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The Future Is Here: Florida Wants Welfare For the Rich While Punishing the Poor

| January 29, 2016

food stamps florida the future is here

When it comes to the poor, Florida does nothing as gladly as it does for business. (Franklin Roosevelt Library)

Note: Earlier today, Enterprise Florida, the state’s public-private economic development agency,launched a $10 million global advertising campaign, at taxpayers’ expense, branded “Florida–The Future Is Here.” The campaign preserves the message of its previous incarnation under the banner of “Florida–the perfect climate for business” while re-emphasizing the state’s focus on business friendliness.

By Chris Timmons

Raise your hand if you ever had an EBT card, or that is, been on food stamps. Whew! I am not alone.


In 2012, I was let go from a job I held for six years.

The economy was still recovering from the Great Recession, and being a working class fellow with no higher education (technically, just a ninth- grade education), I was a stellar candidate for a difficult road ahead.

Never having the inclination to use food stamps, even with a collision or two with homelessness before 2012, I submitted to the government Leviathan this time around.

It did not make me feel like a moocher. It did not emasculate me. It did not make me dependent.

When I found a job two months later, I stopped using the stamps. Simple as that.

Around that time, a record 44 million Americans were using food stamps. We all were in a rut. An aberration: a fair amount of those Americans were white, middle-class. The Silent Majority.

Now, again, food stamps are back in the news.

That’s because President Barack Obama, who made a remark in his State of the Union speech that is now a popular “meme” on the Internet: “Food stamp recipients did not cause the financial crisis. Recklessness on Wall Street did.”

Damn, right!

context floridaBut now there is an effort afoot to return to the impossible standards of the 1996 welfare-to-work law (technically titled: “The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act of 1996”).

Since early January, those able-bodied citizens (between the ages of 18 and 49) without children in 22 states can no longer sit on their duff (or some such canard about the poor) and receive unlimited assistance from the government.

In 2009, the federal government allowed states to waive the requirements of that 1996 law due to the recession.

The change means food stamp recipients will have to work 80 hours per month, or be in a work-training program for 80 hours per month in order to receive food stamps beyond a probationary three-month period.

One of those states is Florida.

This is the same state with a governor who has proposed giving big corporations “incentives” to bring jobs to the state. Most of us call this corporate welfare.

The governor wants the Legislature to approve $250 million to be used by the state’s largest welfare dispensary, outside of the Florida Department of Children and Families, called Enterprise Florida.

Notice the first part of that name: “Enterprise.”

According to the Webster Merriam dictionary, “enterprise” can mean “a unit of economic organization or activity” or “a systematic purposeful activity.”

So there we have it, Florida’s economy, as seen by Gov. Rick Scott, is organized around the activity of corporate titans (and their money: Super PACs need funding, you know). Let’s not forget his $1 billion in proposed tax cuts for these same corporations.

Yet the people recovering from the second greatest economic downturn in American history are snubbed by their government.

Whatever happened to “government of, by, and for the people”?

No, this is the age of economic sloganeering: “Let’s Get to Work!”

(It should be added: “Or Else!”)

Now back to the president’s statement: “Food stamp recipients did not cause the financial crisis. Recklessness on Wall Street did.”

So why punish the people getting food stamps? Why punish them?

Over to you, Rick Scott.

Chris Timmons is a native Floridian, columnist, and a fellow with the James Madison Institute.

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29 Responses for “The Future Is Here: Florida Wants Welfare For the Rich While Punishing the Poor”

  1. Jon Hardison says:

    Preach! It’s amazing how many times i’ve found myself discussing this very same issue, in one way or another, this week. It is as if being ‘down on your luck’ grants others license to turn on you. For what?!?
    We all fall regardless of our backgrounds and we all benefit in catching our neighbors when they stumble.
    For every terrible “moocher” story we hear there are a thousand stories of recovery and subsequent success. Stories no one will ever tell because of the stigma associated with ever having fallen at all.
    Good for you Mr. Timmons. We should all be so grounded.

  2. Sherry says:

    Excellent “first person” article! Not every person needing a helping hand from our citizens is a low life, lazy person who doesn’t ever want to work.

    Our governor’s “corporate welfare” to entities like incredibly profitable sports teams, is an outrageous swindle of our tax payers! Yet, certain media outlets continue to drum up bigotry and blame against those who are already struggling and ignore the billions of tax dollars that go to support the 1% billionaires in our country!

  3. Vincent Neri says:

    The problem stems from how able bodied is defined. For the purposes of establishing the term disabled with the state or federal government one must be one hundred percent disabled. This is 2016 and it is hard to believe that the state and federal government do not recognize the limitations of partial disability along with the work challenges that that may present. My challenge to the federal government and state is that if a person cannot pass a physical where the doctor states that that person is in perfect health then how are they one hundred percent well. As a country we have neglected people with disabilities by redefining what qualifies as a recognized disability. Their answer is your conditions may provide challenges to you working but you do not qualify for any benefits because under our rules you are not 100 percent disabled. Now since you cannot get medicaid then you are not exempt from the work standards of the food program and are not entitled to medicaid or social security disability.. It is interesting how this policy has been allowed to go on for so long leaving alot of people to suffer due to an ignorant myopic system.

  4. R Gross says:

    I personally see nothing wrong with expecting those that can work, work for the benefits that they receive. Those providing the tax dollars to pay these benefits have to work. They also should be required to take a drug test. Once again those of us who work and pay the taxes used for these benefits are required to take drug tests. I agree with the previous responders who have stated that the definitions need to be clarified as to what able bodied is. That being said, someone who cannot lift heavy loads or stand for long periods could certainly do a job where they were sitting down at a desk for their workdays.

    We have got to break this thought process that we should without question or expectation give everyone food stamps/EBT cards, or subsidized housing, free cell phones….hell why would you want to work if you can get all that for free.

    I applaud the individual who stated that after finding a job 2 months later, he stopped using these benefits…on the other hand he also pointed out that he had dropped out of school and did not have the educational background that may have provided for more secure employment, or a faster process of finding a new job.

    I think that we all are aware of the need for this higher education, and to not pursue it is a bad decision. So the fact is then that those of us that have made better choices are responsible for everyone elses bad choices.

    Look, I too dropped out of school after the 9th grade, but I made a decision to do something about it. Everyone has the opportunity to go to college…I can’t afford college…..well guess what neither could I, but I did what millions of other do..I got student loans, and bought used books and worked my butt off, so that I could have a better life…and for all of that I get to pay for those that just didn’t want to put in the effort….didn’t want to spend the money for a higher education.

    I understand that there are many that do not fit the descriptions that I have stated here. These individuals do need assistance and I have no problem with that. We all know there is an entire population segment out there that have just chosen to work the system as their “job” and we allow it to happen.

  5. groot says:

    A little bit of information causes disinformation. My guess is this effect ABAWDS. The term Able-bodied Adults Without Dependents (ABAWDs) refers to low income working adults in the United States who do not have dependents. The 1996 welfare law (P.L. 104-193) set categorical requirements for food stamp participation. So, what’s the problem with that? Go work off your benefits.

  6. WSM says:

    They are not being punished. They are being made to work or train themselves to gain the skills to work. Do you think it’s ok to just sit back and do nothing and U.S. Tax payers just keep footing the bill? Drug test should be incorporated as well, enough of this liberal society

  7. BeachcomberT says:

    Even worse, you typically have to be unemployed for at least a year before Social Security will even consider your disability application. No one explains how you are supposed to pay for food and shelter without a job or some form of assistance. Another problem is that it requires a computer to apply for Food Stamps and SSI, or do most forms of job-searching. Many low income people lack computers and the skill to operate one or understand even the basics like doing a Google search, doing a copy and paste command, etc. At our church, we devote a lot of time helping our members in poverty deal with these harsh realities. State agencies are too overwhelmed to provide any meaningful client assistance.

  8. confidential says:

    I totally agree here…just look at the homeless all around us. We pay plenty of taxes and they just use a great portion of it to further benefit the wealthy on the poor backs. This is a question that I would ask to all those candidates running for office, federal and local, “what are we going to do for the homeless” for the need of a safe campground at least where they can overnight have bathrooms and showers on site and a gathering hall for job training and safely camp there, not to be taken to jail just for being homeless. A safe campground were they can receive substance abuse and mental and medical treatment on site. A place were children have a confidential physical address to attend school. Have we all lost our compassion for our fellow American women, children, men and elderly in financial distress? Aren’t we a shame yet of not demanding from all these political charlatans to do something about it other than kicking them around?

  9. Sebastian Klay says:

    It’s workee time leeches…or not. Maybe mission food is what you crave. It really doesn’t matter leeches what you want were taking this country back from libtards

  10. Vincent Neri says:

    The argument by many that they pay taxes and are footing the bill for those that do not work is an interesting argument to examine. Most people in our society are paying different taxes every day. The poor and working poor pay taxes everytime they buy something just like everyone else. If the argument is over paying income taxes into the federal government then we should look at what Mitt Romney clearly stated. He explained how around 47% do not pay any taxes because their incomes are to low and they are able to take government deductions to where their is no tax liability. I heard the term”libtards” used and thought that was inappropriate because most people in our country get or have gotten some benefit from the government. If you feel that you have never gotten any help from federal government and state programs it is highly unlikely that you did not. I am a registered republican and have received government benefits just like by republican and deomocrat friends have. No, These programs may not be found in the constitution however, millions of poor, middle class, upper class, and rich get help from the government.

  11. confidential says:

    Sebastian K, be careful that when you take this country back (God forbid) maybe becomes to much for your big foul mouth to chew!
    All of the above that think likewise please show these homeless and food stamp receivers “where are those jobs” that they don’t want to take…There are no jobs! Stop lying. Specially in this county.

  12. Percy's Mother says:

    The public library is full of computers free for use with free internet. So that’s an excuse blown out of the water. No computer skills? The librarians at the public library will be happy to help you. Another excuse blown out of the water. I know people on disability who are also working jobs. I know people on disability who are doing manual labor every day collecting money under the table.

    The big difference between the “haves” and the “have nots”? A backbone and the willingness to break one’s back working to be self-sufficient. I have no sympathy, I’ve seen too much working of the system.

  13. Kathryn says:

    I just figure it’s a rule of thumb that anyone who uses “leeches” to describe those receiving welfare benefits probably has no valuable input here. Same with anyone that actually uses the phrase “libtard” unironically. I have a bad feeling you’ve never had to walk a mile in those shoes if you think it’s all easy-peasy government fruit picking. Nice job hating those less fortunate for wanting to live.

  14. real America says:

    Gross, WSM , and Sebastian are the last of a dying breed

  15. Joe says:

    Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.

  16. Hammock says:

    14 million additional food stamp participants since Obama took office. Quite the recovery.

  17. YankeeExPat says:

    US Statistics on Poverty

    The most recent government statistics on poverty collected show that in 2014,

    46.7 million people (15 percent) were in poverty, including 15.5 million (21 percent) children under the age of 18.
    48.1 million Americans lived in food-insecure households, including more than 15 million children.

  18. confidential says:

    Joe can you and all alike you show those hungry how to fish? Were are the jobs in the library computers for the homeless and needy? Stop the farce y’all please. Show compassion to the needy too not only on Sunday church.

  19. Make every one rich says:

    If the government was to give 1 million dollars to EVERY American citizen who has paid taxes and is not a criminal, we could put every out of work, barely surviving, homeless person in a home, get them work, and pay for a vehicle. And it would only add 1/2 a billion more to the national debt….That’s about as much as we give North Korea every winter for food !!!

  20. BeachcomberT says:

    True, some people game the system. But a much greater number of poor people do not collect the benefits that could help them, either because they don’t know about them, or wrongly assume they’re not eligible or are fearful of applying. The idea that it is simple to go into a library and ask for computer help is mistaken — the reference departments are not staffed to help newbies with every computer command. Sure, a newbie could enroll in a free computer course at a library, but it will still take several weeks to learn the basics. That doesn’t solve the needs of someone who needs work or assistance to buy food that day. Getting approved for disability is not simple, either. That’s why there are law firms that specialize in helping people appeal their denials (and the lawyers get to collect their one-third of the favorable judgments). Some of those disabled who are working “under the table” are doing so because of the stupid rule that you have to be unemployed for a year to be declared disabled.

  21. Jon Hardison says:

    BeachcomberT speaks the truth.
    To add to this, does anyone know how many college students are receiving assistance? Able bodied kids that simply can’t work full time while in school full time. College guidance offices can, in many cases, even start the paperwork for them. What should we do about this huge group of able bodied “moochers”?

    This issue, as with so many others, is a great example of a false political narrative designed to place blame where it doesn’t belong. While politicians run on platforms crafted by lobbyists to reduce the tax burdens on their clients, they enrage a population of well meaning, hard working americans. Telling them that the poor are the reason for their struggle. They tell them the same lie that has been at the center of nearly all wars ever fought. That Muslims, Mexicans, Cubans, the poor, the Chinese, the Japanese, Jews, Italians, the Irish, Blacks and/or any number of religious groups are the reason for your troubles. And every time, every version of this argument was packaged with “proof” and pointed backward to a time when life was better.

    But for all the historic hate, spun in the name of nothing more than greed, we can look at and know that the Jews weren’t Germany’s problem – that the Italians, Irish, Japanese, etc., weren’t American’s problem.
    So why can’t we see it now? Why can’t we see it for what it is when it’s happening?

    I know many conservatives that have been on public assistance. Many who, for a time, couldn’t feed their children. Today, they have 40′ boats and drive Hummers. Today they live in big houses on golf courses. Today they’re online screaming at “moochers” for increasing their tax bill without ever mentioning how we, the tax payers, provided them one of the many opportunities they needed to achieve all that.
    Perhaps honesty would come more easily if the stigma were to vanish. Perhaps we’d be less hateful if we took a second to think about the judgements we’re being asked to make.

    We can’t vilify the poor while simultaneously defunding social programs, crippling our educational systems, busting Unions and enacting policies that give corporations all the leverage. These actions – ALL OF THEM – are designed to create poverty, not slow it or make it less harsh.

    Society needs to figure out what we’re hoping for and say it out loud so there’s no question.
    “I want the poor dead!”, or
    “I want the poor someplace I don’t have to deal with them.”, or
    “I don’t care about the poor at all. I just don’t want to be paying for them.”, or, or, or…

    But know this:
    GE and many other companies posting INCREDIBLE PROFITS pay almost no taxes. :o
    Walmart and many other companies posting INCREDIBLE PROFITS pay almost no wages. :o
    The panhandler on the street corner? He’s not the moocher you’re looking for.

  22. My thoughts says:

    All of you carping about individual welfare, don’t loose sight of the corporate welfare that’s being hashed out in Tallahassee while we ponder this article. $250 million for Enterprise Florida to lure corporations and their alleged jobs to Florida……What a slush fund. No/limited oversight or transparency and plenty of opportunity for kickbacks to those associated with it. All supposedly so we can keep up with other States who have better funding to pursue these corporations. You want a good job? Get a good education. It’s taken the Governor this long to figure out, probably because he’s heard it from the corporations he’s trying to move her, that Florida SUCKS in education, so why would able bodied workers want to raise their families in a State that’s near the bottom? Oh, and by the way, Georgia is spending about $30 mil. on economic development and kicking our ass. Think Atlanta.

  23. Just me says:

    Jon Hardison says:

    February 1, 2016 at 9:50 am

    But know this:
    GE and many other companies posting INCREDIBLE PROFITS pay almost no taxes. :o
    Walmart and many other companies posting INCREDIBLE PROFITS pay almost no wages. :o
    The panhandler on the street corner? He’s not the moocher you’re looking for.

    Hmm.. well this myth of GE paying zero in taxes has been around a while and used by the left.
    A quick search on the internet disproves this. the most resent #s I saw were from 2010 and they paid over 1 BILLION But that was in 2010 so maybe their friend 0bama and the Ds cut it to 0 after that. Its also neat to know that all those people working for Wal-Mart do it for fun as Wal-Mart pays them almost Nothing

  24. confidential says:

    We the income and payroll taxpayers contributing over 80% of this nation revenue:
    http://www.cbpp.org/research/policy-basics-where-do-federal-tax-revenues-come-from
    http://www.taxpolicycenter.org/taxfacts/displayafact.cfm?Docid=203
    are the one’s that sustain America not the corporations 11% contribution and as a pay back our congress and senate give 92 billion to corporate welfare while spending only 59 billion in traditional social welfare to the ones that contribute the highest tax revenue to our nation: http://thinkbynumbers.org/government-spending/corporate-welfare/corporate-welfare-statistics-vs-social-welfare-statistics/
    These is why the widening gap between the never ending increased wealth of the rich and the disenfranchised, destitute, ignored poor, is swallowing our middle class endangered species.

  25. confidential says:

    Hammock, trillions in loosing wars thanks to Bush Sr and Jr and not over yet!!

  26. Jon Hardison says:

    just me: I hear you. That’s why I didn’t say “zero”, but last I checked taxes are based on something. The fact remains that all our (your’s and mine) complaint is the same. Someone isn’t paying their fair share.
    You believe it’s obvious. It’s the poor.
    I think it’s far more sinister. I think companies like Apple, GE, BP, etc…, those companies that spend so much time hobnobbing in Washington are doing so for their own benefit.

    The other points I was making, the ones you didn’t mention, are simply that everyone stumbles. The statistical probability is this: If you and 9 of your conservative friends are out getting coffee and you ask, “Who here are taken plumb assistance of any kind?”, and none of them raises their hand, 4 of your friends are lying.
    But that’s not really the point. If you and these 9 friends are all financially successful, if you’ve all achieved some portion of the American Dream, the system is working. The point was that the bootstraps methodology is bullshit. Nearly all American wealth was created by government programs. This statement doesn’t belittle the accomplishments of the people that took advantage of them.

    Lastly, I’d still love an answer to the question.
    Now that the Job Creators have an unprecedented amount of leverage what do you want to happen to the poor – the working poor? How do you propose they “lift themselves up by the bootstraps” without social programs?

    Someone brought up Libraries earlier. They too are a social program, paid for by the people. Libraries are as threatened as the poor. If those that vilify the poor want them to fix their own problems without using “their money” tell me how.

    You’re aware that the poor like being poor even less than you like them being poor, right?
    You’re aware that your lack of understanding as it relates to the realities of their daily existence doesn’t change their situation, right?

    I would argue that you don’t fix poverty by cutting of social programs.
    You fix poverty by building a world where the offices that provide those services sit empty and largely unused.
    Like paths to citizenship, we need paths to real sustainability for every person in America.

    And before you ask me how we’d pay for it, I’ll simply say this. The answer is, and has always been, education.

    Respectfully…

  27. Sherry says:

    You go Jon. . . you are so right on!

    I can only add that not one of us should be sitting in judgement of those who are struggling and need our helping hand. . . UNLESS and UNTIL truly EQUAL Education, EQUAL career opportunities, and EQUAL justice is an actual REALITY across our nation!

    I would much rather have my tax dollars go to those on food stamps than to tax breaks for massively profitable companies of any kind. Our 1% billionaires are quite proud of moving their money offshore into numbered accounts to avoid paying their fair share of taxes. Meanwhile more and more of our citizens are slipping below the poverty line. Exactly where is the justice???

  28. Sherry says:

    Let’s keep in mind how our hard earned taxes are being spent to supposedly attract new business to Florida. We are being swindled every day by our current administration. . . read this story again:
    http://flaglerlive.com/88820/enterprise-florida-bill-johnson/

  29. nomad says:

    It isn’t only Florida, the entire country wants welfare for the rich and continues to give welfare to the rich. And no president has given more welfare to the rich than Obama, taking more from the poor even when they were down and out…not on their luck mind you, but down and out as a result of the rapaciousness of those two face Poconos and their masters. Making this a republican vs democrat issue is just lazy on the part of those who can’t be bothered to think.

    Fascinating read from the labor secretary in charge of crafting the Clinton administration’s NAFTA policy.
    http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2016/01/robert-reich-why-the-white-working-class-abandoned-the-democratic-party.html

    And the Obama administration signed the TPP deal today – a policy far, far worse than NAFTA. And here’s another interesting article about why capitalist value unemployment over profits…

    http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2016/02/trumps-neofascism-isnt-going-away-even-if-trump-does.html

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