The House passed a bill that prohibits welfare recipients from using their government subsidy in strip clubs, liquor stores and casinos. It’s sad that rather than actually pursuing government fraud and waste on a large scale, they continue to villainize the poor–as if most welfare recipients ARE actually spending their money in strip clubs, liquor stores and casinos.
This assessment is based on an idea to/that portrays poor people who require a little assistance from the government to meet basic life needs as wasteful. There may be some truth to this, but of course, not in the way it is framed and for the purposes (frivolous enjoyment/entertainment) suggested by the elite Congress and the ignorant who fall for their ridiculous propaganda.
Lack of supermarket access
In order to understand the liquore store phenomenon, you’ll need to take note of a some things. There are few, if any, grocery stores in low income neighborhoods:
Data confirm lack of supermarket access in poor neighborhoods
“A recent analysis by the Brookings Institution, in collaboration with The Reinvestment Fund (TRF), finds that nearly 2 million residents of low- and moderate-income communities in 10 large U.S. metropolitan areas lack access to something most of us take for granted—a local supermarket. Tens of millions more lack supermarket access outside the focus areas studied by Brookings and its partners.
‘Poor families and people of color don’t have enough access to the fresh fruits and vegetables they need to live a healthy life,’ said Judith Bell, president of the national equity advocacy organization PolicyLink, commenting on the data in a press release. ‘It’s no wonder that these same communities are hit hardest by obesity and diabetes. We must help supermarkets, farmers markets, and other fresh food stores open in under-served areas – bringing jobs, economic stability, and healthy food to communities in need of all three.’” Source: Switchboard
Access to transportation is expensive
Since poor communities are underserved, residents must leave the neighborhood if they want to shop at a grocery store or big-box general merchandise store (Walmart, Target, etc.). This poses a transportation problem. While marginalized people might have access to a vehicle, it’s more likely that they’ll pay exuberant costs to take public transportation. In addition, more trips to the store must be made because of limitations on how much can be carried by hand each trip. More trips, more unavailable money.
The farther the person must travel for groceries, the higher the transportation cost and burden on them. For this reason, people who are condemned to a life in these neighborhoods are cast away–hidden in the nook and crannies of America–and subjected to shopping for food in their invisible cage, coined “the hood”. Consequently, healthy food is more than an arm’s length from the cage.
Stores that ARE available in the hood
Most hoods have convenience stores: mom and pops, corner stores and liquor stores. And, if the corporate chains (Walgreens, CVS, dollar stores, etc) see an opportunity to exploit the community, a few chain stores may be available.
Because of this, the poor people are forced to decide between spending more for their “goods” at the local convenience stores or spending more to travel outside the community, if they even have the resources to shop elsewhere and return. Even with stress as a factor, it is still illogical to go through the hassle of paying less outside of the community, so they pay the higher prices for the convenience–they don’t have the luxury of considering options when goods are desperately needed. There’s no time to bargain shop, wait for public transportation, or convince a fellow struggler to take on the hassle of giving you a ride to and from the store when needs are urgent.
Trafficking goods to the hood
When you look at the supply chain of the hood stores, the prices are higher because of the inability to buy in as much bulk as large chains. The mom and pops, corner stores, and liquor stores charge more for their goods because they are already paying an upcharge for purchasing from those same stores that are inaccessible to the people of the community. For instance, the mom and pop store might shop at Costo or Sam’s Club across town, and then sell those good purchased in bulk to their customers in the hood. In order for them to make a profit, they must charge more than what they paid for the items, plus the cost of traveling to the store and back–transportation. They merely serve as the bridge between the people of the community and the stores that are beyond reach.
So when we talk about people in the hood using welfare funds to purchase goods at a liquor store, this doesn’t necessarily translate to wastefulness on the part of the consumer, albeit waste. Did it it ever occur to people that they may not actually be purchasing liquor from the liquor store? If they weren’t cut off from access to lower cost goods, or if traveling was a convenience, rather than an inconvenience, assistance could be spent efficiently. It wouldn’t be wasteful if we didn’t have a tiered, segregated, classist society. The answer is not to stop relief funds, but to restructure the lopsided economy–higher priced goods in poor communities, where those who those who can afford it the least are relegated to paying the most for items they need to live and survive.
The results of the Congressional bill
As a result of the Congressional bill to prohibit spending welfare funds in liquor stores, not only are the marginalized shut out of shopping beyond the hood, but the bill would cut them off from buying goods where they live–the only place they reasonably CAN shop. Congress and those in support of the bill must truly want to starve poor people to death!