Gov. Pence and Food Stamps

In another installment from the Economy as Morality Play Department, we have Gov. Pence making the moral case for cutting food stamps.

The Indiana Family and Social Services Administration announced last month that beginning in 2015, it would no longer request a waiver to the federal work requirement for certain people who use the SNAP program. Up to 65,000 single Hoosiers could lose food stamp benefits unless they are working 20 hours a week or attending job training.

Asked about whether this action targets poor people, Gov. Pence responded “I’m someone that believes there’s nothing more ennobling to a person than a job.” The article, however, reminds us that “there were 2 million people in the Midwest seeking jobs, but only about a million jobs available. And that’s not counting the thousands of people who are no longer counted as unemployed because they gave up looking for a job.”

Not to put too fine a point on it, but the assumption here is that poor people need food stamps because they’re lazy and only if they have to choose between work and starvation will they get off their butts and get a job. That assumption is not, by and large, based on evidence. My sense is that people who cling to this world view do so in large part because it’s scary to acknowledge that the world is often uncontrollable and unfair; that you can be willing to work and still go hungry.

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