Updated below: Thursday morning, May 21, 2015.
April 1, 2015.
You probably know what I mean and I don't have to go into detail when I say there are some old couples you can tell at a glance are happily and contentedly married and have been for a long time. Even if they don't happen to be paying particular attention to each other you can see that they supplement and complement each other, how they have it all worked out to their mutual benefit and satisfaction. I was behind one of those couples in the line at the supermarket this afternoon.
She was in her early sixties, robust and fit, active and animated and cheerful but focused as she plucked items from their cart and placed them on the conveyer belt for the clerk to ring up. He was older, pushing seventy, maybe just past it, and it looked like his age was catching up with him. He was frailer, thinner, grayer, paler. He was waiting at the end of the belt to do what was his job, put the bagged groceries in the cart and wheel them out to the car, although I wondered if that actually was still his job or would be much longer and I suspected that driving was a duty he'd been relieved of too or would be soon. He had that shy and slightly apologetic look of someone who was afraid he'd become a burden and I worried that he was ill as well as growing old. I'd have felt sad---sadder---for him if I wasn't so sure that the last person who'd have thought him a burden or cared he wasn't up to what he used to be up to was his wife. She was just glad of his company.
Like I said, with some couples you can just tell.
Anyway, the last item was scanned and the wife raised her card which she had in hand and swiped it and I saw what kind of card it was.
An EBT card.
So what, right?
The thing is I felt ashamed for noticing.
I hadn't been spying. It just happened I was looking that way when she swiped the card. I could have been looking somewhere, anywhere else. It was just one of those things and there was no real reason for me to feel bad about it. The reason I did is I know there are people who do look...and judge. And I don't want to be thought one of them.
The snoops and scolds of the Republican Right.
They’re on the lookout for anyone using food stamps because they hate and resent the idea of poor people getting a break at their expense. And it's always and only at their expense because they're the only ones who work and pay taxes. Food stamps are a form of theft, as far as they're concerned, and anyone who uses them (no one needs them) is a cheat and a thief. And, surprise, whenever they look, which is apparently every time they go to the store, they catch someone thieving and cheating buying strip steak, lobster, and crab legs and all other sorts of luxuries they themselves can't afford and using their money to do it!
I've heard these snoops and scolds all my life and even when I was a kid I had them pegged as liars because they were invariably men and when I was growing up men did not do the grocery shopping. Sometimes they were sent on errands to buy milk and bread or pick up something their wives needed to make dinner. Then they dashed in and dashed out and I knew it was unlikely that every time they did they found themselves in line behind someone using food stamps to buy steak.
I can't tell you what groceries this couple bought. I don't study the contents of other people's shopping carts. And I can't tell you if they acted poor because I don't know what that means. Are poor people supposed to go around looking abject and ashamed? Worn out, hungry, exhausted, and full of despair? Beats me. And doesn't matter, because it's none of my business.
It's none of my business what anybody else in the supermarket has in their shopping carts. It's none of my business how any of them are planning to pay for their groceries. It doesn't become my business because someone might be using a little bit, a very little bit, an infinitesimal bit, of my tax money to buy themselves and their family a nice Sunday dinner.
And, yes, my tax money. I always want to ask these people how they know it's their taxes paying for government programs they object to? How do they know their tax money isn't being spent on things they approve of, like tanks and border patrol agent salaries and, you know, filling the occasional pothole?
But here’s my question.
Why do these snoops and scolds think it's good to be snoops and scolds? Do they think snooping and scolding are admirable qualities?
And here's my other question.
Why do their fellow Republicans and conservatives put up with them?
Why, in fact, have they let them take over the party?
And it's not just at the grocery store where they're doing their snooping and scolding. It's at the doctor's office and at the pharmacy too. When the matter is sex, particularly young women having sex, they aren't just snoops and scolds, they're prudes and prigs.
Suspicious, prying, mean-spirited, jealous, petty-minded hypocrites lacking in charity, imagination, and sympathy.
The Republican Party has become the party of these guys.
And this is the funny thing. They are mostly guys.
More than half the state legislatures and the entire United States Congress are dominated by middle-age men who act and think like old biddies and church ladies.
Why aren't more Republicans embarrassed by this?
It can’t be because they’re all snoops and scolds.
This snoop and scold is a United States Congressman: Rep. Glenn Grothman urges constituents to keep an eye out for poor people at grocery stores.
Let me repeat that, this guy’s a United States Congressman.
Updated for the sake of sanity and decency: See Emily Badger’s post at the Washington Post’s Wonkblog, The double-standard of making the poor prove they’re worthy of government benefits.
Updated again for decency’s sake: Arthur Delaney and Alissa Scheller at Huffington Post, Think People On Food Stamps Are Eating More Lobster Than You? Think Again.