Our Money Hard At Work

manykidsSo I’m in line at my local supermarket… and I feel like John Rocker on New York’s Number 7 train. There were strange and exotic specimens littered– I mean literally all over. Even the clerk looked like a crackhead. All in all, though, they seemed to be fairly straight shooters so I’m not going to cast my judgment on anyone…

…except…

…there was this one lady in front of me. She had to get checked out at the cash register twice. Why you ask? Well, the first time was for all the junk food that she paid for with her WIC vouchers (which of course comes from taxes out of my paycheck)… and the second time was to buy a National Enquirer and two boxes of cigarettes with a huge wad of cash!

From the WIC website:

The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children – better known as the WIC Program – serves to safeguard the health of low-income women, infants, & children up to age 5 who are at nutritional risk by providing nutritious foods to supplement diets, information on healthy eating, and referrals to health care.

Can you believe this? About the only nutritious thing I saw her get was a carton of eggs, and the rest was a sugar-feast capable of reanimating a dead elephant. And I paid for it because she was “at nutritional risk”? First of all, she didn’t look at nutritional risk. Second, how the heck are my tax dollars supposed to be “providing nutritional foods” when the recipient lacks the requisite common sense to buy nutritious food in the first place? I don’t understand the part where my money needs to get involved.

And the best part of it all was when I saw her, with her manicured hands and gaudy custom painted nails (the expensive kind), reach past her cellphone into her pocket to produce a wad of greenbacks nearly the size of a toilet paper roll (like you see pulled off drug dealers on cop shows)… to buy a friggin’ National Enquirer and two boxes of cigarettes! It was like being stuck in the Politically Correct Twilight Zone.

u comment i follow 19 Comments

  1. Posted May 7, 2006 at 5:46 am | Permalink

    05 06 06

    Hey Steve:
    Glad to see you around with a wit that always gets me going!!! I feel you totally! In the town where I live, we have only a 78% high school graduation rate and a 14% college graduation rate (includes AA degrees). Hence, there are many people who either work three low wage jobs or work one job or no jobs and take public assistance. I always trip out when the people are wearing designer clothes, have their hair done in over $150.00 styles and so forth. Well this takes the cake:
    The other day I was in San Francisco and this bum asked me if I would walk him to the hot dog stand. I asked him why he couldn’t go himself. His response was that he didn’t have enough money, although I saw at least $2.50 in his hand. He told me that the hot dogs cost $5.00, then corrected and said $4.25. I said five dollars or so for a hot dog? That is ridiculous! I am sorry, but I cannot support you. Oh, here is a quarter I hope it helps. He told me that it wouldn’t help him and harassed me for more money. I blew up in the middle of Market Street and Fourth and said: “What?!!! I don’t owe you anything! Get out of my face and leave me alone!!!”

    Funny that, I bailed as quickly as possible, but was pissed at his audacity! This is the problem with the entitlement mentality.

    I will cite your post for my Monday one. I have taken a blogging break, but am slowly returning. I hope you have a great rest of weekend and take care:)

  2. Posted May 8, 2006 at 8:35 pm | Permalink

    Thanks, Mahndisa! It’s always nice to have you stop by and share your insights.

    I remember once when a deaf beggar was handing out those little cards that say “Hello, I’m deaf. [Give me money]” and have the alphabet in sign on the back. Well, the deaf guy gave it to everyone in hte subway car, including a deaf businesswoman on her way to work… who proceeded to blast the bum him up one side and down the other… IN SIGN!

    In Baltimore some guy at the harbor handed me one (with the $1 crossed off to say $2) and when I said no his smile turned to a fit of rage and he snatched it away from me and gave me the slit-throat hand motion as he walked away. Ha… that just affirmed I was right not to give him anything.

    Actually, giving cash to bums is about the worst thing you could do for them… really. There’s no love in it… it’s false compassion that hurts them more than anything.

  3. Tara
    Posted May 9, 2006 at 9:23 pm | Permalink

    Hey Steve,

    Yeah, it sucks seeing the system abused. My mother was a social worker in the 70′s (pre-WIC) and she developed her own cooking classes to teach low-income women how to prepare healthy meals with the rations they received from the government (welfare recipients would get rations of staples like cheese, flour, eggs, etc.). It would be interesting to go back to that kind of system. It is by far cheaper to cook from scratch than to buy junk food and convenience food like boxed meals (Hamburger Helper, Mac and Cheese), frozen meals, cereal, etc.

    Some of us moms @ Terra Nova have read a book called “Miserly Moms” which gives a lot of good ideas on how to live on one income. Part of being frugal, according to the author, is cooking inexpensively. See http://www.miserlymoms.com/MOMfrecipes1.htm for what she’s talking about. This book should be required reading for those on WIC!

  4. Posted May 9, 2006 at 9:47 pm | Permalink

    Thanks, Tara! I’ll have my wife check that site out. Even though we don’t have to, my wife likes to be frugal… I think it’s her heart for being a good steward of what we have.

    And doesn’t that figure? Those who don’t need to do… and those who need to don’t. :-)

    Hey… she also loves this site: http://www.mommysavers.com/

  5. Botox Chicago
    Posted May 20, 2008 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

    “the first time was for all the junk food that she paid for with her WIC vouchers”

    I definitely agree that this isn’t right and these people should be held accountable for what they use these coupons on…

  6. Margaret
    Posted June 18, 2008 at 8:07 pm | Permalink

    I think you may have been confused when in line behind this lady. I am an employee for WIC and WIC checks only allow women to purchase food that is rich in important nutrients for growth during childhood an pregnancy (vitamin a,c, folate, iron). Milk, cheese, carrots, beans, 100% juice, tuna, peanut butter, etc. These checks do not work for anything but these foods and that have to be the cheapest versions available at the store.

    She was probably using food stamps, which i do agree needs to be reformed. Currently people on food stamps do not participate in nutrition counseling and are allowed to purchase whatever they would like.

    Wic is a good program and has been proven to save the taxpayer money while improving the health of low income women and children. For every $1 spent on WIC, it equates to $2-$4 in savings for medicaid on the treatment of premature births, anemia, and other nutritional problems.

  7. Posted June 20, 2008 at 10:35 pm | Permalink

    @Margaret
    The reason I knew she was using WIC was because she handed something to the cashier that wasn’t cash… and the cashier asked “Is this WIC?”, and the lady responded “Yeah.”

    The food she was buying wasn’t the “worst” but it was still junk to me… sugar drinks (the kind with no nutritional value), chips, and assorted snack foods (I don’t remember exactly now because it’s been a while).

    And she had a wad of cash to pay for cigarettes… and she had her nails done and a fancy cellphone, which means that she has extra money to blow… which means that in her case WIC is merely enabling her to spend cash on extras. It’s ridiculous for taxes to go for Asian nail salons and top-of-the-line electronics in the name of “nutritional risk”.

    I wouldn’t pull the WIC program entirely… but I would establish accountability. It’s lacking. Same for medicaid.

  8. Elaine
    Posted July 10, 2008 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

    I found your story interesting. I realize this is an old entry, but I found it when I was searching to see how people feel about using the WIC program. I began using WIC two days ago and since I felt like I needed to completely disinfect myself after I left the WIC office for the first time, I have formed a pretty terrible opinion about the type of people who generally use the program. I, however, am not prepared to become one of them and as I was leaving the office I was telling myself I would never go back. Never.

    Having said that, the part of your story that I found interesting is that you said she was buying chips, snack foods, and sugar drinks. Since I just went to that first WIC appointment, the one where you learn “the rules”, I know for a fact that it is impossible to buy chips, snack foods, or sugar drinks. The vouchers clearly state exactly what the recipient is allowed to purchase. The list includes 2 gallons of white milk, 1 18-oz jar of peanut butter, 1 dozen of eggs, 1 lb. of cheese (block, shredded, or string only), 2 46-oz. containers of 100% fruit juice (Juicy Juice, Welch’s Grape Juice), and 36 oz. of unsweetened cereal like Rice Crispies, Kix, Cheerios, Life, Grape Nuts or Corn Flakes.

    I suppose the store that you were shopping in could have been relaxed in how they handle the WIC checkouts, but the cashiers are supposed to make sure the purchases are allowable by WIC. In fact, a manager is supposed to review and approve all WIC purchases before the cashier is allowed to accept the check as tender. But who knows what was going on at that particular store? If those items were in fact what she was purchasing, that is exactly the reason I refuse to be lumped in with the rest of the WIC-using [abusing] women.

    The unfortunate thing about all of this is that my husband and I both work and actually earn a decent income, it’s just not quite as much as it used to be since the cost of living has gone up so drastically over the past coule of years and we could really use the assistance WIC provides in buying formula for our baby.

  9. Posted July 12, 2008 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

    @Elaine
    Thanks for stopping by. You educated me on some of teh specifics of the program I didn’t know. It definitely appears then that the system is being abused.

    Although, I don’t think that I agree that cashiers at supermarkets should be handed the responsibility of “nutrition-cop”. Perhaps only certain SKU numbers of items should be valid for WIC purchases… the store could color the on-shelf price tags differently so WIC folks could see what was appropriate or not… and then the cash register would only allow WIC to purchase the correct items.

    But that still wouldn’t stop this lady, with her fancy nails and cellphone, from pulling out a wad of cash to buy cigarettes and a Nat’l Enquirer.

    If anyone’s wondering, the supermarket from this post was either Hannaford or Price Chopper in Latham, NY. (we go to both so I forget which it was)

  10. Eliiii
    Posted February 19, 2011 at 7:03 pm | Permalink

    Hey, well, as some people have already cleared up that you really can’t buy anything but the listed foods and in that amount. It’s funny you should say:

    “Perhaps only certain SKU numbers of items should be valid for WIC purchases… the store could color the on-shelf price tags differently so WIC folks could see what was appropriate or not… and then the cash register would only allow WIC to purchase the correct items.”

    I know this was a while ago, but I’m almost sure that it’s been like this for at least 10 years (when my sister was born). What I do know for a fact, though, is that this is exactly how it is now. I can honestly say that they are extremely strict when it comes to the food, it has to be an exact brand, an exact serving, etc etc.

    I understand your point of views, I can definitely see where you’re coming from because if I was in your same situation I would probably see it the same way. I come from a home where WIC (which doesn’t supply much) and Food Stamps are extremely necessary. Every time terms or sayings like “WIC-using [abusing] women” are said it hurts and bothers me a little on the inside, even though it shouldn’t because I know it’s not your fault since this is all you see. So i don’t blame you(: But, I do know that there are some women out there, some families out there… in here; that without these welfare programs would actually be in “nutritional risk.” Or maybe without food stamp we would have still eaten but we wouldn’t have paid the bills. Either way, we would be lacking life’s necessities, lacking our human rights. When I see political cartoons like those, it saddens me that this is how Americans actually picture women on government aid. No, my mom was not/ is not, a teenage mother. No, she didn’t have eight children. No, she didn’t go around having sex. And no she never had polished nails, had merely bus fare on her, and didn’t smoke, drink, etc. She was alone, in a country that was not her own, with a language she did not know, with two little girls to take care of after a lying, cheating, abusing husband (a doctor!). You’re going to tell me that it was her fault?! Even if it was, your gonna tell me that two little girls had to pay for adult errors?! I don’t think so.

    Woah, I’m sorry, i just went off a cinch. My mom and I look a those women in disappointment, because we know that there truly is necessity in this country, and they do their nails?! I completely agree with you on that there should be more verification on welfare, social workers should pay spontaneous visits, things like this should be brought on spot light. On the other hand, I disagree with labeling all welfare users under one generic stereotype.
    Blessings, a fellow cynic

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One Trackback

  1. By Negative99 » Freedom and Obesity on February 17, 2008 at 6:16 pm

    [...] obese AND collecting public assistance. I’ve covered this before including the sometimes non-usefulness of WIC. For instance, does it make any sense to give food stamps to obese people? Okay, there could be [...]

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