I was reading this article from the Times recently. It discusses the history of food stamp and SNAP benefits fraud. I looked it up while I was thinking about writing an entry about something else, which I will get to eventually. Did you know that there is less than 1.5% fraud in SNAP benefits today? We hear repeatedly about how our tax dollars are being waisted on people who just want to take advantage of benefits. The USDA reported that as of May of this year, there are about 44 million Americans using the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). So less than 1.5% of that is acquiring SNAP through some sort of devious means such as using a dead person's social security number. Another way of abusing SNAP is buying non-eligible food items and the only way to do that now is to have a store willing to sell those products.
We are a cynical nation of human beings. We instantly think that someone less fortunate than ourselves are just lurking in the background to take advantage or steal. I often wonder if that cynicism comes from a self knowledge of their own behavior. If given the opportunity or put in the same shoes as someone on SNAP they would take advantage of the system. My yoga teacher, Karen, said something once that sticks with me to this day. She said that when you look at someone and think they are judging you, it is really just a reflection of the judgments you have of yourself. This is something I think of when I hear my mother complaining about some woman or other who looked at her a 'certain way'. I refrain myself from saying that there is no way she can read that woman's mind and know that she is even thinking anything at all. We assume that other people are thinking the worst about us because we are already thinking the worst of ourselves.
Which brings me to my original thought on Trump's ban on Transgenders in the military because I have heard the critics who say that Transgenders only want to be part of the military for free sex-reassignment surgery. Trump's ban also includes a stop on re-assignment surgery for active personnel. And to those critics and Trump I'd like to say this: Shut your judgmental, unchristian, hateful mouths. First of all, being in the military is not easy to begin with. I don't want to do. I surely respect those who do, but I'm a wimp. The food alone would kill me in two days. It's not just the constant drills and bad food that makes being in the military difficult either. There are deployments that take you away from your loved ones for years on end. There is also the constant threat of being shot or blown up and not making it home to those loved ones. People join the military for a number of reasons besides the desire to protect this country. Chris joined the medic crew in the National Guard purely for the sign on bonus. He was a terrible medic, couldn't stand the sight of blood, but it was a job. Some people just need a job. What about those soldiers who joined knowing that the government would pay for their college education? Isn't that taking advantage of the situation?
It takes something special for a person to just step up and volunteer to serve this country, regardless of their need for a job or financial aid. Should it really matter if that person is straight, gay, bi, or Transgendered? I mean, why not continue discriminating and add religions to that list? The people who join the military are risking their lives to make your life safer. We should be doing everything in our power to make their lives easier when they are home. They should have access to state of the art health care. They should have paid scholarships to top universities. They should be able to walk off the plane from deployment and straight onto a good paying job. They should have the best mental health care and you know what? If they want gender reassignment surgery they should get it. Because they stepped into the line of danger so I wouldn't have to.
This should be true for ANY person who chooses to serve this country.