Poor people, right? Visit the "news of the weird" section of a major media site and you'll find a gauntlet of undesirables engaging in such wacky antics as getting into drunk fistfights at McDonald's and whatnot. And, in basically all of these cases, what you're reading barely qualifies as news. It's Internet rubbernecking and -- as far as most news outlets are concerned -- anyone below the poverty line is fair game as a source of national amusement (and it's not unlike similar stunts the news pulls on Asian people and the youths).
Don't believe us? Then how else do you explain the following stories ...
5"Poor People Are Living Like Kings On Food Stamps!"
Even if you're a staunch conservative, you're probably on board with SNAP, or food stamps as we used to call them back in the day. After all, nobody wants American kids starving to death because their parents can't get their financial act together, right?
Unless those scheming lowlifes abuse the goodwill of tax-paying citizens by using food stamps to buy drugs or steak and lobster or accrue a balance worth several thousand dollars in their accounts, as evidenced by photographs of receipts harmlessly posted by cashiers who secretly want to be investigative reporters. According to this overarching narrative, broke people should exist on ramen, Cheez Whiz, and errant cockroaches, as God intended.
"They're the lobsters of the land!"
Keep in mind that anyone -- even the completely boneheaded, as we'll see -- can mock up a fake receipt. Case in point: One viral Facebook post purporting to show the receipt of someone with a food stamp balance of $15,464.00. Right off the bat, anyone who's ever balanced a checkbook knows that no one ever has a balance ending in ".00" unless they're either a wizard or suffering from a highly specific form of OCD.
via Washington Post
That's no more than 1 percent of the population, according to the
Hogwarts Institute of Mental Health.
Second, the receipt is labeled as the grammatically offensive "Foodstamplable EBT balance," which is inconsistent with the rest of the receipt and everything anyone has ever typed. It also exploits a hilarious credulity regarding how much benefits recipients are even capable of receiving. As the Washington Post points out, it's theoretically possible to carry a food stamp balance of over $15,000 in Michigan, where the story comes from and where benefits roll over from month to month -- for a family of nine, who have zero income and never use their benefits. If anything, we should praise this family that apparently lives for the year on one bottle of lemonade and one bag of BBQ chips.
The steak and lobster thing is real, though -- in the "shit's about to get real" sense. The offender was arrested, showing that the system works after all, but not for buying steak and lobster -- that's completely legal. If you think it shouldn't be, take that up with your lawmakers, but first consider that maybe your hypothetical shopper scrimped all month so they could have a nice dinner at the end of it because it's all that keeps them from offing themselves, because poor people are -- get this -- people.
Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images
"Also, poor kids can't watch the FUN Sesame Street reruns. Not on the taxpayer's dime."
But no, the shopper in question was arrested because he didn't have himself in mind when he bought the steak and lobster (and Mountain Dew -- everyone always forgets the Mountain Dew, like that isn't the most morally objectionable part of the list). He turned around and sold it to other people at a profit, which is a crime. Consider this, though: If you find yourself so broke that you've resorted to selling black market Mountain Dew, you're not exactly winning in the first place.
4"Poor People Only Eat Junk!"
Paul Morigi/WireImage/Getty Images
Speaking of sticking our noses in poor people's refrigerators, the economic crisis has spurred tons of articles purporting to teach readers how to eat healthy on $1 a day. It's also been the catalyst for celebrity challenges like the Food Bank NYC Challenge and the Live Below the Line challenge, ostensibly to raise awareness about how difficult it is to live in poverty, but in some cases, in true Gwyneth Paltrow fashion, also to say "I'm better than you at everything, including being poor." After all, everyone knows that the reason people are starving and suffering with obesity-related diseases in alarming numbers is that they're too stupid to figure out how to not die.
Chris Hondros/Getty Images News/Getty Images
"Just tell them how many calories are in that stuff. That'll change everything!"
For one thing, it turns out poor people are a lot more nutritionally competent than the news gives them credit for. For example, the idea that poor people drink more soda is a myth. So why can't everyone eat like alternate-dimension Gwyneth Paltrow? It probably has something to do with the fact that Gwyneth (and many of those writers) can afford to take a week off to devote herself entirely to the task, not to mention her football-team-sized household staff. One story shows a dude spending hours creating a complicated spreadsheet to balance this game of financial Tetris. You just don't have time for that at the end of a double shift at the dildo factory. Also, all of the above assumes your neighborhood isn't in a food desert that lacks easy access to fruits, vegetables, and other foodstuffs that aren't shilled by literal clowns.
For another thing? Gwyneth failed. She lasted only four days, and it's no wonder, looking at the shit she bought:
Hopefully those lime-and-garlic smoothies cleansed her colon of all the shit she was full of.
She apparently intended to live entirely on burritos, which, to be fair, is not a bad way to live, but it does get a little stale after four days, literally. She's not the only one, either. Ben Affleck could bring himself to commit to only one day on the Live Below the Line challenge, and the lady from that ABC piece up there was eating only 1,200 calories daily and lost 10 pounds after a month of eating two meals a day "focusing on whole-grain foods." Maybe that works for her, but a mother who isn't keen on stunting anyone's growth might have a problem with it. It might actually be better in this case to just break down and hit the drive-through.
But then you have the problem that ...