The Joys Of Public Assistance

Posted in San Francisco on  | 3 minutes | 3 Comments →

I understand that many people abuse public services. Lazy people who could otherwise contribute to society often devise elaborate and persuasive schemes for sucking off the social tit. So in that respect I understand the mindless, morbid, legalistic religiosity most social services are compelled to employ, and I further suspect the screening process disfavors inquisitive intellectuals. After all, a surefire way to ensure that rules are enforced unilaterally is to get blind followers who never question the rules to do the enforcing. The State of California’s EBT Food Assistance program operates exactly like this. If you fail to cross one T or dot even a single I, they’ll expel you from the program and force you to reapply from step one.

Now in their defense, they do in fact tell you all this from step one. Besides, I don’t have much of a problem with the stipulation. But what I do have a problem with is EBT officials forcing an individual to reapply from step one in response to errors that were legitimately out of that person’s control.

The income ceiling for EBT recipients is $900 a month. I received one single SDI check in the amount of $1,098 and they cut me from the program, even though since the date of my injury three months ago, I’ve received less than $500 a month. Furthermore, the day after EBT cut me off, SDI cut me off because my orthopedic surgeon mistakenly listed my discontinuation date as the day after my surgery. Now I don’t know by what miracles of modern medicine they expect a man to recover from clavicle surgery in 24 hours, and I don’t want to bore you with details about my EBT case. I only wish to point out the fact that although I’ve received less than $300 since the month of April, EBT dropped my case. They now tell me I have to start the entire process from step one. That means getting down there, waiting 3-4 hours, filling out a lot of paperwork, more waiting, and usually 2-3 more trips like this before any progress. It’s not easy or quick, surely to discourage the lazy, and being the impatient type of guy I am, I don’t really consider three days of red tape worth one more month of benefits. But surely by next week I’ll get really, really hungry and change my mind.

So I offer brief advice to those who construct and enforce social policies:

Undue rigidity, while perhaps dissuading abuse of the system, also abuses those who have not abused the system. Stop being mindless legalists and enact some flexible legislation to allow an occasional exception for those of us who aren’t getting over on America.


  1. Vicki


    ..and what is truly sad is this started out as a means to help people truly in need…and like a lot of “assistance” programs they have lost sight on who the person in need is…
    ps we would never let you starve :))

  2. Greg Lang


    I enjoy this post due to the fact that I have had similar thoughts to what you are writing about. It seems that no matter who you are or what you do you will be pushed to “work for it” in some way. I hate the scheme of manufacturer rebates given to people after making a purchase on some merchandise. You must work to get that rebate. If you are lazy there is a large profit involved for the manufacturer. I have noticed that the Parking Authority is extremely abusive as well. They give you tickets for violations that were not broken. The scam is in the fact that to fight a $40.00 ticket is not worth as much the time taken off work to go into court and fight the ticket. It seems that the abuse is on both sides of society, the public as well as the bureaucracy.

  3. cl


    @ Greg,
    DPT pulls exactly the same stunts here in the City. Watch ’em!

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