weekends and $2 on weekdays. Wouldn’t that pretty much accomplish the same thing?

  5. I would think that SNAP is still the better way. Some comment suggested people living on flour alone at .35 a pound. We will then pay the much larger medicaid bill when those people get sick from such a diet.

    I find some calculation questionable but I haven’t looked into this much. CBPP says the average SNAP family got 240/month in 2019 & 2020. CATO’s estimate in 2013 gives their hypothetical family 526/month. There is probably a tradeoff but CATO might put the welfare a bit too high/assume the hypothetical family too good at exploiting the system.

    • I don’t think that the $240/month average number is inconsistent with the CATO data. https://www.masslegalhelp.org/income-benefits/food-stamps/advocacy-guide/part3-financial-eligibility says that only those who refrain from W-2/1099 work will get the maximum benefit (i.e., there is a sliding scale based on income that was unwisely reported to the IRS). CATO assumes a person who spends all of his/her/zir/their time playing Xbox and watching TV (or working at a cash job). But I think that your larger point is valid. The U.S. welfare state creates tremendous inequality. The people who are smart and organized about getting benefits could be in a $1 million apartment in a great city while those who are not as capable will be on a 10-year waiting list and receiving nothing other than Medicaid, SNAP/EBT, and Obamaphone.

    • @An anon, you are looking at this from the narrow perspective of SNAP only. Those who are on SNAP they also have a slew of other benefits that they get: SSI, housing, utilities, medical, and the list goes on and on.

      I honestly don’t have any object to ANY of those programs. Anyone of us sooner or later could be in a dire situation and will need some sort of help. All those welfare programs are there to lift us up from those dire situation so we are back on your feet. My issue is when the so called “poor” and “hungry” Americans stay on those programs indefinitely, ripping every-single-benefit or part of benefits and THEN see those programs as an entitlement.

    • @George A sir:

      you make an excellent point. I was reading about Jan koum (co-founder of WhatsApp) – he was a Ukrainian immigrant who used to be on stamps.
      Raised himself out of it & eventually became a billionaire when he sold his company to Facebook.
      He even made a hefty donation to the FreeBSD foundation among others.

      quite an inspiring story. ironically though, he was quite criticized at some point because he was being perceived as supporting orange man’s policies (& pro-Israel comments).

  6. Pres. Biden recently announced another new entitlement for low income US residents – the Affordability Connectivity Program (ACP), will pay up to $30 per month toward home or mobile internet service (including hotspot service and cellular phone connectivity). (This program is different from and, apparently, in addition to the Lifeline Assistance obmaphone program.)

    My early-retiree father lives in and outright owns a waterfront 5 b/r, 3000sf, $1 million FL home, and due to his low taxable income qualified to receive the $30 benefit for a hotspot device with unlimited data.


  7. Are there many (or any) SNAP/EBT recipients going to museums?

    Or is it just pearl clutching by rich people choosing to fly in planes much less comfortable than an old car?

    • davep: If the SNAP/EBT beneficiary is not inclined toward museums and botanical gardens, he/she/ze/they can stay home and watch Amazon Prime streaming all day at a more-than-50-percent discount (see https://www.amazon.com/58f8026f-0658-47d0-9752-f6fa2c69b2e2/qualify ).

      Here is a list of 268 products and services that are free or discounted for SNAP/EBT cardholders in Maskachusetts: https://lowincomerelief.com/ma-food-stamps/

      Separately, the CATO analysis (https://www.cato.org/sites/cato.org/files/pubs/pdf/the_work_versus_welfare_trade-off_2013_wp.pdf ) is not about “rich” versus welfare brothers, sisters, and binary-resisters. CATO compares welfare recipient spending power to what those earning at the median (and paying taxes!) can spend (but with no value assigned to the welfare recipient’s 50 hours per week of additional leisure time (40 hours of work plus 10 hours commuting)).

      As noted in the original post, “Paying $60 rather than $6 for our little group won’t change my lifestyle but I wonder how seeing stuff like this every day makes middle class taxpayers (“the chumps”) feel.” So the comments answer my question, I think. Envy of the rich is so strong right now, at least among Democrats, that middle-income working slave taxpayers haven’t noticed their non-working brothers, sisters, and binary-resisters catching up to them in spending power over the past few decades of welfare enhancements. Bringing it down to the domestic level, imagine having a brother-in-law permanently occupying your guest room playing Xbox and watching TV all day while you go to work to pay for his food, health care, and Internet. You’re funding 100% of his leisure-rich lifestyle. But all that you can think of is how the plastic surgeon up the street is richer than you, even though she is actually funding your lifestyle (since she will pay much more in tax than you will).

  8. PG: As noted in the original post, “Paying $60 rather than $6 for our little group won’t change my lifestyle but I wonder how seeing stuff like this every day makes middle class taxpayers (“the chumps”) feel.”

    In other countries, “middle class taxpayers” might have bigger things to worry about. (The murder rate in Brazil is about 30/100k; in South Africa, it’s about 65/100k; in the US, it’s about 6/100k. Of course, there’s a wide variability.)

    Maybe, getting a discount on Amazon is a small price to pay. I doubt many “middle class taxpayers” are going to see this discount as worth going on EBT for.

    • I think you are supporting @averros’ point comparing taxation to armed robbery. I do not think that’s how America developed.

  9. I’m sure people on SNAP would take jobs at Burisma (Hunter Biden), Gazprom (Gerhard Schroeder, after destroying the welfare state in Germany!) or get stock tips from Nancy Pelosi.

    Then they could sit in their climate-change endangered houses [1] in Martha’s Vineyard and be proper champagne socialists on Twitter all day long. In Europe they could also fly on subsidized private jet fuel, which is approved by the same people that tell the proletariat to save energy.

    [1] Dykes will be built by the government of course.

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