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Obama stamps put Rhode Island town on monthly boom-and-bust cycle

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  1. #1
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    Obama stamps put Rhode Island town on monthly boom-and-bust cycle

    WOONSOCKET, R.I. ? The economy of Woonsocket was about to stir to life. Delivery trucks were moving down river roads, and stores were extending their hours. The bus company was warning riders to anticipate ?heavy traffic.? A community bank, soon to experience a surge in deposits, was rolling a message across its electronic marquee on the night of Feb. 28: ?Happy shopping! Enjoy the 1st.?

    In the heart of downtown, Miguel Pichardo, 53, watched three trucks jockey for position at the loading dock of his family-run International Meat Market. For most of the month, his business operated as a humble milk-and-eggs corner store, but now 3,000 pounds of product were scheduled for delivery in the next few hours. He wiped the front counter and smoothed the edges of a sign posted near his register. ?Yes! We take Food Stamps, SNAP, EBT!?

    ?Today, we fill the store up with everything,? he said. ?Tomorrow, we sell it all.?
    At precisely one second after midnight, on March 1, Woonsocket would experience its monthly financial windfall ? nearly $2 million from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps. Federal money would be electronically transferred to the broke residents of a nearly bankrupt town, where it would flow first into grocery stores and then on to food companies, employees and banks, beginning the monthly cycle that has helped Woonsocket survive.

    Three years into an economic recovery, this is the lasting scar of collapse: a federal program that began as a last resort for a few million hungry people has grown into an economic lifeline for entire towns. Spending on SNAP has doubled in the past four years and tripled in the past decade, surpassing $78 billion last year. A record 47 million Americans receive the benefit ? including 13,752 in Woonsocket, one-third of the town?s population, where the first of each month now reveals twin shortcomings of the U.S. economy:

    So many people are forced to rely on government support.

    The government is forced to support so many people.

    The 1st is always circled on the office calendar at International Meat Market, where customers refer to the day in the familiar slang of a holiday. It is Check Day. Milk Day. Pay Day. Mother?s Day.

    ?Uncle Sam Day,? Pichardo said now, late on Feb. 28, as he watched new merchandise roll off the trucks. Out came 40 cases of Ramen Noodles. Out came 230 pounds of ground beef and 180 gallons of orange juice.

    SNAP enrollment in Rhode Island had been rising for six years, up from 73,000 people to nearly 180,000, and now three-quarters of purchases at International Meat Market are paid for with Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards. Government money had in effect funded the truckloads of food at Pichardo?s dock . . . and the three part-time employees he had hired to unload it . . . and the walk-in freezer he had installed to store surplus product . . . and the electric bills he paid to run that freezer, at nearly $2,000 each month.

    Pichardo?s profits from SNAP had also helped pay for International Meat Market itself, a 10-aisle store in a yellow building that he had bought and refurbished in 2010, when the rise in government spending persuaded him to expand out of a smaller market down the block.

    The son of a grocer in the Dominican Republic, Pichardo had immigrated to the United States in the 1980s because he expected everyone to have money ? ?a country of customers,? he had thought. He settled in Rhode Island with his brother, and together they opened a series of small supermarkets. He framed his first three $5s, his first three $20s and his first three $100s, the green bills lining a wall behind his register. But now he rarely dealt in cash, and he had built a plexiglass partition in front of the register to discourage his most desperate customers from coming after those framed bills when their EBT cards ran dry. The local unemployment rate was 12 percent. The shuttered textile mills along the river had become Section 8 housing. The median income had dropped by $10,000 in the last decade.

    Of the few jobs still available in Woonsocket, many were part-time positions at grocery stores like his, with hours clustered around the first of the month.

    Pichardo catered his store to the unique shopping rhythms of Rhode Island, where so much about the food industry revolved around the 1st. Other states had passed legislation to distribute SNAP benefits more gradually across the month, believing a one-day blitz was taxing for both retailers and customers. Maryland and Washington, D.C., had begun depositing benefits evenly across the first 10 days; Virginia had started doing it over four. But Rhode Island and seven other states had stuck to the old method ? a retail flashpoint that sent shoppers scrambling to stores en masse.

    Pichardo had placed a $10,000 product order to satisfy his diverse customers, half of them white, a quarter Hispanic, 15 percent African American, plus a dozen immigrant populations drawn to Woonsocket by the promise of cheap housing. He had ordered 150 pounds of the tenderloin steak favored by the newly poor, still clinging to old habits; and 200 cases of chicken gizzards for the inter-generationally poor, savvy enough to spot a deal at less than $2 a pound. He had bought pizza pockets for the working poor and plantains for the immigrant poor. He had stocked up on East African marinades, Spanish rice, Cuban snacks and Mexican fruit juice. The boxes piled up in the aisles and the whir of an electronic butcher?s knife reverberated from the back of the store.

    Late on the 28th, a boyfriend and girlfriend arrived at Pichardo?s register with a small basket of food. ?Finally! A customer,? Pichardo said, turning away from a Dominican League baseball game streaming on his computer. The last day of the month was always his slowest. The 1st was always his best, when he sometimes made 25 percent of his profits for the month. Pichardo rang up his last transaction of February: a gallon of milk, a box of pasta and a bag of discount cookies.

    ?That?s $5.28,? he said.

    The boyfriend handed over his EBT card: ?Sorry. Running low,? he said. ?I only got $1.07 on there.?

    The girlfriend handed over hers: ?I got $3.20 on this one.?

    They paid the remainder of their balance with change, and Pichardo dropped it into his nearly empty register. Slow days reminded him of times when he had worked 14-hour days to avoid paying employees and once faced charges for selling stolen merchandise. But now, thanks to SNAP, he had scheduled four extra employees to work the next morning, when they would hand out free eggs to big spenders.

    More: Food stamps put Rhode Island town on monthly boom-and-bust cycle - The Washington Post

  2. #2
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    they should jail the poor to keep them out of my stores when i shop
    If you strike me down(ban me)I'll become more powerful than ever.. Don't say i don't warn you.


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    That's one of the most depressing things I've read in a while.

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    Woonsocket.


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    having lived in rural china and provincial philppines i can say there is almost always a reason why the poor are poor

    where i live in the philippines (when im not here in aus) we are surrounded by "the poor" but heres the thing, these poor, they are the most fucken lazy people ive ever seen, around """ALL""" of their houses is garbage, they will not dig a hole to bury nails and broken glass even where there is a shovel 2ft from where they burn the household waste
    now the men in these places, they whinge morning to fucken night about there not being any work, YET they """ALL""" have money for smokes and booze and also to goto cock fighting (stop frapping im talking about the chicken kind) and gamble

    so having nothing to do all day is still not a reason to clean up and take some fucken pride in where u live
    having fuck all money is a reason to be depressed and gamble, smoke and drink all day

    more than a few times a week people ask to borrow money, small amounts, 10-50$us usually, now they always send their wives because i would tell them sure, ill lend u, i need some concreting/soil shovelled/painting etc, do that and ill give it too you, but thats somehow a fucken insult

    so now when their wives ask i tell them i cannot lend another mans wife money because people will talk, u must ask ur husband to come and ask me

    99% of poor people are poor for a reason and it isnt that there are no jobs about.....
    Nothing is so common as the wish to be remarkable.... ~ Shakespeare

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    Quote Originally Posted by Griffith View Post
    having lived in rural china and provincial philppines i can say there is almost always a reason why the poor are poor

    where i live in the philippines (when im not here in aus) we are surrounded by "the poor" but heres the thing, these poor, they are the most fucken lazy people ive ever seen, around """ALL""" of their houses is garbage, they will not dig a hole to bury nails and broken glass even where there is a shovel 2ft from where they burn the household waste
    now the men in these places, they whinge morning to fucken night about there not being any work, YET they """ALL""" have money for smokes and booze and also to goto cock fighting (stop frapping im talking about the chicken kind) and gamble

    so having nothing to do all day is still not a reason to clean up and take some fucken pride in where u live
    having fuck all money is a reason to be depressed and gamble, smoke and drink all day

    more than a few times a week people ask to borrow money, small amounts, 10-50$us usually, now they always send their wives because i would tell them sure, ill lend u, i need some concreting/soil shovelled/painting etc, do that and ill give it too you, but thats somehow a fucken insult

    so now when their wives ask i tell them i cannot lend another mans wife money because people will talk, u must ask ur husband to come and ask me

    99% of poor people are poor for a reason and it isnt that there are no jobs about.....
    The political correctness police here in the States would castrate you for having these ^^^ thoughts.

    I never understood (other than the liberals and ACLU would cry) why physically and mentally abled people on state and federal assistance couldn't be required to give say 20hrs back to their local communities each week. Why can't some folks on welfare be taught to babysit other folk's on welfare kids in a public building? Then you teach some to drive locally owned school buses to pick up other welfare folks and bring them into town. From there they wash cop cars and schools buses, cut grass at the park, clean public buildings etc. What's the harm in that?

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    Look who's getting richer than a pig in shit Miguel Pichardo, probably in the country illegally.

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    honestly I wouldnt hire half the people I see even some people with jobs dont seem worth hiring, but seriously the people you see on the street or gangster looking folk with tats on their neck and talking slang, they look like too much trouble to train to to a simple task, I totally understand why they are jobless, it starts with themselves.

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    Quote Originally Posted by heckler7 View Post
    honestly I wouldnt hire half the people I see even some people with jobs dont seem worth hiring, but seriously the people you see on the street or gangster looking folk with tats on their neck and talking slang, they look like too much trouble to train to to a simple task, I totally understand why they are jobless, it starts with themselves.
    I agree. Walk around any Walmart for an hr while pretending you are looking to hire cashiers, receptionists and short order cooks and count how many possible candidates you have based on first impression and personal appearance/hygiene. The number will be strikingly low.

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    Wealthiest place is Rhode Island: Jamestown: The racial makeup of the town is 97.55% White, 0.78% African American, 0.21% Native American, 0.39% Asian, 0.00% Pacific Islander, 0.23% from other races, and 0.84% from two or more races. 0.89% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.

    Woonsocket, 41st out of 45 places in terms of poverty in Rhode Island: The racial makeup of the city was 83.14% White, 4.44% African American, 0.32% Native American, 4.06% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 4.86% from other races, and 3.14% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 9.32% of the population.

    Poorest place in Rhode Island, Central Falls: The racial makeup of the city was 57.16% White, 5.82% African American, 0.57% Native American, 0.68% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 28.35% from other races, and 7.38% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 47.77% of the population.

    It's a fuckin' mystery....


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