There’s only one correct answer to the question, “What are poor people buying with their food stamps and welfare checks?” None of your goddamn business. People using social services still have human dignity and a right to privacy and they have just as much right to keep their shopping habits secret as anyone else. This right does not and should not disappear just became a bunch of haughty dipshits think it’s their duty to go snooping around SNAP recipient shopping carts searching for the proverbial steak and lobster or, gasp, maybe a six-pack of beer to get through a rough day or bag of candy to make the children happy.
The welfare queen filling up the back seat of her Cadillac with beer and cigarettes is an urban legend, a gross stereotype, invented by St. Ronnie that takes the very real problem of welfare and food stamp fraud to a crass exaggeration and extrapolates it onto the vast majority of social service recipients who use the system ethically and, yes, have jobs that sadly don’t pay enough to support or feed them. The SNAP recipient with a shopping cart full of steak and lobster is a convenient scapegoat used to hide the real issue driving Tea Partiers, libertarians, and other idiot free market absolutists: They think they own poor people. Yes, they really do!
This is because Teabaggers imagine themselves as industrious John Galts,* lifting themselves up by their bootstraps (“No one gave me any handouts!”), doing everything alone. These self-imagined self-made men—who drive on government funded roads, enjoy the protection of government funded police, get the benefit of government funded public libraries and parks, and send their kids to government funded public schools, or, if not, send them to private schools that still offer government funded textbooks and school bus rides—start crying when the tax man comes; it’s Uncle Sam stealing “My money!” and spending “My money!” on those dirty lazy poor people. You can see this attitude in obnoxious Facebook pages with titles like, “If you have enough money for beer, you don’t need food stamps,” as if poverty is a personal failing rather than a systemic problem, as if the destitute should only get just enough to live on so they can see how very very bad they’ve been (and how grateful they should be to get crumbs from the upper class). In the eyes of Teabaggers, the poor must live a life of monk-like austerity to prove worthy of not starving as a penance for using Teabagger tax money; if a poor person buys one beer to take his mind off of life’s struggles, he’s a naughty naughty profligate!
*Oh, if anyone is asking, who is John Galt? He’s a second rate character in a third rate novel by a fourth rate philosopher whose ideas somehow keep showing up in the masturbatory fantasies of self-imagined self-made men. He’s also a metaphor for the self-made man that doesn’t exist.
And the dumbest part is the Teabaggers are throwing their anger at the wrong people! If they had half a brain, they’d be joining Occupy Wall Street and going after the real welfare abusers, not SNAP recipients, but TARP takers. Turns out, there IS a strong social safety net for some people in this country. If you’re a rich Wall Street investment banker, you can intentionally give out shoddy loans to people who can’t afford them, lie and get Standard & Poor and Moody’s to give those subprime mortgages AAA ratings so those shit loans can be passed on to investment bundles often made up of middle class retirement funds, buy collateralized debt obligations to collect windfalls when those bad mortgages do go belly up, and then, thanks to the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), get welfare in the form of a multi-billion dollar government bailout because, unlike those middle class suckers who lost their savings through your intentionally shoddy investment packages and now must beg for food stamps while getting looked down upon by self-made John Galtian Teabaggers for buying the occasional beer, you’re in charge of gobs of (mostly other people’s) capital at your investment bank and thus Too Big To Fail. But, no, let’s not throw those Wall Street assholes in jail for ruining the country because we’re too busy looking down on poor people who drink beer for trying to get some semblance of joy out of life, as if we are employed and they aren’t simply out of hard work and not the vagaries of life circumstance!