Excuse me, that’s my tax money

Today I had a weird thing happen. I became the person I judge on a daily basis. I went through the grocery checkout, paid with my EBT cash card that gets automatically refilled every month by some magic bureaucratic minion, and then went and bought a Powerball ticket. I could see the look on the cashier’s face and, maybe only because I’ve had that same look so many times, instantly knew what she was thinking. “If she’s getting government money, why is she wasting money on a lottery ticket?” It wasn’t mean-spirited, it was almost a sense of personal hurt at the fact that her tax dollars were paying for my groceries and my money was paying for a Powerball ticket (dear cashier, wherever you are, if I win I will absolutely share!).

As a huge proponent of welfare reform and someone who fully supports the idea of not using anyone else’s tax dollars for something considered a luxury, I get it. I’ve been in her shoes. I’ve felt the same things I’m sure were running through her mind.

But here’s what she didn’t know – and couldn’t be expected to.

  • I work an average of 30 hours a week and come home exhausted, to the point my arms are so exhausted that by Friday morning I can’t apply my own makeup
  • I pay someone $400 a month to get me back and forth to work – out of my pocket – because there is no program to pay for someone to get me to work (it’s not considered vital to living)
  • I don’t qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) because my income is too high…and trust me, it’s not that high

Those $10 a month from that card are what I get from the government to help with any of the extra costs associated with having a disability. And that is why I’m such a proponent of welfare reform. You shouldn’t have to live in poverty just because you’re disabled. There are ways around it, but in most states the waiting list for the waiver (allowing those with disabilities to earn a reasonable income and still receive the help they need) is 3 or more years. I’ll remain a proponent of welfare reform for as long as it takes, because I will forever think that you get what you work for, but after today’s reminder of what it feels like from the other side I’ll make an effort to keep my inner monologue a little more understanding.

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As far as the Powerball goes…I’ll keep you posted.

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