Sunday, November 22, 2009
Who Do We Trust with Our Tax Dollars? Who Should We Trust, Instead?
I thought I'd do something different today for comparison's sake. With everyone sufficiently indignant at our banking system, our government's response, and at the abuses within the Bailout, I thought I might provide some needed contrast. The details which follow first are the literal steps one has no choice but to follow to attain food stamps in Washington, DC. I pulled certain phrases off of an advocacy website PDF here but the construction is largely mine.
How to Obtain Food Stamps in the District of Columbia
1. Sit in line at the Food Stamp office nearest you and, while waiting, fill out a 12 page form.
Print the form and fill out all 12 pages.
2. To make sure you do not try to cheat the system, you will first be required to reveal your
a) Household income
b) Cash present on hand
c) Rent and utility costs
3. You will then be asked to provide
a) where you work (if you are, in fact, employed)
b) your employer's name and telephone number
c) when you started working for them
d) how much your paycheck is before taxes
e) and how often you get paid
4. If you or anyone else in your household makes some degree of income, repeat step 3
5. If you have a bank account, you are required to prove it by providing a bank statement
6. If you own anything else besides your home, you are required to state that you do.
7. If you have stocks and/or bonds, please respond in in the affirmative.
8. Did you sell, trade, or give away anything more than $1,000 in the past three (3) years? If so, please mark "yes" and attach a description to this form.
9. Provide the exact dollar amount of that which you pay in rent. Don't forget to leave out utilities if not included in rent and whether or not you pay for air-conditioning and heating costs separate from your rent.
10. Mail form. Wait approximately three and a half weeks for a reply, only to be told after four separate phone calls spent futilely trying to speak to an actual person that, due to a severe backlog in unprocessed claims, it may be up to a month and a half before your paperwork is processed.
Drop off form at Food Stamps office. Speak to case worker after waiting for several hours. Turn in form. Wait approximately three and a half weeks for a reply, only to be after four separate phone calls spent futilely trying to speak to an actual person that, due to a severe backlog in unprocessed claims, it may be up to a month and a half before your paperwork is processed.
12. Keep waiting.
13. Finally receive form in mail informing of date to meet with caseworker to determine whether Food Stamps will be granted. Date is eight business days from when one received notice.
14. Collect necessary documentation to prove identity. This includes:
a) Photo ID/Drivers' license
b) Recent rent receipt, copy of lease, mortgage payment, or landlord’s name and phone number.
c) Proof of income, last three pay stubs, VA benefits, educational scholarships, grants or loans, unemployment payments, or your employer’s name and phone number.
d) Proof of Housing Expense: Recent rent or mortgage payment receipts. This includes receipts of all recent utility bill(s): phone, gas, electric, and water. All of these documents must have your address printed on them.
e) Bank statements: If one has an account at a bank or credit union, bring a recent bank statement or bankbook. Also if you have any other type of financial account (for example, a CD) be sure to bring that, too.
f) Social Security Card
g) Proof of any Assets: Bring proof of ownership for buildings, land, policies, burial arrangements or plots, and/or other property (not your home that you stay in) you reported in your application.
15. After all hoops have been jumped through and forms brought to the attention and signed off by the appropriate party, wait for judgment about food stamps.
16. Ten days later, judgment is granted. Realize that $100.12 per month means approximately one week's worth of groceries for one person. Shrug and say to self that every little bit matters.
17. Attend mandatory EBT Card (Food Stamp) card training before receiving. Training lasts approximately 15 to 20 minutes.
18. Proceed directly to grocery store.
How to Obtain Bailout Money in the District of Columbia
1. Be a CEO of a large financial institute.
2. State that you are nearly bankrupt, but too big to fail.
3. Collect emergency funds.