When you're a child, one of the most emotionally devastating things you can witness is a parent crying out of true desperation. You feel completely helpless and all you want to do is whatever you can to make it stop; this desperate feeling is one you’ll remember your entire life. I know because it happened to me when I was a kid and my mother broke down sobbing while sitting behind the steering wheel of our car when she wasn’t able to purchase enough food for the two of us with her SNAP—then known as food stamps—allotment. Still to this day, I can feel the knot in my stomach from watching her breakdown unfold. She felt utterly defeated and like a complete failure to her family.

The truly sad part about this story is that the SNAP shortfall wasn’t actually due to any fault of her own.

The benefits had been cut shortly before the time of this event due to the recession that the stock market crash of 1987 had caused. And since Bush was a Republican, you knew the poor were up first on the chopping block.

Well … that’s a half-truth.

As much as I love to rag on Bush Sr., he’s really only a placeholder. As history has always shown us, the poor are always on the chopping block first, no matter who’s in charge. And as recent history tells us, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

On March 1st, 2023, SNAP benefits were cut at a breathtaking rate for a huge amount of low-income Coloradoans. According to Karla Maraccini, director of the Department of Food and Energy Assistance for the Colorado Department of Human Services, "About 554,000 people experienced a reduction in their benefits." These reductions will be an average of $90 per person, or $360 a month for a family of four. And according to Maraccini, these cuts (like those my mother experienced), are due to no fault of the recipients themselves. "This change is a result from the [Covid] Omnibus bill or the Consolidated Appropriations Act and so it has delinked the temporary extended SNAP benefit from the public health emergency. For the three years of the pandemic, we’ve been issuing this extra benefit called emergency allotment or maximum allotment. Since this is considered a mass change and it's nationwide, this is not appealable. This is not a decision the county office of human services or the state office of human service can reverse." History repeats itself once again. 

It’s important to note that even though most people would agree these decreases appear pretty inhumane, there are also those with political power who feel these mandatory cuts to SNAP simply aren’t enough–that there MUST BE MORE! Enter “The League Of Extraordinary Assholes” …

Five GOP lawmakers, including Colorado’s own Lauren Boebert, wrote a letter to President Joe Biden earlier this year urging him to "enact work requirements as a feature of welfare reform," and penalize those who do not meet certain goals. Though this argument has been used by the GOP for decades, this time they decided to make the reasoning for the work requirements a little more personal. "Structural reforms to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) will better position funding for people in need while incentivizing able-bodied people to return to the workforce," they wrote. "These incentives will prevent the condemnation of SNAP beneficiaries to a life of dependency; instead, incentives will restore their dignity."

Yep; how could I have been so stupid?

People who are on SNAP benefits are doing so because they lack dignity and nothing else; that every single job market is brimming with such amazing opportunities and the only thing stopping someone from being dependent on the government is completely predicated on their level of dignity and little more.

Well, as much as it hurts me to inform Boebert, it must be said: if dignity is predicated on the levels of welfare someone or something receives, then Walmart has absolutely none; they are fucked. If Walmart—or really any other mega-corporation—were a person, and we were using the amount of welfare they receive from both state and local Colorado subsidies as a measuring stick of dignity, they would literally look like one of their customers featured on “People of Walmart.”

A 2022 report by Good Jobs First (a national policy resource center since 1998 that promotes corporate and government accountability in economic development) found that between 2013 and 2021 Colorado was a massive contributor to Walmart in terms of corporate welfare. They did this by giving them 289 different state and local subsidies/breaks totaling over $6.5 million.  

That $6.5 million could be put back into programs benefiting the entire community and not just one business (owner) that operates within its boundaries. Money that could be spent solving either the rampant homeless problem that’s in every corner of our state, the rampant use/addiction to fentanyl, or any number of other public safety concerns.  

And that’s just one example of one corporate entity. Though not as robust a burden, the Colorado economy has also been heavily drained by other powerhouses like Target and Kroger. I recommend you check them out, even though you'll be depressed afterward.

Of course, for this level of welfare to be so widely accepted, you’re going to need enablers. Enablers that will live and die by one argument: these corporations create thousands of jobs in their communities and therefore the incentives are a necessary evil. In fact, it was this line of thought that allowed the Johnstown Town Council to approve an incentive agreement with Kroger in early February to establish an e-commerce fulfillment center in the community. The agreement will give Kroger a 50% reduction in personal property taxes for 10 years and a one-time 75% rebate of building permit fees paid during the construction phase if the corporation builds a fulfillment center by mid-year 2023 and hires at least 100 people by June 30, 2024.

Wow, a whole 100 people in exchange for a decade of tax cuts? So impressive …

I make that statement with as much sarcasm as humanly possible because when you look at the numbers comparing the overall impact small businesses have on local economies with those of the big boys, you can see just how insulting the deal the Town Council made is to the average taxpayer in terms of monetary returns.

Per the Colorado Office of Economic Development & International Trade, Colorado is home to over 653,000 small businesses accounting for about 99.5% of all Colorado businesses. And of every dollar spent at a locally owned business, 68 cents stay local. Of every dollar spent at a national corporation, less than 43 cents stay local.

The numbers make it clear: the tables MUST be turned.

Can you imagine the positive impact we would see in every county statewide if we funneled those tens of millions of subsidies engulfed by the mega-corporations and re-distributed them to the smaller businesses?

Sadly, with people like Boebert at the helm who are convinced that the amount of government assistance you receive is tied to your self-perceived worth, this world of local economic growth possibilities will only be real in our imaginations.

But let’s imagine something else; something like a level playing field.

Since the ruling in Citizens United made it clear that corporations are people, then maybe the people should start acting like corporations and try to get as much money from the government as they possibly can. For as long as I can remember, there has always been a stigma attached to those with less economic advantages who receive government assistance—that needs to end today. If these companies have no guilt when it comes to asking Uncle Sam for handouts, I don’t think anyone should.

But sadly, I’m a realist. With the argument of “job creation” behind these companies, I doubt there will ever be enough people in America who will accept the fact that the top welfare recipients in the US are those who generate billions of dollars in revenue. And until these facts can be shifted to the point of acceptance en masse by the American public, the poor will continue to suffer at the hands of the REAL “deadbeats” who “live off the backs of taxpayers”—the corporate giants.