Sunday, July 13, 2014

A Food Stamp Mom With Mercedes Benz Entitlement Issues

Darlena Cunha writes at WaPo:
Two weeks before my children were born, my future husband found himself staring at a pink slip. The days of unemployment turned into weeks, months, and, eventually, years...
In just two months, we’d gone from making a combined $120,000 a year to making just $25,000 and leeching out funds to a mortgage we couldn’t afford. Our savings dwindled, then disappeared.
So I did what I had to do. I signed up for Medicaid and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children...
That’s the funny thing about being poor. Everyone has an opinion on it, and everyone feels entitled to share. That was especially true about my husband’s Mercedes. Over and over again, people asked why we kept that car, offering to sell it in their yards or on the Internet for us.
“You can’t be that bad off,” a distant relative said, after inviting himself over for lunch. “You still got that baby in all its glory.”
Sometimes, it was more direct. All from a place of love, of course. “Sell the Mercedes,” a friend said to me. “He doesn’t get to keep his toys now.”
But it wasn’t a toy — it was paid off. My husband bought that car in full long before we met. Were we supposed to trade it in for a crappier car we’d have to make payments on? Only to have that less reliable car break down on us?
And even if we had wanted to do that, here’s what people don’t understand: The reality of poverty can spring quickly while the psychological effects take longer to surface. When you lose a job, your first thought isn’t, “Oh my God, I’m poor. I’d better sell all my nice stuff!” It’s “I need another job. Now.” When you’re scrambling, you hang on to the things that work, that bring you some comfort. That Mercedes was the one reliable, trustworthy thing in our lives.


  1. In all fairness, she makes a couple of good points. After TARP, how much time to spend on such people?

    "My husband and I like coke and prostitutes, we found a good prostitute..."

  2. I never object to keeping a paid-for car. But what bothers me about what I've seen around this article (not in the article its self, but what's been written about it) is the attitude that people should spend and spend and spend during the boom times and then when the bust comes we are to provide help for the hapless. And that's what I don't like, the encouragement not to save, the government will have your back.

    In this case she mentions in the full article they had savings to get by for a good long time, but it's not like there was any settling for a lesser job when they dwindled. It's such a small mention one will miss it without looking, but that should have been front and center. Otherwise the message is 'spend while the spending is good, have the government cover the downside risk with other people's wealth'.

  3. Don't judge unless you have been there.

  4. "Were we supposed to trade it in for a crappier car we’d have to make payments on? "

    I smell a fallacious argument here. Perhaps a red herring? Obviously no one (clear thinking) is advocating she sell the Mercedes to go further into debt to buy a car for which you will have to make payments. However, if they are going to accept welfare, they might have considered selling it to purchase a less expensive vehicle like a Toyota Corolla. They could have used the difference to offset their expenses. (This assumes that the Mercedes had a high enough resale value. I seriously doubt anyone would object to her keeping a 20 year old Mercedes.)