#BREAKING Maine DHHS announced that it will now require able-bodied recipients to work in order to receive food supplement benefits. Story here »…
This is one of the most classist comments sections I have ever seen. I. CAN. NOT.
let’s be fair: it’s not classist so much as fuckin dumb.
this is my field so let’s talk about why this policy is not the aboslute worst idea in the world, but also is generally dumb and reflects a dumb polity, and how that dumb polity is replying in this comments section.
first off, it’s not a maine-specific requirement; it’s a federal requirement which maine is enforcing. the maine dhhs press release on it is fun
because of how it fucks around with the numbers. see if you can spot the numerical lie!
that being said, as far as “punish the poor” programs go - and that is what this is - this one is fairly generous. work, volunteering, or their program? and only if you are 18-49, no dependents, not pregnant, and without (federally-identified) disabilities. this is like - the nicest poor-people-hating policy i’ve seen in a while. there’s nothing to stop a volunteer organization from taking all 12,000 affected persons and saying “oh yeah they help us out.”
oh wait, yeah there is. employing govt personnel to track and check on that stuff, that might cut back on potential fraud.
now, SNAP benefits are federal dollars, not state. but the money paid to state employees who determine eligibility and audit benefits is state money.
let’s think about those 12,000 maine folks affected. 12,000 employers to check WITH. what constitutes “checking”? typically, an interview with the benefits recipient validated with a pay stub or volunteer timecard, possibly a call to the interviewer; then the pay stub and other info are input into a case management system and probably scanned into a document management system and also archived in paper form for seven years per federal policy. these are quite necessary legalities, please see my earlier lecture on the function of bureaucracy to learn why.
so that’s an eligibility worker or case manager working through the interview and data entry, a document management technician doing the scan and attaching to the case, the paper archivist, and then managers and facilities for all of these people, upper managers to review and improve program efficiency, IT staff to manage the programs and data servers, business intelligence guys to report it all to the feds accurately, etc. etc. etc.
at the end of the day, sufficiently auditing (punishing) the recipient requires something like 20-24 hours of work between all these people, at various levels of pay, all of which must be repeated for every recertification period or at any time the household’s situation changes - check out the rules here. taking a non-academic average of salary + benefits + facilities, equipment, and consumables brings us to a per-hour unit average cost of something like $47. in other words it will cost maine close to $1000 minimum per person per year to follow through with implementing this policy. state dollars, not federal.
in other words, this program doesn’t provide maine with any overall financial/tax relief benefit:
total overall funds allotted to SNAP benefits for able-bodied no dependents persons between 18-49 annually: $15,000,000
projected cost of monitoring population annually: $11,280,000 ($47 x 20h x 12,000 persons - MINIMUM. mind you, this is only with once-a-year monitoring.)
unless over 75% of the current recipients of those funds are lying fraudsters who will be cut from the rolls due to this new requirement, maine is paying too much to punish its poor. it would be considerably less expensive to have less monitoring.
it all depends on the value you are trying to put forward. is it “justify your existence with work”? then you’re still fine. is it “cut the leeches from the state teat”? trust me, you are simply shuffling the “leeches” from one teat to another. and trying to accomplish one by means of the other is a child’s simple fancy unworthy of any further discussion.