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This Is Food Stamp Lunacy

Wealth Daily's Weekend Edition

Written by Jeff Siegel
Posted January 12, 2013

Brian McBride is patting himself on the back.

An associate producer at CNN, McBride wrote a piece for CNNMoney where he boasts about paying off his $26,500 debt in less than two years.

He starts off the piece with this:

It took less than two years to save up that cash. During that time I became a pro bargain shopper, tested my limits with expiring foods and briefly resorted to using food stamps.

So basically, he, like most Americans these days looked for deals at the supermarket. How inventive!

He tested his limits with expiring foods... Talk to more than half the people in Baltimore, and you'll find plenty of folks who would gratefully take some expired foods off your hands.

And he briefly resorted to using food stamps. Because even with bargain shopping and eating foods that have gone beyond their expiration dates, he still needed Uncle Sam to fork over a few bucks.

Sorry, McBride, but you deserve not a single second of applause for what you think is some kind of major accomplishment.

Am I supposed to be impressed that you went bargain shopping and sucked a little off the government teat?

No one told you to buy a car you couldn't afford or take out $20,000 in school loans.

So why should the taxpayers have to throw you a few bucks for food while you so proudly try to pay down your debt in two years?

Back In My Day

When I first graduated from college, I worked two jobs, ate my fair share of bargain tuna and Ramen, and continued driving my 1983 Chevy Chevette until it died. And when it did finally die, I relied on public transportation and my own two feet to get from point A to point B until I was able to save $2,400 to buy a used car I picked up at a repo auction.

I'm not saying this to boast or chest pound. In fact, I never thought twice about any of it. Never thought twice about renting a small room in an apartment near my day job instead of renting an entire place of my own... Never thought twice about walking down to the farmers' market every Sunday morning to buy cheap fruits and vegetables or using coupons to buy food and toothpaste.

I never thought twice about wearing a light jacket in my room during the winter, or walking around my living room shirtless during the scorching hot summers for which Baltimore is infamous. It beat the hell out of a pricey gas and electric bill.

In fact, I actually considered myself to be quite fortunate back then. Because although I had to work two jobs to make ends meet, I still had food to eat, a roof over my head, and I was able to make more than the minimum payments on my college loan.

Compare that to my parents who did the exact same things, but while raising a child... or compare that to my grandfather, who never even graduated high school because he was too busy taking care of the farm and going off to war at age 17.

This puts things into perspective, don't you think?

Food vs. Netflix

I've always considered my early days out of college pretty darn easy. And when I did finally pay off my college loan, I felt no need to tell the world about it, despite the fact that I did pay it off early.

Look, I'm certainly not attacking the guy for wiping out his debt in such a short amount of time. But the pride he displays in his story about it is just bizarre.

Have we really become a nation that's so buried in debt, we're now supposed to applaud those who take steps to eliminate it?

Moreover, am I supposed to be praising this guy who, instead of getting a second job — even for just a few days a week — held out his hand for food stamps?

Look, this guy isn't some brilliant money manager who figured out a secret way to eliminate his debt. He pinched his pennies, took a few handouts, and cut his expenses — which, by the way, I found mildly amusing when he explained that one:

I got rid of cable and replaced it with an AT&T U-Verse Internet connection and streaming Netflix account slashing my bill from $135 to just $55 a month.

Is this guy serious? He could've slashed his bill from $135 to $0 a month had he just decided to spend his spare time doing something other than watching movies in his apartment. But I guess that's expecting too much these days.

Still, it's quite bizarre. I mean, this guy says he sometimes went to bed hungry... but he still insisted on paying $55 a month for his streaming Netflix account?

My friends, if this guy went to bed hungry, that was his own fault.

Do you realize how much bean soup, rice and beans, and sacks of potatoes you can buy with $55?

While plenty of folks have left congratulatory comments on this guy's article, I'm simply going to chalk this one up to another spoiled American kid who doesn't really know what sacrifice truly means.

And while McBride basks in the glory of his huge accomplishment, there are hard-working folks all over this country that have been working two or three jobs for years just to provide food and shelter for their families — while not asking the government for a dime.

There are kids in college who are working nights at nearby convenience stores and warehouse facilities to pay for their education now, so they don't have to take on any debt to begin with.

There are young men and women in the military who make extreme sacrifices every single day. They are charged with the responsibility of protecting this great nation, so guys like McBride can lead a pretty happy and successful life.

And I'm supposed to be impressed that a recent college graduate landed a gig at CNN and was able to pay off his debt by making what he believes were "major sacrifices"?

Sorry. Not gonna happen.

Live honorably, live free...

Jeff Siegel Signature

Jeff Siegel
for Wealth Daily

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