Food-Stamp Companies

Newt Gingrich openly called President Obama the ‘Food-Stamp President’ earlier this year when discussing the economic crisis and middle-class crush. Throughout all the blowhard meandering, his intent was to cast the Obama base as dependent and idle, a sentiment oft-shared by many far right conservatives. The GOP often uses such (bigoted) code-language to discredit the values and wants of a vast majority of Democrats that do not wish to return to business as usual on Capitol Hill. Why, we liberals couldn’t possibly be interested in equal pay for women, gay rights, a full military withdrawal from the middle east, bank regulation and education. No, we just like Obama because he gives us free stuff. Oh and he’s just really cool.

In June, Leslie Marshall– a nationally syndicated talk-show radio host and Fox *gasp* News contributor– reported that more Americans signed up for food stamps under Bush.

I had to laugh…or perhaps I should have cried. Sure, there are lots of Americans who partake of what the government has to offer. Sure we, especially the right, can blame President Barack Obama. But there are a few realities I want to point out:

1. More people signed up for food stamps under President George W. Bush than President Obama.

via America Is Less Dependent Under Barack Obama – Leslie Marshall (usnews.com).

A touch misleading perhaps, since Bush had eight whole years to rack up the debt and help crash our economy with the war on Iraq. Personally I would be surprised if her data were entirely accurate, with the understanding that recessions tend to create desperate aggregate need. The country was hemorrhaging jobs when @BarackObama took office– people from all backgrounds applied for some assistance. Causality, my friends.

I am really not here to talk about Newts but of companies that reduce overhead costs by hiring part-time workers and contribute to the problematic surge in applied-for government assistance. Over the last decade the involuntary part-time workforce has exploded. Involuntary because these workers prefer full-time employment. So why is this, you might ask? Well its cheaper for starters. Not as cheap as sending your job overseas where CEOs can get the most bang for a buck but cheap. Part-time workers are generally paid less than their full-time counterparts and do not always receive medical, vacation or sick time packages. And they can forget about workers compensation and retirement benefits. These employees then must rely upon government programs such as SNAP (food stamps), TANF and Medicaid at the expense of John and Jane Taxpayer.

So here I am, stuck within the part-time trap. Even with my accumulated skills and experience, I was hired in May to work as a Merchandise Associate at a popular, multimillion dollar retail store for 8.60 hourly. The orientation session consisted of a few pamphlets read and videos played on a dilapidated VCR. I stifled a giggle or two when a segment began with a very stern woman launching into a passionate lecture on the evils of unions and when to alert a supervisor if contacted by their representatives. Organized labor is bad. Bad! Bored and lazily nursing a water bottle, my eyes roamed the tiny break room as I planned future lunch breaks and escapes from the sales floor. I noticed a poster on a bulletin board announcing the national 800 number for SNAP assistance. In 30 minutes I had learned all I needed to know about this company:

1. If any associate attempts to support a unionized effort within any of their stores, your ass is grass.

2. We are not going to hire you full-time so that you can actually take care of yourself and pay your bills.

3. Apply for food stamps because we ain’t feeding ya.

Sounds like Walmart.

I quit after a few short months. Not that I didn’t need the money. I didn’t need the headache. I found it more advantageous to spend the time I would have toiled within their slave-shop of a store to look for a better job, however difficult. I have been working at part-time jobs for about 5 years now and it has been the same thing time and time again. My educated guess would be that many part-time workers are ticked off, as I am. We are not sitting around waiting for a handout. We are being forced to take jobs with companies that are doing well in spite of the economy but won’t offer living wages, utilize scare tactics and encourage their employees to apply for government assistance to supplement their needs. Food-stamp companies. It is wrong and it is disgusting.

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