Think Freely Media presents Common Sense with Paul Jacob

Wealth on Welfare

Should a $2 million lottery winner be heartlessly denied food stamps?

In the Philadelphia Inquirer, Jay Ostrich, public affairs director at the Commonwealth Foundation for Public Policy, tells the story of “Leroy Fick, who won a $2 million lottery jackpot, but still legally collected food stamps.”

That is, until “Michigan enacted a $5,000 asset test” for those applying for food stamps, thereby stopping “exploiters such as Fick from taking advantage of the system.”

Now the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare is doing likewise, implementing rules to block food stamps for anyone under 60 with $2,000 or more in assets ($3,250 if over 60 years of age) — excluding one’s home, car, a second car (if valued under $4,650) and retirement savings.

With state and federal welfare spending up 52 percent since 2002, and the friendly state facing a budget crunch, an estimated 2 percent of recipients could be affected to the tune of $50 million in annual savings.

But Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter calls the change “one of the most mean-spirited, asinine proposals to come out of Harrisburg in decades.” It’s “a disgrace,” according to State Sen. Shirley Kitchen (D-Philadelphia).

The Philadelphia Inquirer editorialized against the asset test on the grounds that it would “punish families for having a few dollars in a bank account.”

Punish? Not getting a handout is hardly punishment. The law just means that those with significant assets have to buy their own groceries.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.

By: Redactor


  1. Richard Sava says:

    Correct again, Mr. Jacob.
    However, I think it should also extend to things like automobiles also.
    My wife and I have some nice things. We try to provide our children with a comfortable life style. We are not on public assistance in any way, shape or form. We have the $2000 tv, gaming system, computers etc. However, we both drive 10 y/old cars and don’t spend money frivolously. We pay our bills and are trying to get completely out of debt.
    When I see people I know who get/use food stamps but have the $2000 tv, $350 gaming system and the 1 year old car with $450/month payments I want to start a revolution. I actually know a family on assistance whose son did not know how to return a book to the library because “we normally just go buy book when he needs them for a project. Hmmm, free library books or pay for books when you can’t afford your own groceries. And they wonder why they never get ahead.

  2. BetteRose says:

    My sister couldn’t have $2,000 in assets at all including car, home, or personal items because she was handicapped and living on SSI. Seems to me that this was a little extreme but if one can have a home and TWO cars and personal effects, then if you have $2,000, well, then I say you can buy your own food. My sister had to! Heck these people can even have retirement funds. My sister had to account for every extra penny she had. If she could do it, they can too.

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  4. Mike says:

    The law has had a resource test for food stamps in PA for well over 30 years, where have you been? The PA DPW does, however, disregard resources for households with children in them.

  5. […] the original here: Wealth on Welfare This entry was posted in Food & Groceries and tagged commonwealth, denied-food, […]

  6. Paul Jacob says:

    Mike — Check out the links and you’ll see that in 2002 they did away with the “asset test”. They are now bringing it back.

  7. Jay says:

    In general I agree, but I think that we should also abolish welfare for the affluent- and also most of the corporate welfare (like the agriculture subsidies; the Rural Electrification; etc.)-as a start.

    But $2,000? I think a little extreme- that is barely for a family of 4 or so (in a place like NY or Cal., probably Fl- where I live- 2 months worth of bills).

    I do agree that someone who wins $2 million should not get food stamps; and a few months ago, someone won more in Mass., and was still collecting food stamps.

    And people with kids, who are working and struggling to pay bills- with the costs of food and other necessities not getting assistance, they ‘earn too much” is a disgrace.

    And, yes, I work.

  8. Paul Jacob says:

    Jay — I’m with you on farm subsidies, corporate welfare, etc, etc. And even in PA they are considering what the right point is for the asset test. But that there should be an asset test seems indisputable. And I’m convinced the sooner we can get government out of the charity business, the better for the poor. I think churches and private non-profit charities are a far better answer.

  9. MoreFreedom says:

    What is mean spirited, are those who believe it’s moral to forcibly take from productive citizens, only to give it to parasites, including those who waste money purchasing lottery tickets. If Nutter or the Inquirer think otherwise, they are free to give their own money to lottery winners or others.

  10. Duane Bass says:

    Should just cancel FS, and if you are hungry, go to the shelter and stand in line for a hand out. Like they did in the 1930’s. . .
    You dont work, you dont eat!

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