Food stamps pose problem of dependency

Thanksgiving is a time to give thanks for the many blessings that we are afforded each day and to spend quality time with loved ones. The last thing I would want to be thinking about is whether or not I can pay for a delicious meal.

Unfortunately, for many Americans struggling in this economy, that is exactly what they do have to worry about.

According to the Sunlight Foundation, “More Americans are using food stamps to help buy the basics this Thanksgiving than ever before.”

According to the business news website Bloomberg, there are currently 46 million Americans on food stamps; I find that fact heartbreaking.

I believe that the American dream means that  each individual has the ability to sustain him or herself and live independently, not on government handouts. As a college student, I know that is something I want to achieve after graduation.

It’s a sad reality that many people today do not have the ability to live this way, for a wide variety of reasons. The economic downturn has only made matters worse.

I would love to live in a society where food stamps don’t exist, simply because they don’t have to. This would mean a society where the economy is consistently growing, and when people struggle to get by, community members and non-governmental institutions (such as the Church) step up to help their neighbors through the tough times.

Of course, we are a long way away from being able to live like this. However, I believe that we can achieve that, or at least maintain these programs as the last resort.

The most important step is to get the economy roaring again. If the unemployment rate continues to linger just below eight percent, we will never get there. I believe Ronald Reagan explains it perfectly when he said, “I think the best possible social welfare program is a job.”

I wholeheartedly agree with that quote. Getting a job is the only way people can pull themselves up out of poverty; government handouts simply cannot do that. One of the primary ways to measure the growth of the economy is through gross domestic product (GDP).

According to Investopedia, GDP measures “the monetary value of all the finished goods and services produced within a country’s borders in a specific time period.” It consists of four parts: consumer spending, government spending, investments and net exports.

According to Forbes, 70 percent of GDP consists of consumer spending, which is why we must stimulate spending. One of the most effective ways to get consumers spending again is through tax cuts.

According to Mike Patton at Forbes, “individuals will have more money in their pockets to spend, save, or pay down debt.”

As they spend more, it works as a ripple effect throughout the economy, and that money will continue being spent. In turn, this will create more jobs.

Once we create more jobs, we can impose stricter working requirements on food stamps for non-elderly, able-bodied people.

This will ensure that people are actually trying to live independently from the government, rather than becoming completely dependent.

I firmly believe that we can, as a country, significantly decrease the number of people who require food stamps as a means of getting by, through working together and stimulating the economy.

Lindsey Hubbart Columnist

Hubbart is a sophomore majoring in economics. Comments can be sent to lhubbart15@my.whitworth.edu.