Food Stamp Cable
February 11, 2014 at 11:10 am
A Times article about seasonal temporary jobs that the City of New York offers shoveling snow tells about Nadji Colon:
Nadji Colon never saw snow until he arrived in the Bronx in his late 20s from his homeland, Puerto Rico. He found it slushy and unpleasant to pick his way through.
But this winter, it cannot snow enough for him.
Mr. Colon, now 36 and unemployed, earns $12 an hour — $4 more than the state's minimum wage — to shovel snow in his Bronx neighborhood through a seasonal labor program run by the city's Sanitation Department. The program, called Emergency Snow Laborers, has recruited more than 1,800 New Yorkers to do their small part in an expansive snow-clearing operation along 6,300 miles of streets in the five boroughs....the snow is not for everyone. Mr. Colon said he had invited his friends to join him. "They're like, 'No way,' because it's hard work," he said. "It's cold out here."
Mr. Colon had no such hesitation. He estimated that he had already earned about $350 from his first stint shoveling snow two weeks ago that would go toward paying his family's rent, cable and phone bills. He and his wife, a hospital billing clerk who earns about $35,000 annually, have two young boys. They rely on $189 a month in food stamps to eat.
These guys rely on food stamps to eat, but they still have cable television? The Times doesn't explain or probe the issue, or say how expensive a cable package the family has or whether it was purchased under a deal that prohibits cancellation for some fixed time period. But it's the sort of thing that an editor might push a reporter to probe further, or even assign a follow-up article to focus on specifically — how many food stamp recipients also have cable television, and how do non-food-stamp recipient taxpayers who canceled their cable in part so that they can pay for groceries without a government subsidy feel about this? The comments on the Times article suggest that I am not the only reader who noticed this issue, and that there is a lively debate to be had about it.
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