Breaking Mountain Pride and the SNAP Program

Fox News re-aired a special report on the food stamp situation in the US and how it has changed in recent years. There are definitely people who need food assistance – but I think the vast majority of it can admit that there is also more than enough fraud in the system. Like most government programs – there are people who abuse the system and people who simply scam the system.

There were several parts of that special that really ticked me off —

1 – The “ad campaign” to “sell” food stamps (EBT cards and SNAP) to the Hispanic population. Ten parts to the story – each one meant to break down one more form of resistance for people who likely don’t really need food stamps (EBT cards and SNAP) but are convinced to sign up anyway — for free stuff. — I am happy to note the ad campaign has been suspended because someone decided it wasn’t the sort of material they wanted to be connected to the program.

2 – The example illustrated by the surfer musician who doesn’t want to get a job and who thinks its great that the tax payers “give” him a couple of hundred dollars in free food. Of course he isn’t the average food stamp recipient, but he isn’t the only person with that mentality either.

And 3 – Breaking “mountain pride”. The special focused on one area – but it was about the government discouraging and disparaging people who are proud and who want to take care of and provide for themselves and their families. In my mind – that is a good attitude to have. But that attitude does not lead to a dependence on the government and in some cases, it can lead to suspicion about the government.

Let me add that I’m from a rural area and a town of about 23,000 people. I have family members who have that “mountain pride” that they will care for themselves and help their neighbors when tough times hit. My grandmother – who I am like in many ways – is definitely this kind of person.  She has worked very hard her entire life, basically raised 7 children on her own, bought her own house years ago and paid it off in less than 10 years and on and on and on. She has an incredible work ethic and doesn’t understand how others can whine and complain – expecting others to do everything for them. At 93, she lives on her own in the mountains and is legally blind. Not exactly the kind of person Obama is thrilled about – but I think the world of her 🙂  Neither of us have a lot and certainly aren’t rich financially – but we have the pride and satisfaction that we earned and paid for the things we do have.

I found an article that explains the desire to “break mountain pride”. There were a number of interesting and other comments were disturbing about the mentality and perception of people who look down on people who have “mountain pride”.

http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2012/jul/11/the-war-on-mountain-pride/

Some excerpts –

Deep in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains, government officials are on the hunt. Unlike most government agents who’ve taken to these hills, however, they aren’t searching for moonshine stills. They are tracking down folks who refuse to accept food stamps.

~*~

In an effort to make even more Americans reliant on government handouts, local social workers are being offered rewards to encourage them to sign up additional new food stamp recipients.

~*~

Mountain pride prevents many Appalachian residents from accepting food stamps even though they’re eligible, according to the Ashe County North Carolina Department of Social Services. As a result, social workers in the rural Appalachian county, which borders Tennessee and Virginia, are developing strategies and offering rewards for defeating mountain pride. Apparently, as they see it, they need to get more silly hillbillies to take their government handouts like other Americans

Appalachian culture, above all else, is defined by self-reliance. Where cities had specialists — carpenters, blacksmiths, tanners and bakers, for example — isolation created by the difficult terrain meant Appalachian settlers and generations of their descendants were forced to be jacks of all trades. Every person was his own butcher, baker and candlestick maker.

If hard times hit or tragedy struck, these tough souls didn’t rely on the government for assistance. They simply persevered, maybe with a helping hand from their church or their closest neighbors, who were often miles away.

~*~

And the most revealing comment in the article —

The Obama administration’s frustration with mountain pride only further indicates that the true goal in expanding the food stamp program isn’t just about helping Americans. It’s also an effort to give away as many government handouts as possible in the hopes that recipients of the handouts will vote for Obama.

~*~

The first comment really got me riled up and shows how thoroughly this commenter misses the point – and how she slipped into the usual talking points….

Yeah, these tough sods kept themselves poor, and made their children suffer, because they wouldn’t take aid from the government. Their pride has sure served them well.

Really, you think you’re not pandering to their false pride yourself? Except you’re trying to make them take comfort in their willful suffering and misery even as you would blatantly ignore their needs. You’re just feeding them what you think they want to hear, in order to get their support. Your praise is as false as anything else.

Especially since you really don’t want them to prosper. That’s the kind of thing that lead to moonshining, and then marijuana cultivation and now meth manufacture. Thanks, the people sure appreciate you, since I’m sure you don’t even care that you support criminalizing the first two so you can get more and more private prison contracts.

But hey, just let you bulldoze a few mountains away to get at the coal, and let the money go into the hands of a few wealthy oligarchs while the people who do the work, and suffer the injuries of their labors are left to suffer from Black Lung disease.

Pride, it keeps people blind.

Image from – http://media-cdn.tripadvisor.com/media/photo-s/01/08/8c/f8/museum-of-appalachia.jpg

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