In order to put the severity of the issue in context, if who received the benefit represented a country, it would be the 27th largest nation in the world. There are 11 states in which one in five are receiving benefits (figure 1). While some contend that number in increasing because of fraud, the Department of Agriculture based on a study of electronic purchase tracking stated that 96% of revenues have been spent as per program guidelines.
|Figure 1 - Percentage of Americans on 'Food Stamps' By State|
Perhaps the most telling argument was written by Bill Schiller in the Toronto Star. In his article he notes the following,
In the first minutes of each month, food stamp purchases at 24-hour Wal-Marts across the country surge as Food Stamp Nation drives through the dark to purchase sorely needed food.
“Our sales for those first few hours on the first day of the month are substantially and significantly higher,” Wal-Mart CEO William S. Simon told a Goldman Sachs conference 18 months ago. “If you really think about it, the only reason somebody goes out in the middle of the night and buys baby formula is that they need it — and they’ve been waiting for it.”
No matter what your political affiliation, when a nation as wealthy as the USA has 15% of its population is on a social assistance program due to poverty, perhaps there needs to be a reexamination of the system.
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