Hey USA: Thanks for paying for my SNAP. Now:Where’s my thanks 4 paying 4 your road-water-phone-air-school-retirement?

4 Jun

Interestingly, after publishing this piece on GourmetLive about using food stamps for a year, I’ve gotten a smattering of email from folks whose response can be summed up by this particular email I received on Saturday:

email: taxpayer@tax.com
textarea: Hope you enjoyed eating the food that I payed for!
Submit: Submit

I’ll leave aside any bleeding heart crap about helping one’s fellow man. Let’s look at the facts:

(1) I paid for my own SNAP.

As is pretty clear in most of my biographical materials, widely available online, I’ve been working since I was 14. That puts me at 21 years in the workforce. I’ll need to contact the Social Security Administration to make sure on this, but I suspect that the $2400 I made use of via the SNAP program is a fraction of what I personally have paid into the federal tax base over the course of my lifetime.

(2) Will you thank me for paying for your roads?

Similarly, just as I’m grateful for the help I was able to access, I trust that “Taxpayer” and his/her friends are grateful to me for all the public services my taxes have paid for: clean air and water; paved roads; traffic lights; minimum wage guarantees; public parks; library systems; public schools. While we’re at it, I hope Taxpayer also appreciates the contributions my grandparents made to rural electrification and clean water infrastructure.

(3) Food assistance is a miniscule part of the federal budget. 

If we’re gonna get finicky about whose paying for what when it comes to taxes, it’s worth looking at what we spend our money on. In fiscal year 2012, we spent about $73 billion  on food and nutrition assistance, out of a budget of $3.816 trillion, or about 1.9 percent of the budget. Highway subsidies got $35 billion (.9 percent of federal budget); police got $32 billion (.8 percent); social security got $748 billion (19.6 percent). So unless “Taxpayer” doesn’t ever get in a car; has never needed the services of a police person; and has single-handedly supported and cared for his/her parents throughout their old age, I’d appreciate a thank you acknowledging my subsidization of all those things, too.

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