My Take: Fiscal cliff presents false choice between compassion, good economics
President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner have disagreements about how to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff.
December 13th, 2012
05:14 PM ET

My Take: Fiscal cliff presents false choice between compassion, good economics

Editor’s note: Sister Simone Campbell is Executive Director of the Catholic social justice lobby NETWORK and leader of the “Nuns on the Bus.”

By Simone Campbell, Special to CNN

(CNN) - The debate raging in Congress over the fate of our federal budget reminds me of the great judgment of Solomon. Here we are, sharp sword overhead, poised to cut the baby in half, just waiting for the voice of reason and a willingness to sacrifice.

Instead, we’re confronted with arguments framed as a hard, false choice between sound economic policies and social programs, between fiscal realities and compassionate acts. It’s time to stay the sword.

The truth is, at some point in life and regardless of income, virtually every American will benefit in some way from a social safety-net program, whether through a social security check, an unemployment benefit or a school lunch. Programs like these are called safety nets for a reason – yank them away and people get hurt, today more than ever.

Take the special ed teacher’s aide I recently met. She has a full-time job that pays all of $17,000 a year. She works a second job to pay all the bills, but still must rely on a safety net to help feed her two kids. Because she does not earn a living wage, she has no choice.

Yet some conservatives label her a “taker” and view her with contempt, judgments that are neither just nor wise.

As we debate what to cut and keep as part of the spending reductions that will accompany coming tax increases, it’s time to be as wise as Solomon. The truth is, study after study has proven that basic, responsible social service programs like food stamps, housing credits and after-school programs actually work.

Take child care. This single subsidy is a great multiplier that provides terrific return-on-investment as a service cost reducer and a job creator. Moms return to work and families earn – and spend – more. Employers get a more reliable workforce and children are safe. And we all benefit as taxpayers because it pumps money into the economy.

Such programs are not a handout, they are a hand up.

Safety-net programs that help low and moderate-income working families, as well as those among us who are elderly, poor, disabled and neglected, account for only 13% of the total 2011 federal budget. These aren’t Cadillac programs funding big-screen TVs across America. These are programs that help pay for education, affordable apartments and oil to heat cold rooms.

More important to the fiscal hawks among us, these are also programs that help move the working poor into the middle class. I speak from the heart, but it’s my head and basic math that tell me that in our interconnected society, by helping one, we can help all.

For the last 10 years, the so-called “job creators” have enjoyed significant tax cuts and tax breaks – thanks to a beneficent government – and we have yet to see the jobs.

Perhaps the corporate titans should take a tip from one of their own, Henry Ford, founder of the Ford Motor Co. One of the richest men in the nation, but hardly a soft-hearted liberal, Ford doubled his employees’ wages in 1914, paying them enough to actually afford the cars they were making.

Truth is, Ford knew he didn’t have to make a false choice between being a good businessman or a benevolent soul. He paid his employees a living wage because it was the shrewd thing to do, knowing that workers who have money spend money, and that helped ensure everyone’s well being, including Henry Ford’s.

Imagine the impact on today’s gross domestic product if millions of low-wage working Americans, who got short-term help from a social service program with long-range goals, started earning a few more extra dollars. Like Ford’s workers, I bet they’d spend it.

My organization, NETWORK, founded by Catholic Sisters 40 years ago, lobbies Congress for economic justice. Over the summer, we crisscrossed the country on a mission – dubbed “Nuns on the Bus” – to make elected officials aware of the danger in further enriching the wealthiest Americans at the expense of struggling, impoverished families.

Our “Faithful Budget” calls for supporting public transit, job training, affordable housing near work – the sorts of programs that increase productivity and engagement in the economy.

Ultimately, we need to pay living wages so far fewer working people rely on safety nets. But until that happens, the richest country on earth has enough loaves and fishes for all. It’s both compassionate and pragmatic to make sure that low-wage workers and their families eat, have places to live, and access to basic healthcare services to be productive members in our economy.

When it comes to the debate before us, if enough voices of reason speak out – and both sides offer up something to sacrifice without harming people in need – we can all join together to help save both our nation’s fiscal security and its benevolent soul.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Simone Campbell.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Catholic Church • Charity • Christianity • Opinion • Politics

soundoff (154 Responses)
  1. Matt

    Sorry, "Social Justice" is a political agenda that doesn't work. I will donate my time and money to an actual organization that helps people without a political agenda.

    December 14, 2012 at 3:11 pm |
    • d

      You are a liar who knows NOTHING about the world. Social justice is working fine in other countries. Canada, Australia, Northern Europe ALL have decent, functioning social safety nets, and they have more prosperous, safe, and crime free societies. Because they don't have selfish sadistic people like you who only want misery for others.

      December 14, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
    • El Flaco

      For which organizations do you donate your time today?

      December 14, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
  2. Dishonesty writer

    There is a difference between a 'safety net' and a 'taker lifestyle'. The writer of this article is too simplistic and dishonest in her approach. BOTH democrats and republicans care about people.

    Conservatives are actually MORE charitable in their giving than 'liberals'. Government handouts IS NOT CHARITY. Just because a democrats says that the rich need to subsidize the poor doesn't make that democrat right OR charitable.

    December 14, 2012 at 3:08 pm |
    • d

      You are a heartless and a liar. And seniors, the chief target of cruel people like you, PAID FOR THEIR BENEFITS while they were working. SS and Medicare are EARNED benefits. Social Security does NOT add to the deficit. You just want an excuse to steal earned benefits and inflict pain.

      December 14, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Red states consistently outpace blue when it comes to individual charitable giving.

      A liberal is a someone who feels a great debt to his fellow man and proposes to pay that with your money.

      December 14, 2012 at 3:28 pm |
    • nobody important

      You are correct. There's nothing charitable about saying "That person needs help – I want a law that forces OTHER people to help them." (not to mention the "help" is often wasteful and inefficient)

      While there are certainly charitable Dems and selfish Repubs, study after study has shown that the one group donates more of their personal time and money than the other.

      December 14, 2012 at 3:31 pm |
    • El Flaco

      Bill, giving to your church is not a charitable contribution. Churches are not charities.

      Giving to Planned Parenthood or a battered women's shelter is charity.

      December 14, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
  3. Zombie John Gotti

    Great. How do we pay for it? She never really addresses that. She only talks about how feels these are necessary and work.

    December 14, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
    • d

      SS is funded by payroll taxes. Beneficiaries PAID FOR THEIR BENEFITS.

      December 14, 2012 at 3:18 pm |

    I was a 100K earner. That is more than double the average wage (both now and then). We should never have been given a tax cut. If the Bush Tax cuts were never implemented I believe that the excess money that spurred the housing bobble and many other risky economic ventures would have been moderated and the 2007-2009 economic recession would have been less sever. Next we should make all income (wages, interest, and dividends) subject to some level of Medicare and Social Security tax (and corresponding benefit) to help fund our biggest social programs. We need as a corporate group pay our way. In my 20's I was a low wage earner, in my 30s and 40s a middle wage earner, in my 50s and 60s a high wage earner. I should be taxes according ly (progressively).
    Social Security is like insurance (or like a bank account). The stock marked may earn you more money but it is secure. Security feels good.

    December 14, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
    • Matt

      The cut was actually to help get the country out of the recession of 2000 + the effects of 9/11. It worked. The country got back it its feet economically. Unfortunately, there weren't any SPENDING CUTS.

      You do know that you could have donated. Obama wasn't a generous giver either.... until campaign time. Biden, who preaches 'charity' hasn't given a dime to the poor in 15 years (his 'charitable donation' is used suits - valued at $300).

      Liberal hypocrisy is crazy.

      December 14, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
    • hello

      You can pay more. If you choose not to, that is on you, not the republicans.

      December 14, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
    • The Bottom Line

      Yes and no. The tax level of rich people had nothing to do with the sleazy loans and financial derivatives that caused this crack-up. THe real culprit is the repeal of Glass-Steagal, and a refusal to regulate these new derivatives.

      However, the economic issue at stake is that America has a growing and dangerously large national debt. Both parties did their part: Democrats do like to increase spending, but for all their talk, so do Republicans. W and Reagan were the largest debt-growers since FDR, though Obama has indeed surpassed them. The Republicans like the stuff, but don't want to pay for it, whereas Democrats only sort of pay for it.

      The reality is that both parties have been financially irresponsible. The reality is that taxes must go up – you have to pay for what you get – and spending must go down. The spending cuts need to be worked in over time so as not to send the recession back into recession, or worse. However, that process, if anyone was actually going to embark upon it, would be tossed aside at the next election, and both sides would go back to their dysfunctional approaches.

      Democrats: a lot of government programs must go, or be scaled way back. You spend money like Paris Hilton, but you don't have her inheritance!

      Republicans: you have to pay your damn bills! You want something for nothing. Privatizing is a failure, as the energy situation in California proved, and the military structure in Iraq and Afghanistan proved – the private contractors ripped us off badly. ANDS, your programs have to scale back too, especially defense, which is quite bloated. And get over your war-lust! It's too expensive, and we get NOTHING from it!

      Getting the economy/debt situation in order is going to take time, and it is going to hurt. Since this is the case, expect people to avoid the truth and let the problem get worse and worse until it cannot be ignored. This is exactly like the depletion of fisheries, the problem of global warming, the depletion of fossil fuel reserves, and the deforestation that means the atmosphere cannot scrub all the pollutants or produce enough oxygen.

      A lot of these will coincide in about 40-60 years, and straightening it out then will be incredibly difficult and painful. It already is, so people ignore it, or deny it.

      Our grandchildren are going to have to live through quite a mess because of the last few generations. We have been like a plague of locusts, and when we hit the end of the last wheat field, guess what?

      December 14, 2012 at 3:24 pm |
    • jsf12

      Social security started as part retirement program (your benefits depend on the duration and size of your contribution) and part wealth transfer from young to old.
      But the Democrats have repeatedly adjusted the rules so it is less and less a retirement program and more and more a wealth transfer from people who work hard to those who don't.
      Benefits depend on slightly on contribution. Those who contribute a minimal amount for a less than average time get back a large multiple of what they put in. My father contributed the max amount through a long career, but max benefits cap much lower than max contribution, so he would have needed to live past 100 to get back what he put in. I have contributed the max amount now for as long as my father did (I worked and contributed since I was a teenager and max amount since early 20's) and I'm still working. Even before the benefit that that needs to occur, I could never have gotten a significant fraction of that back.
      For lower income people SS was always a ponzi scheme promising almost everyone could get back more than the put in. But that promise cannot be kept as a continuing ponzi scheme nor can it be kept by giving an even worse deal to those at the high end, who never got back as much as they put in. There are not enough of us to pay for them. The trust fund is a fiction and was 100% looted long ago. Even if it existed, it is tiny compared to the promises made by the ponzi scheme.

      December 14, 2012 at 8:49 pm |
  5. $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

    The pope just turned on tree and said abortion and g_ay marriage is biggest threat to peace! Go FIGURE!!!
    Is he LOST IN SPACE?

    December 14, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
  6. techie TJ

    Where is the proposal to put Congressional and Executive perks on the table? Put Congress on Social Security instead of their current luxury lifetime retirement system and sign them up for Obamacare instead of their overthetop health care benefits.

    December 14, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
  7. Ricke1949

    Sell your convent and give the proceeds to the poor.

    December 14, 2012 at 2:38 pm |
    • El Flaco

      Don't give this woman advice on how to be a good person.

      You have no idea.

      December 14, 2012 at 2:41 pm |
    • hello

      El, you know about as much about this guy as you do the woman that preaches 'social justice'. She can put her money where her mouth is. Instead, she wants 'charity' to be forced.

      December 14, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
    • d

      Ricke is a piece of garbage.

      December 14, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
  8. Annie

    The most empowering thing we can give a person is a JOB. Our little business laid off three women, all single parents because we can't afford the increased costs associated with raised taxes and fees. We don't live high on the hog. We rent a modest home and pay our bills but our taxes and student loans mean we have to make a certain income to stay afloat. Today a woman who escaped an abusive relationship with the help of a JOB from us, is unemployed. Facts and figures made us have to get rid of people... we used to have 20 employees and we are down to 10 with 2 more layoffs to come. Keep raising the tax on that $250,000 tax bracket and see what happens............................

    December 14, 2012 at 2:36 pm |
    • rlj

      If your business makes 250,000 in profits (you must be for any tax increase to affect you) and you still cannot afford three employees, you are probably not running it very well.

      December 14, 2012 at 2:43 pm |
    • strgzer585

      So, you laid off people on the IDEA that taxes were going to go up? Did you hear the world might end in a week? You should probably just go ahead and close up shop.

      December 14, 2012 at 2:54 pm |
    • SK

      That's a load of crap. You didn't lay off ten people because of a (possible, slight) increase in taxes. You laid them off because your business is slow. If more people had more money evenly distributed your business would benefit.

      Either that, or you're lying on the Internet. Which is of course shocking.

      December 14, 2012 at 2:58 pm |
    • Common Slob

      Why whould you do such a horrible thing to your employees. If you make over 250K and have to cut employees because of a tax hike that has yet to go into effect you are not so good of a business operator. Work within what is known, not hypotheticals. I believe yours to be a false post. Just don't belive anyone would do this.

      December 14, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
    • Alinnc

      It's not just a question of did your business make a total profit of over $250,000. The tax increases will only affect you if your cut of the profits is over $250,000. Other salaries and expenses are deducted from the business income,so profits are AFTER all other deductible expenses – rent, staffing, etc.

      December 14, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
    • swh

      I agree, these layoffs are probably more economy related without further information from the OP. Regardless, it's expensive to have employees. You think you only cost a company $50,0000 a year for salary? Think again.... Try $70,0000-$80,0000. Besides, it's the single folks (W2s) making the big bucks (250K+) without tax credits/deductions who will being getting sh@fted the most from these taxes. Quit whining.

      December 14, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
    • swh

      Also Annie, I don't know how your company is being taxed (Sole/Joint Prop, LLC, S or C Corp) but you may want to speak with a CPA about the benefits of forming an LLC with an S Corp tax election especially if you have employees. Take a comfortable salary+profits and your deductions and try to grow the business – which = more employees.

      December 14, 2012 at 3:47 pm |
  9. Mike

    Yes, it is a false dichotomy, but in exactly the opposite way that is presented.

    The "social safety net" programs do far more harm than good. They create more poverty than they allay.

    Cutting these programs will benefit the country.

    December 14, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
    • rlj

      So I take it you are never going to take a social security check or use medicare. Not all of us have the millions that you seem to have, so we need those.

      December 14, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
    • El Flaco

      That is incredibly stupid.

      Take unemployment compensation away from a man who was laid off through now fault of his own (due to the housing bubble which was caused by Bank CEOs).

      Put him in an economy where there are no jobs.

      Tell him to get a job.

      I may as well order you to build a moon rocket.

      December 14, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
    • Oldster


      I, and every other 'oldster' collecting Social Security, have PAID into that fund all of our working lives. My spouse and I invested nearly $100,000 in SS, and paid into Medicare from its inception. You will NOT take away our savings. Yes, it needs to be fixed so that those who are investing now will get their return of investment eventually too.

      December 14, 2012 at 2:51 pm |
    • Huebert


      How do social programs create poverty?

      December 14, 2012 at 3:10 pm |
    • d

      Listen, you stinking piece of crap, seniors PAID FOR THEIR BENEFITS.

      December 14, 2012 at 3:21 pm |
    • Saboth

      Care to elaborate instead of simply making unsupported statements that fly in the face of facts?

      Social safety nets are necessary, especially in a bad economy. What do you think those people do with that money? Stick it in the Cayman islands? They rush out to Walmart, Food lion and Sears and buy necessities that keep those businesses going. Once unemployment comes down, people will leave those nets behind to find employment. If someone can sit at home and collect a check for $250 or go to work and collect one for $550, they are going to go to work.

      December 14, 2012 at 3:21 pm |
  10. EGB2

    Are these people really in poverty? The Dept. of Energy's Residential Energy Consumption Survey shows that virtually all of the "poor" people in this country have one or more televisions, dvd players, and other luxuries. Most have cell phones and dishwashers. Perhaps if they spent money on food instead of these items they could make ends meet.

    December 14, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
    • El Flaco

      So what. A used TV from goodwill. A cell phone that you pay for by the month?

      The truth is that the wealthy class receives a greater percentage of the nation's income every year.

      The truth is that the middle class receives a smaller percentage of the nation's income every year.

      It's like mom brought us a plate of 12 cookies. The oldest brother took eleven of them and told his two little sisters, "You two are going to have to split that last cookie. There are not enough cookies for both of you to have a whole one."

      Then, people like you say, "Look, the poor are eating cookies."

      December 14, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
    • lazyopinion

      El Flaco,

      Let's continue that analogy. Lets say that all children are fed and healthy. I asked all three kids to do their chores. The older brother did his and the others did not. That night I made cookies and gave all 12 to the older brother. The cookies are a luxury and are given to those that earn it. Now the older brother may be a good guy and share with his siblings. But I cannot force him to do that, even a kid would understand that.

      A TV is not a need. what if they were on welfare and had a better car than you, a better home, a yacht, and a nice collection of fine wines. All paid for by welfare, would you defend them and say "that's ok, they got it used."

      One more time...A TV is not a need, I do not care how much or how little was paid for it. The electricity for a TV is not a need. The time in front of the TV is not a need .

      December 14, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
    • Saboth

      Dude, TV's are like $150-$300 now, and phones are virtually free. Meanwhile, groceries can now cost a family $150-$300 per WEEK. It's not like $20 DVD players and TVs are some kind of social status symbol now. That's what our new trade agreements have gotten us. Lower wages and job security, but cheap toys.

      December 14, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
    • hello

      True. The current definition of 'poverty' is actually wrong. I've lived in Europe and seen how many African refugees live. That is closer to real poverty..... and they have jobs and work hard.

      There is a difference between 'safety net' and living off the government.

      December 14, 2012 at 3:24 pm |
    • El Flaco

      So, Lazy, how far should we let the distribution of income drift?

      Should the wealthy 2% earn 50% of the nation's income? 75%? 90%? 99%?

      When Conservatives talked about the free market, they assured us that everyone prospers. A rising tide lifts all boats.

      That is not true now. The truth now is the as my boss increases his income, my salary goes down to pay for it.

      Hard work results in lower pay in modern America. You will probably be earning less in 10 years than you earn now.

      December 14, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
    • Maybe try to spend less


      $150 – $300 per week for groceries? What are they buying? Without trying too hard, you can feed a family for a week sub <$100, with protein even. There won't be a whole lot of variety, but it'd keep the belly full.

      December 14, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
  11. swimming

    Nothing wrong with the above argument. Except what the good sister fails to recognize is that the USA is spending more than it takes in. I agree with fixing the income tax issue (rates) and I agree with fixing the income tax system (eliminate loop holes, equalize all income to same rates). But making those changes, as well as having the 98% become emotionally satisfied that the 2% are now "paying their fair share", will not fix the overall problem.

    All of the additional income tax revenue by adjusting the rates and deductions will not solve the overall cash flow issue.

    BTW – no one is talking about the increase in taxes/costs that will be incurred when ObamaCare starts up next year. I'm in favor of the program – but it seems awfully convenient that no one is bringing this little surprise to the table right now.

    There must be adjustments to both revenue and spending. Certainly making the social programs more cost efficient will have a great impact. But that won't solve it either. Cut back on defense? Sure – but then the President needs to understand he can't just decide to send 400 troops and Patriot missiles to Turkey on a whim.

    My proposal would be that the GOP relents on the tax code issues. And then uses 2013 to reform the tax code to effectively ensure that revenues equal or exceed their commitment/projection.

    On the other side, the Dems need to commit to verifiable cost reductions. They can hammer out how that happens and they can take on the role of being the "heavies" when deciding which social programs are reduced or eliminated.

    The GOP guys will get criticism from their supporters and the Dems will get criticism from their supporters. Everyone is a bad guy in the name of what is doing what's best for the USA.

    December 14, 2012 at 2:08 pm |
    • hello

      True. The government needs to cut spending before they can demand more and more money. With the obamacare tax coming up (as well as extra spending), now is the time to start tightening up the government belt. Will obama do the right thing? Based on his recent words, nope.

      December 14, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
  12. Bootyfunk

    funny that the people she's mostly fighting against are christians. the republicans that want to cut any help to the poor - are christians. i'm not a fan of the bible and i'm not christian - but the bible tells its followers to help the poor. yet the ones that fight against the poor the most viciously are all christian law makers.

    December 14, 2012 at 2:07 pm |
    • dnick47

      Amen. I left a fundamentalist Baptist Church this September after the preacher said he wouldn't take sides then in the next breath bash Obama with a Fox News dummy-cism. That was not the 1st,,2nd or 3rd time he;'d done that either but enough is enough after awhile... if one has to be a Republican to be a Christian, then everything written in the Bible must be a lie; OR, the Republicans are liars.

      December 14, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
    • PJ

      The Bible does tll us to help the poor, it does not tell us to force others to at gunpoint. I donate several thousand a year (and only make $34,000) because it is the right thing to do, not because I am forced to. So you can be a Republican and follow the Bible. If everyone is so concerned about the social safety net why are they not arguing for all taxes to be raised? It's all well and fine to want to go after the top 2%, but how about you put your money where your mouth is and raise your rates as well?

      December 14, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
    • hello

      Studies have shown that conservatives (and Christians) DONATE more of their time and money than liberals. How is your 'donating' coming along? Or are you just one of those hypocrites that would rather have others forced to donate..... so that you can feel good.

      December 14, 2012 at 3:28 pm |
  13. ray

    my heart goes out to the parents and who ever lost love ones in connecticut. this guy is a moron and should be punish but i think he would have done a better deed if he had tgone to the nra office and the republicans in both houses of contgress . i wish he did . how i wisth he did

    December 14, 2012 at 2:00 pm |
    • Ray

      What is wrong with you? Have you no shame?

      December 14, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
  14. Bill Deacon

    Renounce your vows Sister and become what you are.

    December 14, 2012 at 2:00 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      A decent human being that thinks for herself? Your right, that's so not Catholic.

      December 14, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      She's a politician now. If she had any integrity she would disavow. The she would be free to advocate her views without benefit of the platform she is currently abusing.

      December 14, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      Yet if she said things you agree with, you wouldn't be saying what you are right now.

      December 14, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
  15. houbie

    The hardest type of compassion to express is a decision that must be based on priorties, not just the difference between right and wrong.

    A nation with a 16 trillion debt and a Debt to GDP ratio over 100% is in a triage situation, unfortunately.

    Sometimes, the greatest act of charity is to help the strong survive so that someone, anyone, may live.

    December 14, 2012 at 1:55 pm |
    • xirume

      Mighty brainless post there, bubbalooga

      December 14, 2012 at 2:33 pm |
    • Jim says hi

      xirume, you are pretty brainless. It is true that our country does not have the funds to fund EVERYTHING. In fact, if you took every cent that the 'rich' have, we still couldn't pay for obama's debt spending.

      Cut spending and prioritize where money is spent. Wish that obama understood economics.

      December 14, 2012 at 3:30 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      America's Gross National Product is just under 16 trillion dollars. America's debt is just over $16 trillion. So, if we took EVERYTHING that EVERYBODY made and applied it to the debt while simultaneously stopping ALL government services we would still be over $1,000,000,000,000.00 in debt; and of course no one would have any income nor services. In other words, the nation is BANKRUPT. The endless party is over. The only reason we are not falling is because the bond holders realize the entire structure will collapse. This is the closest the "Occupy Wall Street" mob got to the truth. They were just too dumb to realize what they had latched onto and used it merely as political capital.

      December 14, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
  16. lazyopinion

    17 grand plus a second job and still needs money? What is this "living wage"?

    I made it through college making less that $10,000 and living off campus. I spent last year unemployed and living off of savings. My total bills per month were less than $700. I know that it can be expensive to live in some cities, but if you cannot afford it then move. I would like to live in downtown San Fran and drive a Lincoln, but I can't afford to. Should I get some handouts from the government?

    I grew up on welfare and have never received any government assistance since become an adult. I saw then and continue to see now many people on government assistance with cable, netflix, dvd players, video games, and eating out. I can drive down the road now and see people I know are on welfare (because I know some of them personally) who have direct TV dishes on their homes and empty beer cans in their garbage. This is what we pay for. I am more than happy to feed and cloth the poor, but not to pay for a lifestyle of excess.

    December 14, 2012 at 1:42 pm |
    • Kevin

      She has two children that she has to care for. Can't you read?
      You are an embarassment. This is literally grade school-level reading comprehension.

      December 14, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
    • Garth

      How hard-hearted you are. Shouldn't growing up on welfare make you somewhat sympathetic to this mother's plight? And so what if these folks want to watch some TV or enjoy a beer? Should they be forced to live in the streets with nothing because they are poor? They deserve to have a bit of a life too.

      December 14, 2012 at 2:01 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      since you admit you grew up on welfare, maybe we should put your lazy mom and dad who couldn't provide for you in jail until they pay the money back, ya know, seeing how they're leeches and all.

      December 14, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
    • NMEast

      Garth, they may "deserve a bit of life", but not at the expense of the government, i.e. TAXPAYERS. "Life" happens on your OWN money, not someone else's. I am one of those who raised 3 children on minimal money; never taking any kind of help from the "government", as I didn't see the need. If I didn't have the money for a beer, I didn't get one. We didn't have cable TV, no cell phones, no eating out, no new cars; no movies; using public transportation when possible. You are the embodiment of what is wrong with this country. Everyone expects that they should "have a life" without having to pay for it. You won't die if you don't have a beer, a cigarette, the ability to watch TV, have a cell phone with any kind of plan, the latest video games, go to a movie, eat out. Millions of people survive, around the world, without all those things. So will the Americans that don't have them. If you want these things, you find a way to make more money; if you don't have the skills to get a better job, start learning what it takes. Stop relying on the government to "help you out". Become the self-sufficient people Americans used to be known for.

      December 14, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
    • lazyopinion

      Kevin, Who said I did not have children? Be careful what you assume. I only have one, but I did it for much less than $17,000. That second job is bring money as well.

      December 14, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
    • lazyopinion


      Growing up on welfare allowed me to see how many were abusing the situation. My mother was a single mother you spent more money on drugs and alcohol than food. Every friend and neighbor was abusing the system in some way.

      Life is eating, sleeping, working. You do not need beer to have a life. Libraries are free and you can even watch movies at many libraries. God knows I did, I love movies and books. During the hard times I made sure to find my local library.

      December 14, 2012 at 3:03 pm |
    • lazyopinion


      I would not be opposed to people having to repay the system. They do it to deadbeat fathers. If the dad cannot afford to pay child support and the mother and children are on government assistance, then the government will keep track of money paid and will bill/garnish the father when he has a job and is capable of paying back the government.

      You username made me laugh.

      December 14, 2012 at 3:07 pm |
    • Jim says hi

      Lots of faux liberal anger, here.

      I understand the point of the post.

      December 14, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
  17. jonathan peterson

    BS. The administrative costs of food stamps vary from state to state, but the COMBINED state AND federal administrative costs run between 1 and 10% of the total program cost.

    December 14, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
  18. Mohammad A Dar

    talk about gun control, goons, CNN reports at least 10 children dead at school shooting in CT

    December 14, 2012 at 12:58 pm |
    • New Alias

      Darn right!
      If we would get rid of all that stupid guncontrol the teachers and kids could have taken that nut job out!

      $1 says he was from a christian family-

      December 14, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
    • What?

      @New...its a tragic event, but you suggesting that the shooter came for a Christian family is vomitable...even if it were true, I defy you to find any Christian, any Christian teaching, any Bible verse that condones, supports, or even winks at what happened. Why to bash an entire group of people just as horrified as you undoubtedly are just to make a point. Go F yourself.

      December 14, 2012 at 2:22 pm |
    • New Alias

      Go read your bible.
      See if you can find the part (parts) where:
      1 Slavery is okay
      2 R.ape is okay
      3 killing children is justified, or even required.
      Next, see if you can find the parts that the Klan uses to justify lynching people with dark skin.
      Yep, it's all in there.
      Christians are really good at deciding who god will send to hell, and discriminating against them.
      Until you – as a group – stop r.aping children, admit your sins, and start following your own philosophy I'm going to continue insulting you.

      December 14, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
    • Damocles


      People who died in the supposed flood sent by your supposedly loving deity say what? What? Ohhh they can't say anything can they? What? Huh? Loving deity that kicked out his very first creations because it's an angry, jealous, confused deity that didn't know what was going to happen? Wooo power to the people for being able to flumox a deity. Loving believer that tells a fellow human to and I quote 'go F yourself'.

      December 14, 2012 at 3:08 pm |
  19. New Alias

    Nothing like a sound logical arguement with facts and figures to back it up.
    What I must paraphrase to:
    "People need help, so let's not make any spending cuts to any of my favorite programs."

    For those of you who don't know, it costs as much to administer the Food Stamps program as they give out in food stamps! What we need to do is cut the cost of running government.

    December 14, 2012 at 12:36 pm |
    • Akira

      I agree.
      Administrative spending cuts are needed, not the program itself.

      December 14, 2012 at 1:02 pm |
    • JSchmitt

      The Food Stamp Program is one of the nation’s largest programs providing benefits directly to low-income families. In 2006, the program provided benefits to 26.7 million people in an average month, at a combined federal and state cost of $35.8 billion. While most of these funds were spent on food stamp benefits for families, administrative costs totaled $4.8 to $5.7 billion, depending on how such costs are defined.

      December 14, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
    • Kevin

      I agree, there is nothing like a sound argument with facts and figures. Pity you didn't have the intellectual capacity (or honesty?) to get facts to support yours.
      Such an embarassment.

      December 14, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
    • Diana

      As a single mom for the past 10 years I have had to get public assistance. When I was first divorced I was supporting two young children with no help from their father. I had no choice but to get on food stamps, WIC and day care assistance. If it wasn't for the help I would have had to move in with my parents. Now, because of the HELP UP I received I now have one child in the military proudly serving his country and another son in high school doing very well. I was able to get my own house (with the HELP UP of Habitat for Humanity). My son receives reduced price lunches at school. Without the help I am receiving and have received in the past I don't how I could have done it.

      December 14, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
    • Hatter

      It's so interesting to see people rally for less gun control after a mass shooting, especially one in a school. It's seemingly always the same illogical argument: 'If we arm everyone (and if we go along with you – even small children), nobody will get hurt.' Brilliant, really.

      December 14, 2012 at 2:33 pm |
    • New Alias

      Thanks for looking that up for me. I was feeling lazy.

      December 14, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
    • Jim says hi

      True, the food stamp program is not efficient and wastes half the money (similar to what is going to happen with obamacare). There is a small town near where I live that found $9M in food stamp FRAUD.

      Sorry, there are better ways to administer to the poor than through bloated government programs.

      December 14, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
    • What's wrong with the parents


      So, I don't quite understand, what would be wrong with you moving in with your parents?

      December 14, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
  20. Akira

    Brava, Sister!

    December 14, 2012 at 12:31 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.