Cassy Fiano used to have a regular political site (and actually still does; it’s just that she hasn’t added anything to it since June), but, after having a second baby, a son, Wyatt, with Down syndrome, writes on a new site, as well as elsewhere. The wife of a Marine, she recently posted this article:
September 15th, 2012 Cassy Fiano
When I had Benjamin, I almost immediately signed up for WIC. It would be helpful, I thought, to save some money for a family living off of one military paycheck. So we signed up and used the vouchers for quite some time. But I always felt somewhat guilty about it.
Why? The benefits were there. We qualified for it. Lord knows we aren’t rich, and there’s no shame in accepting help when you need it. And therein lied the problem for me. There came a point when I couldn’t erase that thought in my head. Do we really need WIC?
Almost everyone I know, every military family, uses WIC. Most of them claim they need it to get by — and I’m not saying they don’t. I don’t know their finances. But I kept feeling like this wasn’t something we couldn’t survive without. We have cable, internet, smart phones, a new car. We went out to eat on a somewhat regular basis, were able to buy ourselves things here and there. And so I eventually made the decision not to be on WIC. I decided that I wasn’t going to take money from the government just because I could — not when it wasn’t truly necessary.
The humorous thing is the reaction I get from people when they hear that we aren’t on WIC. The level of shock is funny. It’s like they just cannot understand how a family of four could not be on WIC. When I explain that I don’t use it, even though we qualify, because I know we don’t truly need it, people look at me as if I’ve grown two heads. I know that this decision makes me somewhat of an anomaly among many military families, but I felt this was the best thing for us to do.
If we ever really, truly need WIC, then I might feel differently about taking advantage of it. But for now, as long as we’re able to enjoy the luxuries we do, we’re just going to continue making it by on our own.
There was a time when we were a one-income family of four, and not a very big income at that. Whether we could have qualified for WIC, I do not know, because we never tried; it never even crossed my mind. Things were tight, and my darling bride (of 33 years, 3 months and 27 days now) was very good at stretching a dollar. Rice and soy sauce are cheap, and can really extend a meal.1
Now, this was before smart phones, and really before many people had a cell phone, so we didn’t have that expense. We didn’t have cable. Our one car was, if not a beater, bought used, not new.2 The internet was, if not in its infancy, still a toddler, and at $24.95 a month for America Online access, via a dial-up modem, definitely a luxury.
Cassy’s article was posted just today, and not a single mention of the fact that her second son has Down syndrome. With her husband being a Marine, they have good health insurance, but apparently having a child who will develop at least somewhat handicapped still didn’t stop her from realizing that her family and she could survive without welfare.
And welfare is just what WIC is. It is a specialized form of welfare, to be sure, but if WIC is providing food for families with small children, that frees up some of the families’ other money for other things, things which can include the “cable, internet, (and) smart phones” Cassy mentioned that her family had when she decided to get off WIC. Money, after all, is fungible, and if the families’ money saved by using WIC goes to luxury items — and your Editor would certainly call smart phones a luxury item3 — then WIC is, in effect, paying for luxuries.
Would the American people really support welfare payments to buy people smart phones? Put that way, I would guess that the majority of Americans would say not just no, but Hell no!
One obvious problem with Cassy’s story is that her family was eligible for WIC in the first place. There are many public employees your Editor believes are overpaid, but military service members are not among them: our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines ought to be paid much, much more than they are.4 But the second problem is that families who have enough money to pay for computers, the internet, smart phones and new cars are eligible for welfare, in any form, period. Welfare, insofar as it can be justified at all, should be only for those families who cannot provide the necessities of life for themselves; we certainly should not be paying for luxury items.
- One of my favorite meals was fried chicken livers, rice and spinach, which we had reasonably frequently, but for some reason, nobody else seems to think sounds very good. One day, Patrick, the neighbor’s kid, who was about five or six at the time, invited himself over for dinner, and it just happened to be a chicken livers and rice and spinach meal. For some reason I cannot explain, Patrick never invited himself over for dinner again. ↩
- I had a company truck at the time, which certainly helped. ↩
- Enough of a luxury item that your Editor doesn’t need one and chooses not to have one. In my line of work, a smart phone would get destroyed fairly quickly. ↩
- Yes, I have two daughters in the United States Army Reserve, but I have believed this well before they enlisted. ↩