Thursday, May 10, 2012

Mistrusting the Poor, by Betty Reid Mandell

The Massachusetts legislature has decided that the poor can’t be trusted with money, and a legislative commission has considered not allowing recipients of food stamps (now called SNAP, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) and recipients of welfare (TAFDC) to use cash for any of their purchases (such as paying the rent), and issuing vouchers instead.

The legislature has already passed a law that doesn’t allow people who receive cash on their Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards to pay for liquor, lottery tickets, casinos, or strip clubs. They are worried about people using Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards in other states, even though SNAP is a federal program administered by the United States Department of Agriculture and EBT cards can be used in all states. In order to avoid stigmatizing food stamp recipients, USDA said that an EBT card should be no different than any other credit card.