My family has always struggled to get by. Sure, we’ve gone through periods of relative success, but overall, it’s been tough. Both my mother and my father, who are divorced, have, at one time, taken advantage of the SNAP program. If we hadn’t had access to it, we would have been eating in soup kitchens. I owe that program a massive debt.
There is a stigma attached to government benefit programs, as if asking for assistance is dishonorable. A lot of people seem to think that financial challenges are a direct result of the person. Maybe they weren’t working hard enough, or maybe they were bad budgeters, or maybe they just don’t deserve to be financially stable. One study actually showed that people tend to categorize homeless people as objects, not people. I think that this way of thinking is entirely unfair to the people who suffer from these challenges. From personal experience, I can say that financial difficulties are almost always not a result of laziness. External circumstances often dictate our lives, sometimes for good and sometimes for ill.
Providing assistance for people who need it is, in my opinion, an essential service in order to achieve a healthy, well-functioning society. If private companies and individuals won’t provide this service, then we must look to a higher authority (in this case, the government). Though I believe in a small government, considering today’s societal structure and people’s seeming unwillingness to help those they don’t know, I think that government benefit programs are indispensable. A great example is http://www.welfarecellphone.com
However, as with anything, there are ways these programs could be improved. I think the most important change that could be made is to put more of the government’s budget towards assistance programs. Currently, the vast majority of the United States budget goes to corporate subsidies, far more than goes to military defense or padding senators’ paychecks. I think that this money is egregiously misspent; I would rather shop at local businesses anyway. People pay taxes because they want the services that their taxes pay for, such as financial assistance for college or free schooling. More money should be put towards assistance programs so that the people who take advantage of them don’t have to make bad choices due to lack of funds. The food stamp program especially does not give enough money to those who need it, and my family often had to make less healthy food choices because they were less expensive. A bigger budget would help alleviate this situation, even if it wouldn’t fix it entirely.
Government assistance, though stigmatized, is necessary in order for our country to function correctly. There are changes that can be made to them, but even as they are, they have helped many people—including my family—to get back on their feet and start life with a blank slate without having to worry about where their next meal will come from, or whether they will have a roof over their heads. I sincerely hope that people as a whole begin to realize the importance of benefit programs and help to contribute to their success.