Once there was a stigma to going on the dole, and it was seen as a last resort. But now the Agriculture Department runs radio and TV ads prodding people to get the free food, as in a recent campaign that says food stamps will help you lose weight. A federal website boasts about strategies that have "increased program participation" with special emphasis on Hispanics because "our data show that many low-income Latinos simply don't apply for [food stamps] even though they're eligible."
I had the good fortune to experience a society where the people are completely dependent on the State for their basic necessities. In the summer of 1980, I was an exchange student in Leningrad, USSR. We tend to think that a Communist society has armed gorilla-like guards swarming the streets, that everyone dresses the same, and no one looks happy for fear of betraying any emotion lest they get dragged off to a labor camp. That is not true and although their are plenty of human rights violations, for the average person it meant a sort of day-to-day existence of scrambling to find razor blades, suddenly changing plans to stand in line for an hour because a state produce store got in an unexpected shipment of oranges (yes, I saw that happen and I stood in line for the chance to buy two - count them, two - Morrocan oranges), sharing an apartment with people you don't like because that is how the government housing allotment turned out, or realizing that the state department store will never have your size shoe in the color you want, so you make do with the ugly gray and use old newspaper to stuff the space because it is a size-and-a-half too big.
|Been there, done that. BTW, the sign on the store boils it down to the basics: MEAT.|