Author Topic: Food stamps with a mercedes-benz  (Read 19606 times)

nereo

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Food stamps with a mercedes-benz
« on: July 08, 2014, 10:29:59 AM »
An interesting article in today's Washington Post.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2014/07/08/this-is-what-happened-when-i-drove-my-mercedes-to-pick-up-food-stamps/?hpid=z11

The author describes her plummet from a typical upper-middle class lifestyle to poverty, and the embarrassment she felt  throughout the ordeal.  A few things that jumped out at me:
how fast their seemingly stable life was turned upside-down
how unprepared they seemed to be for a "worst-case scenario"
and how difficult it was to realize that this was a "hair-on-fire emergency" that required immediate and drastic actions.

When the s*&t hit the fan they couldn't part with their reliable mercedes, they didn't have enough savings or equity to cope with a $90k drop in their home, and they experienced a prolonged unemployment.

Stories like this just double my resolve to never fall into such a trap.

trailrated

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Re: Food stamps with a mercedes-benz
« Reply #1 on: July 08, 2014, 10:40:55 AM »
Somehow the comments sections call her brave, etc. When I read this it seemed to be apparent she valued the Mercedes above feeding her own family. Insane.

so.mpls

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Re: Food stamps with a mercedes-benz
« Reply #2 on: July 08, 2014, 11:17:21 AM »
Somehow the comments sections call her brave, etc. When I read this it seemed to be apparent she valued the Mercedes above feeding her own family. Insane.

Agreed, this writer is frustrating to me.  Especially:

"But it wasn’t a toy — it was paid off ... 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?" 

That's not how it works.  Sell the luxury car, buy an economical model of similar age and mileage, and you're likely left with a more dependable car (or cheaper to fix at least), better mileage, and a wad of cash.  Or, just sell the thing and keep one car.  Do you really need two when your husband isn't working for years after the children are born (another issue in itself), and you're working part time?

I do empathize with the fact that their circumstances became difficult really quickly, especially their timing in buying a house, but the general woe is me attitude (complaining about having to go through a background check to get financial aid!!!) is just... ugh
« Last Edit: July 08, 2014, 11:20:27 AM by so.mpls »

dd564

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Re: Food stamps with a mercedes-benz
« Reply #3 on: July 08, 2014, 11:21:26 AM »

Is the moral of the story that you should not buy a luxury automobile until you have a sufficient worst-case emergency fund set up?


nereo

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Re: Food stamps with a mercedes-benz
« Reply #4 on: July 08, 2014, 11:23:09 AM »
Quote
That's not how it works.  Sell the luxury car, buy an economical model of similar age and mileage, and you're likely left with a more dependable car (or cheaper to fix at least), better mileage, and a wad of cash.  Or, just sell the thing and keep one car.  Do you really need two when your husband isn't working for years after the children are born (another issue in itself), and you're working part time?
Somehow I completely missed that they had two cars throughout this saga, with one person unemployed.  Yeah, she was "forced" to take the mercedes when her Honda wouldn't start that morning.  I wonder how the people who didn't have cars at all got there?
I don't fault them for having nice things - I fault them for not being prepared to handle a downturn, and *then* not adjusting very well once the downturn hit. 

bacchi

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Re: Food stamps with a mercedes-benz
« Reply #5 on: July 08, 2014, 11:41:09 AM »
Quote
The reality of poverty can spring quickly while the psychological effects take longer to surface.

I've seen friends go through this. The first month of unemployment, they treat it as an adventure and may even go on a long vacation. The 2nd month, they start to worry but a job offer is imminent -- why cut the cable now? The third month, they have some concern but they don't have to sell their beloved car and buy a reliable beater, not just yet. Etc.

Unless you have given it some thought and done some planning, the same reaction will happen to almost anyone.


nereo

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Re: Food stamps with a mercedes-benz
« Reply #6 on: July 08, 2014, 11:46:57 AM »

Is the moral of the story that you should not buy a luxury automobile until you have a sufficient worst-case emergency fund set up?
That's not quite how I see it - for starters she mentioned that it was his mercedes from before they got married.
To me, the lesson is to live in such a manner that your life can handle sudden unexpected drops.  This could be any combination of an emergency fund, savings, and living well below your means. But perhaps more importantly to this couple, when you suddenly can't afford your old lifestyle, adapt, and quickly!

amha

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''This is what happened when I drove my Mercedes to pick up food stamps"
« Reply #7 on: July 08, 2014, 12:30:53 PM »
Quote
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?

http://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2014/07/08/this-is-what-happened-when-i-drove-my-mercedes-to-pick-up-food-stamps/

grantmeaname

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That's trollbait if I've ever seen it. Maybe Washington and Huffington are combining their Posts?

HawkeyeNFO

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Re: Food stamps with a mercedes-benz
« Reply #9 on: July 08, 2014, 12:46:39 PM »
"President Obama’s programs — from the extended unemployment benefits to the tax-free allowance for short-selling a home we couldn’t afford — allowed us to crawl our way out of the hole."

Obamabucks to the rescue!!!! 


AH013

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This reminds me of the scene from Dick & Jane where, after having been laid off from his VP position at a big corporation, he takes an entry level job at Hollywood interpretation of Sam's Club to make ends meet, and then when he's subsequently fired he complains that nobody can afford to live off the meager salary that they're paying anyway....and then proceeds to hop into his new series luxury BMW, saying something to the effect that it was a car he got from his old job as a VP (and doesn't feel like he is under any obligation to sell it now that circumstances have changed and he really needs the money for day to day necessities rather than a luxury car).

Noodle

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Re: Food stamps with a mercedes-benz
« Reply #11 on: July 08, 2014, 01:37:27 PM »
Honestly, I can empathize with this family...it is a living case-study of the discussion going on in the "How insecure is your lifestyle?" (paraphrased) thread. Unplanned twins with health problems, plus a historic recession after a long period of prosperity, plus the general implosion of a field of work that had existed for a century, really are the perfect storm. Not many families would be prepared to take that many hits simultaneously.

And I clearly remember from a layoff...the worst part is not knowing when it's going to end. If you knew you were disabled, for instance, and never going back to work you could plan accordingly. But it's really hard to make decisions when you have no idea what tomorrow looks like; I also remember it being awfully hard to let go of anything material when I didn't know if I'd ever be able to replace it. Very few people in 2008 realized the true magnitude of the recession or how long job replacement would take. Add the mental fatigue of parenting infant multiples...hindsight is 20-20. In the moment, things are much less clear.

BFGirl

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Re: Food stamps with a mercedes-benz
« Reply #12 on: July 08, 2014, 01:55:09 PM »
Honestly, I can empathize with this family...it is a living case-study of the discussion going on in the "How insecure is your lifestyle?" (paraphrased) thread. Unplanned twins with health problems, plus a historic recession after a long period of prosperity, plus the general implosion of a field of work that had existed for a century, really are the perfect storm. Not many families would be prepared to take that many hits simultaneously.


I agree.  Also, the article did say that they had savings before these events and had to use the savings as a result of their situation.

soccerluvof4

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Re: Food stamps with a mercedes-benz
« Reply #13 on: July 08, 2014, 01:58:49 PM »
Just a random reminder ----back in the 80's when the government gave away cheese seeing all the people pull up in there brand new Cadillacs, Mercedes etc...  Use to piss me off and my Grandfather who volunteered his time.  Rant/over

Cpa Cat

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Re: Food stamps with a mercedes-benz
« Reply #14 on: July 08, 2014, 02:02:06 PM »
I actually kind of understand the Mercedes thing. My husband has a 1998 Jaguar. It's been pretty reliable - but it's got a variety of error lights that come on for things we've decided not to fix (due to them being non-essential and expensive to repair). The idea is to drive it into the ground. It's worth considerably less than my 2006 Honda Civic. But I assure you, no one looks twice at my Honda, while the Jaguar attracts eyeballs like a hot MILF.

The decision to dump the Jag would be an easy one if I were on foodstamps. But it wouldn't be if our other car was a less reliable car. The depreciation on those older luxury cars is brutal and it may appear as though you can't really get enough out of it to buy a car that is both cheaper and better. And it is definitely a devil-you-know situation - at least I know what's wrong with my 20 year old car. I can't say the same for someone else's!

But then... they didn't dump any car. So *facepalm*.

usmarine1975

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Re: Food stamps with a mercedes-benz
« Reply #15 on: July 08, 2014, 02:07:56 PM »
I worked on a multi-building low income housing project in the City near me for just over a year.  It wasn't low income for me but that's not my point.  Just 2 buildings down from the 1 building was a stand put up by a non-profit with donated bread for those in need.  I couldn't count the amount of BMW's or Mercedes that took advantage of that bread stand.  I can honestly say I never did.  It didn't feel right to me.

so.mpls

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Re: Food stamps with a mercedes-benz
« Reply #16 on: July 08, 2014, 02:28:07 PM »
I actually kind of understand the Mercedes thing. My husband has a 1998 Jaguar. It's been pretty reliable - but it's got a variety of error lights that come on for things we've decided not to fix (due to them being non-essential and expensive to repair). The idea is to drive it into the ground. It's worth considerably less than my 2006 Honda Civic. But I assure you, no one looks twice at my Honda, while the Jaguar attracts eyeballs like a hot MILF.

The decision to dump the Jag would be an easy one if I were on foodstamps. But it wouldn't be if our other car was a less reliable car. The depreciation on those older luxury cars is brutal and it may appear as though you can't really get enough out of it to buy a car that is both cheaper and better. And it is definitely a devil-you-know situation - at least I know what's wrong with my 20 year old car. I can't say the same for someone else's!

But then... they didn't dump any car. So *facepalm*.

You're right about the 16 y/o Jaguar, but a 6 year old Benz is a different story.  Unless they put an absolutely ridiculous amount miles on it, it probably still would have been worth ~50% more than a Honda/Toyota of the same age & mileage, and twice as much as a Ford, Chevy, Hyundai etc.

Cpa Cat

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Re: Food stamps with a mercedes-benz
« Reply #17 on: July 08, 2014, 02:50:18 PM »
Meow meow meow.

You're right about the 16 y/o Jaguar, but a 6 year old Benz is a different story.  Unless they put an absolutely ridiculous amount miles on it, it probably still would have been worth ~50% more than a Honda/Toyota of the same age & mileage, and twice as much as a Ford, Chevy, Hyundai etc.

You're right. I must have been projecting, because I assumed her Mercedes was older. She deserves to have WIC tomatoes thrown at her. She was right to be embarassed to drive up to collect her food aid in a 6 year old Mercedes. The insurance alone would easily cover a monthly grocery bill, but you're going to drive it over to get charity food? That's f-ing shameful.

Grid

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Re: Food stamps with a mercedes-benz
« Reply #18 on: July 08, 2014, 05:11:17 PM »

Meow meow meow.

I truly lol'ed at this Cpa Cat.  Good one.

CarDude

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Re: Food stamps with a mercedes-benz
« Reply #19 on: July 08, 2014, 06:38:10 PM »
Meh, it's hard for most folks to get how poor folks live until they're actually poor. I wish them the best. Hopefully they'll be more careful with finances from now on.

Zamboni

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Re: Food stamps with a mercedes-benz
« Reply #20 on: July 08, 2014, 08:36:41 PM »
It's hard to give up one's "image" (even when that image has become ridiculous and embarrassing in certain situations.) 

Movie recommendation along these lines:  Blue Jasmine

greaper007

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Re: Food stamps with a mercedes-benz
« Reply #21 on: July 08, 2014, 08:57:31 PM »
One, I think this is exactly why programs like WIC were setup in the first place and this family is probably the best recipients of these programs.   We all pay into the system for things like unemployment insurance and WIC, why not pull out of it for a few months when you get into a bad situation?    I've often wished that I would have signed up for government assistance when I was making less than $10,000 a year as a flight instructor in my early 20s.   Instead I lived off of credit cards for things like food, that I was paying off for years afterwards as an airline pilot.

Two, what a great learning experience for this family even if it came at an awful time.    It's hard to see how bad things can get when you grow up wealthy.   As a kid I knew that everyone's parents didn't make $300,000 a year like mine, but I never really internalized it until I was living below the poverty line.    It's why I'm on a forum like this instead of driving my Mercedes to eat sushi.

Jags4186

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Re: Food stamps with a mercedes-benz
« Reply #22 on: July 09, 2014, 06:19:52 AM »
I don't even think the Mercedes thing honestly is that big of deal. It's an 11 year old car that's worth about $4500. One trade down and breakdown could eat up all that money instantly.  Sad story.


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Derek

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Re: Food stamps with a mercedes-benz
« Reply #23 on: July 09, 2014, 06:57:43 AM »
My favorite part was the ad for a new Mercedes SUV!  Great placement.

zhelud

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Re: Food stamps with a mercedes-benz
« Reply #24 on: July 09, 2014, 08:06:15 AM »
They definitely should have gotten rid of the Mercedes.  But, IMHO, if our government anti-poverty programs only helped people who could certify that they had never made a lousy decision that caused or contributed to their bad situation, a lot of people would just starve. There aren't very many "perfect" poor people (or perfect rich people either.)

Cyanne

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Re: Food stamps with a mercedes-benz
« Reply #25 on: July 09, 2014, 09:25:52 AM »
Meow meow meow.

You're right about the 16 y/o Jaguar, but a 6 year old Benz is a different story.  Unless they put an absolutely ridiculous amount miles on it, it probably still would have been worth ~50% more than a Honda/Toyota of the same age & mileage, and twice as much as a Ford, Chevy, Hyundai etc.

You're right. I must have been projecting, because I assumed her Mercedes was older. She deserves to have WIC tomatoes thrown at her. She was right to be embarassed to drive up to collect her food aid in a 6 year old Mercedes. The insurance alone would easily cover a monthly grocery bill, but you're going to drive it over to get charity food? That's f-ing shameful.

The insurance on the car probably wasn't that high. Hubby's Porsche 911 C4 runs about $67 per month for full coverage. If she needed formula for twins that $67 wouldn't go far.

Cpa Cat

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Re: Food stamps with a mercedes-benz
« Reply #26 on: July 09, 2014, 11:46:45 AM »
The insurance on the car probably wasn't that high. Hubby's Porsche 911 C4 runs about $67 per month for full coverage. If she needed formula for twins that $67 wouldn't go far.

I guess my feeling about it is that food aid is for people who will go hungry without it. If you're at the point where you are accepting free food, then $67/month goes far enough. Because that's the thing... it's $67 here and then 70 bucks for the cable and 50 bucks for the internet and 100 bucks for the cell phones.

None of it goes far on its own. But when you're saying, "My children will go hungry without this food," every inch counts. If your children are going hungry, then $67 makes a difference.

And if you aren't willing to make those cuts, then either your kids are going hungry because you're not willing to give up a couple of luxuries or your kids aren't actually going hungry.

And maybe it's not totally rational, it seems particilarly low to accept food aid (more than other types of aid) when you don't really need it.

greaper007

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Re: Food stamps with a mercedes-benz
« Reply #27 on: July 09, 2014, 12:02:16 PM »
The insurance on the car probably wasn't that high. Hubby's Porsche 911 C4 runs about $67 per month for full coverage. If she needed formula for twins that $67 wouldn't go far.

I guess my feeling about it is that food aid is for people who will go hungry without it. If you're at the point where you are accepting free food, then $67/month goes far enough. Because that's the thing... it's $67 here and then 70 bucks for the cable and 50 bucks for the internet and 100 bucks for the cell phones.

None of it goes far on its own. But when you're saying, "My children will go hungry without this food," every inch counts. If your children are going hungry, then $67 makes a difference.

And if you aren't willing to make those cuts, then either your kids are going hungry because you're not willing to give up a couple of luxuries or your kids aren't actually going hungry.

And maybe it's not totally rational, it seems particilarly low to accept food aid (more than other types of aid) when you don't really need it.

I don't understand why it's low to accept wic for a couple of months when you're in a tight place.    These programs were designed to help people in a tight place, and who deserves it more than someone that was paying high taxes, and probably will again (especially in ct).     I don't get the idea of government funds.    They're funds for everyone, from everyone to ensure that things like layoffs don't destroy housing prices in my neighborhood or potentially cause a wider revolution.    People shouldn't have to sell their things on the street like a heroin addict to get through a couple of bad months.

If you want to argue about the implementation of poverty reducing programs, I'm all ears, but simply making value judgements about people's life circumstances feels mean and petty.

CarDude

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Re: Food stamps with a mercedes-benz
« Reply #28 on: July 09, 2014, 12:25:58 PM »
^ I see that as one of the biggest issues in our society, along with brainwashing: selfishness. Social services are for people to use, not for us to gripe endlessly when people are unfortunate enough to need them. It's like standing outside a library heckling patrons for not going to a bookstore instead. Yes, there's a difference between food stamps and library books, but my point is the same: we shouldn't begrudge people for seeking help, unless we're simply waiting for an opportunity later on to begrudge them for not  seeking help (e.g., what a horrible mother, stealing to feed her children! She should have used food stamps instead!).

Cpa Cat

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Re: Food stamps with a mercedes-benz
« Reply #29 on: July 09, 2014, 12:31:15 PM »
I don't understand why it's low to accept wic for a couple of months when you're in a tight place.    These programs were designed to help people in a tight place, and who deserves it more than someone that was paying high taxes, and probably will again (especially in ct).   

The point of WIC is to ensure proper nutrition for young children and their mothers who may otherwise be at risk of suffering health consequence due to poverty and the inability to afford food.

So either you're in so tight of a place that you are legitimately at risk of nutritional definiciencies (but still can't be bothered to get rid of your Mercedes), or you are not legitimately at risk and you are accepting aid that rightfully belongs to someone who is at risk (so that you can keep your Mercedes).

Either way, there's something wrong with your ethics when you choose to accept charity from a program that is designed for the poor while you drive around your 6 year old Mercedes.

Certain kinds of aid are designed for people who are temporarily in a tight place. Certain kinds of aid are designed for people who are truly in need. If you're going to accept aid for people who are truly in need, then you should truly be in need. Not kinda-sorta in need.

That said - this is totally my own opinion. I accept that you have a different view of things. I'm not Socrates. Philosophizing about this stuff isn't my calling.

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Re: Food stamps with a mercedes-benz
« Reply #30 on: July 09, 2014, 05:00:57 PM »
Food stamps are there to ease the burden on the poor in a way that ensures the money isn't waisted.  Plenty of people here minimize their tax burden through loopholes and take healthcare subsidies that they don't strictly need.  It only seems to be at the bottom that we start to judge people for using every resource available to them.

The thing that irritates me is the way the author tells her story.  She never says that maybe she shouldn't have kept two cars and bought soda.  She never says that hindsight is 20/20, or points out all the people who got food stamps through about her root than a six figure job.  She got hit with a lot at once, partially because she and her husband decided that having kids meant buying a house; that's hard, but there's a warning there that a lot of Americans could stand to hear.


St4n

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Re: Food stamps with a mercedes-benz
« Reply #31 on: July 09, 2014, 10:30:38 PM »
Food stamps are for POOR people who can't afford to eat because they have no money and no assets they can monetise.  Poor people do not drive 6 year-old Mercedes.

Would I be poor if I earned $100,000 and spent the lot on a Mercedes?  Clearly not!  I wouldn't have any cash, but you could hardly call me poor.  So what's the difference between that and earning nothing while holding on to such a substantial asset?  Inertia?  Greed?  Denial?  Playing the system?

Nobody NEEDS a Mercedes, not even a millionaire, so trying to justify claiming food stamps while owning one is outrageous.

Grrrrr!!!  I'm not given to being a complainypants.  Honestly!  I'm sure this family's situation was distressing and unpleasant.  However, the attitude that "this is not our fault and there's nothing we can do about it" when they absolutely could, just gets my goat.

sarah8001

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Re: Food stamps with a mercedes-benz
« Reply #32 on: July 10, 2014, 03:31:13 AM »
Maybe I'm just oversensitive (I still remember watching my brothers in the church parking lot while my mom got food stamps or my dad went to AA), but she doesn't seem to have a lot of respect for poor people. She didn't seem overly grateful when the poor "girl" stood up for her in the grocery store, and how dare the church spend money helping the poor while looking like a "grungy den" and having so many potholes. Stupid poor people. Don't you understand that I'm not one of you? You just breed too young and have too many kids and don't work. I was a producer. I am just temporarily on assistance. Look at me! I still have a Mercedes! (But only because of how reliable it is, because I'm not one of those stupid poor people who have overly pricey possessions at the expense of food and shelter.)

kite

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Re: Food stamps with a mercedes-benz
« Reply #33 on: July 10, 2014, 05:21:56 AM »
Maybe I'm just oversensitive (I still remember watching my brothers in the church parking lot while my mom got food stamps or my dad went to AA), but she doesn't seem to have a lot of respect for poor people. She didn't seem overly grateful when the poor "girl" stood up for her in the grocery store, and how dare the church spend money helping the poor while looking like a "grungy den" and having so many potholes. Stupid poor people. Don't you understand that I'm not one of you? You just breed too young and have too many kids and don't work. I was a producer. I am just temporarily on assistance. Look at me! I still have a Mercedes! (But only because of how reliable it is, because I'm not one of those stupid poor people who have overly pricey possessions at the expense of food and shelter.)

This. 

What bothers me is not the car, or that they utilized aid when it was available and they were in need.   It's the us/them attitude.   Like a traveler claiming to know what it's like to live somewhere because they visited once.   This was what bugged me about Nickel&Dimed by Ehrenreich, where she played at being poor for a bit and spun her brief tour of poverty into a best seller.   As someone who spent far more time in poverty and who still has a front row seat seeing friends and loved ones there, I find these accounts patronizing.   

davisgang90

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Re: Food stamps with a mercedes-benz
« Reply #34 on: July 10, 2014, 05:47:47 AM »
Somewhat related to the story, I am constantly shocked by how nice the cars are outside of my local Laundromat.  When my wife and I finally moved into a place where we could have a washer and dryer it was a great day!  I would drive a much cheaper car if it meant I could do laundry in my own home.

Priorities are interesting.

LalsConstant

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Re: Food stamps with a mercedes-benz
« Reply #35 on: July 10, 2014, 06:10:27 AM »
Somewhat related to the story, I am constantly shocked by how nice the cars are outside of my local Laundromat.  When my wife and I finally moved into a place where we could have a washer and dryer it was a great day!  I would drive a much cheaper car if it meant I could do laundry in my own home.

Priorities are interesting.

While I overall agree, when I was apartment hunting recently I got a stiff reminder how many units including some very expensive downtown places do not have utility hookups in the unit.

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Re: Food stamps with a mercedes-benz
« Reply #36 on: July 10, 2014, 12:08:43 PM »
This article cemented my decision to STOP READING such articles.  I feel I started using them as a way to feel superior, judgmental, and, sometimes, down right ugly against the poor /downtrodden (whatever their circumstances).  Instead, I am going to row my own boat, and not let them bring out the worst in me when I know there is literally nothing I can do but focus on myself, my family and our awesome MMM life. 

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Re: Food stamps with a mercedes-benz
« Reply #37 on: July 10, 2014, 12:20:15 PM »
I kind of related to this story too.

Moved from a really low COL area to the DC area in 2004.  Bought a really expensive (but small!)house, in 2004, no less.  In 2006, I got pregnant - with twins.  Became a single (sole) mother.  And really went through the financial ringer for the next several years.  Luckily, I had a healthy emergency fund and I used it.  I can remember when the girls were babies, daycare was $567 a week!  That's a really, really nice car payment, every week.  I was fortunate enough to have a really great job, with a really great company.

And, sure, I could have sold the house, but I was underwater on it for several years.  And I never did run out of money, but I do feel like part of it was luck.  And I only had my PT cruiser, which even then wasn't worth much, but was at least paid for.  I've since added a 2000 Chrysler minivan to the mix and between them I get decent reliability, lol.

It is really just this year (the girls are 7), that I feel like I got myself back on track financially.  And I still have healthy 401ks and Rollovers, but I can't help but kick myself about how much healthier they would be if I could have continued to max out my 401k during the downturn.  But I couldn't, I paid for childcare. 

Really, to a certain extent, life's a crapshoot, and we all have to do the best that we can, and make the best decisions we can.

Icecreamarsenal

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Re: Food stamps with a mercedes-benz
« Reply #38 on: July 10, 2014, 12:37:32 PM »
I hope she stumbles across mmm.

greaper007

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Re: Food stamps with a mercedes-benz
« Reply #39 on: July 10, 2014, 01:32:46 PM »
I kind of related to this story too.

Moved from a really low COL area to the DC area in 2004.  Bought a really expensive (but small!)house, in 2004, no less.  In 2006, I got pregnant - with twins.  Became a single (sole) mother.  And really went through the financial ringer for the next several years.  Luckily, I had a healthy emergency fund and I used it.  I can remember when the girls were babies, daycare was $567 a week!  That's a really, really nice car payment, every week.  I was fortunate enough to have a really great job, with a really great company.

And, sure, I could have sold the house, but I was underwater on it for several years.  And I never did run out of money, but I do feel like part of it was luck.  And I only had my PT cruiser, which even then wasn't worth much, but was at least paid for.  I've since added a 2000 Chrysler minivan to the mix and between them I get decent reliability, lol.

It is really just this year (the girls are 7), that I feel like I got myself back on track financially.  And I still have healthy 401ks and Rollovers, but I can't help but kick myself about how much healthier they would be if I could have continued to max out my 401k during the downturn.  But I couldn't, I paid for childcare. 

Really, to a certain extent, life's a crapshoot, and we all have to do the best that we can, and make the best decisions we can.

I wasn't a single parent, but had a similar sticker shock with the price of kids.    I figured out that I was essentially going to work to pay for childcare, that would have been fun if I loved my job but I didn't.    So it was a nice catalyst to quit and stay home with my son.     Even when you're frugal, kids are ridiculously expensive without one full time parent.

Icecreamarsenal

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Re: Food stamps with a mercedes-benz
« Reply #40 on: July 11, 2014, 06:48:45 AM »

Just a random reminder ----back in the 80's when the government gave away cheese seeing all the people pull up in there brand new Cadillacs, Mercedes etc...  Use to piss me off and my Grandfather who volunteered his time.  Rant/over

This hasn't changed.

horsepoor

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Re: Food stamps with a mercedes-benz
« Reply #41 on: July 11, 2014, 09:18:50 AM »
Maybe I'm just oversensitive (I still remember watching my brothers in the church parking lot while my mom got food stamps or my dad went to AA), but she doesn't seem to have a lot of respect for poor people. She didn't seem overly grateful when the poor "girl" stood up for her in the grocery store, and how dare the church spend money helping the poor while looking like a "grungy den" and having so many potholes. Stupid poor people. Don't you understand that I'm not one of you? You just breed too young and have too many kids and don't work. I was a producer. I am just temporarily on assistance. Look at me! I still have a Mercedes! (But only because of how reliable it is, because I'm not one of those stupid poor people who have overly pricey possessions at the expense of food and shelter.)

This. 

What bothers me is not the car, or that they utilized aid when it was available and they were in need.   It's the us/them attitude.   Like a traveler claiming to know what it's like to live somewhere because they visited once.   This was what bugged me about Nickel&Dimed by Ehrenreich, where she played at being poor for a bit and spun her brief tour of poverty into a best seller.   As someone who spent far more time in poverty and who still has a front row seat seeing friends and loved ones there, I find these accounts patronizing.

Totally all of this. I wonder if there were snooty people like her judging my mom and I when we were at the food bank or getting food stamps when I was a kid.  I vividly remember running to the store to get some bread and milk or something for my mom when I was 10 or so, and self-consciously standing at the cash register tearing the food stamps out of the book.  I see that as a pivotal moment when I knew I would go to college and have a career and hopefully never be reliant on public assistance again.

Aside from the Mercedes, she never makes any mention of selling any of their other stuff, either.  Surely they had furniture, jewelry, electronics and so on that they could have sold off.  If they had, or taken any side hustles for spare cash, I'd bet that she would have said so.  The whole tone of describing those "poor wretches" she was forced to rub shoulders with is pretty judgy and making lots of assumptions.  How does she know they weren't in a similar situation, but had already sold the Mercedes to make ends meet for a little longer?

Zamboni

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Re: Food stamps with a mercedes-benz
« Reply #42 on: July 11, 2014, 12:37:28 PM »
Okay, I avoided reading this until bc I thought it was annoy me. 

Her use of WIC/food stamps/Medicaid didn't annoy me at all.  That's what it is there for.  Some of you seem to think "well, she really wasn't at risk for malnutrition, after all, what a scam!"  Trust me, after giving birth to twins, the mother is at risk of malnutrition is almost every circumstance even if there is plenty of food available.  The body just has trouble providing enough nutrition for two growing fetuses at the same time, and most pregnant mothers of multiples do not eat enough while they are pregnant; it's one of the main risk factors for premature birth.  Premature babies are also at risk for poor nutrition.

Some of you are asking "why weren't they hopping on Craigslist and selling off their material possessions?"  To me that just says you've never had newborn twins.  There is no time to do anything for yourself but eat and sleep for at least the first few months.  In fact, without another person helping, the mother will not get enough to eat herself (even if there is a bunch of food in the same house) and definitely will not get enough sleep.  Bathing yourself becomes optional, a treasured activity to do sometimes in place of precious sleep.  One of my friends, himself the father of twins, aptly named that period "the hell zone."  It's likely that the only reason she was even able to get it together and apply for the aid was that she had her husband there 24/7.  Otherwise, once home with the babies, she would have been basically trapped with no resources while half crazy from lack of sleep.

Her "me" vs. "them" (the real welfare moms) did annoy me a little.  But she seemed to slowly learn.  She notes "We didn’t deserve to be poor, any more than we deserved to be rich."  No one deserves to be poor.  I'm not sure everyone gets that concept.  Especially little kids do not deserve to be poor.  Also, she was in survival mode, dealing with postpartum hormones and lack of sleep, and also dealing with this:  "That’s the funny thing about being poor having a baby. Everyone has an opinion on it, and everyone feels entitled to share."  When one is poor and has little babies? OY!  I can't imagine how much unsolicited advice she was having to shake off.

libertarian4321

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Re: Food stamps with a mercedes-benz
« Reply #43 on: July 12, 2014, 05:29:09 AM »
I don't even think the Mercedes thing honestly is that big of deal. It's an 11 year old car that's worth about $4500. One trade down and breakdown could eat up all that money instantly.  Sad story.


It's and 11-year old car NOW.  When Ms. Fancy "I'm too good to sell the Mercedes and Drive a Chevy" Pants was tooling up to the welfare office, it was only 5-6 years old, and still worth significant money.

She should have sold it and use the proceeds to pay for food, rather than expecting the rest of us to buy her food while she drove around in her fancy car.  But she had too much of a sense of entitlement to do the right thing.

Jags4186

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Re: Food stamps with a mercedes-benz
« Reply #44 on: July 12, 2014, 06:48:03 AM »
You're right! I guess I didn't realize the timeline. They should have sold the car.


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iris lily

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Re: Food stamps with a mercedes-benz
« Reply #45 on: July 12, 2014, 05:12:12 PM »
I don't understand why it's low to accept wic for a couple of months when you're in a tight place.    These programs were designed to help people in a tight place, and who deserves it more than someone that was paying high taxes, and probably will again (especially in ct).   

The point of WIC is to ensure proper nutrition for young children and their mothers who may otherwise be at risk of suffering health consequence due to poverty and the inability to afford food.

So either you're in so tight of a place that you are legitimately at risk of nutritional definiciencies (but still can't be bothered to get rid of your Mercedes), or you are not legitimately at risk and you are accepting aid that rightfully belongs to someone who is at risk (so that you can keep your Mercedes).

Either way, there's something wrong with your ethics when you choose to accept charity from a program that is designed for the poor while you drive around your 6 year old Mercedes.

Certain kinds of aid are designed for people who are temporarily in a tight place. Certain kinds of aid are designed for people who are truly in need. If you're going to accept aid for people who are truly in need, then you should truly be in need. Not kinda-sorta in need.

That said - this is totally my own opinion. I accept that you have a different view of things. I'm not Socrates. Philosophizing about this stuff isn't my calling.
pretty damned brilliant, my friend.

clifp

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Re: Food stamps with a mercedes-benz
« Reply #46 on: July 12, 2014, 05:29:28 PM »
Generally I find myself rolling my eyes at these type of articles.  In this case I was pretty sympathetic to her plight.  Yes in an idea world they would have sold the Mercedes. But there are transaction costs and risks to buying a less expensive car.  So it is hard to be too hard on her. On the other hand they should have saved more before deciding to have the kid.

libertarian4321

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Re: Food stamps with a mercedes-benz
« Reply #47 on: July 13, 2014, 03:24:30 AM »
Generally I find myself rolling my eyes at these type of articles.  In this case I was pretty sympathetic to her plight.  Yes in an idea world they would have sold the Mercedes. But there are transaction costs and risks to buying a less expensive car.  So it is hard to be too hard on her. On the other hand they should have saved more before deciding to have the kid.

And maybe saved more before deciding to buy a new Mercedes?

Jags4186

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Re: Food stamps with a mercedes-benz
« Reply #48 on: July 13, 2014, 10:52:41 AM »
well in fairness to her the husband bought the mercedes before they were married.

MoneyCat

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Re: Food stamps with a mercedes-benz
« Reply #49 on: July 14, 2014, 08:58:51 AM »
My reaction to someone signing up for food stamps while driving an old Mercedes Benz is "so what?"  I live in New Jersey where everyone drives old luxury cars, because most trade-ins at dealerships are luxury cars since New Jersey is full of rich people.  Luxury cars are super cheap when they are used because nobody wealthy wants to be seen driving older models, so the prices plummet very quickly to the level where ordinary people can easily afford them.  Luxury cars are usually built with superior quality since they are designed for rich people, so they are often a lot more reliable than your typical used car.  When I drive through bad neighborhoods in Newark (which is basically every neighborhood in Newark), the people with cars are usually driving beat-up, dented and rusted old Mercedes Benz, Lexus, Lincoln, and BMW cars.  Nobody even thinks twice about it.