December 19, 2013

A big part of me felt guilty writing this letter, having just finished a hearty breakfast after a jog in my virtually crime-free, upper-middle-class neighborhood. But I could not stay silent about the Dec. 16 front-page article “December 7th. December 8th,” concerning the plight of an impoverished woman and her family as they face cuts in their food stamp allotment.

It poignantly illustrated the difficulty this 41-year-old woman with six children faces in buying the meager amount of groceries that food stamps covers. But another part of the story resonated just as strongly. With one short-term exception, she has relied on welfare “all of her life.” Although she has never been able to support herself, she has had six children who may be destined for the same tragic lifestyle.

I don’t have a solution to this disturbing dilemma, but it is clear that as long as those in such circumstances continue to have children without the support of the other biological parent, the cycle of intergenerational destitution will not end. 

Bob Benna, Potomac

How can Congress and, indeed, so much of the American public ignore the empty cupboards of families such as those depicted in the article “December 7th. December 8th”? Where do they think these people should find jobs that don’t disqualify them from benefits even as they pay too little to cover the bills, as happened to one of the subjects of this article? There’s a reason why the food stamp program has ballooned to its present size.

Donna Sandin, Winchester, Va.

The mother of Raphael Richmond, profiled in “December 7th. December 8th,” had 14 kids. Ms. Richmond herself had six. And Ms. Richmond’s strategy to cope with cuts in food aid benefits is to get her oldest children to sign up for aid themselves — kids who themselves appear to have little motivation to find work.

I know that jobs are scarce in Ward 8, where I, too, reside. But just because you live in Ward 8 does not mean you have to work there. Washington has a wonderful transit system. This area, in general, has a low unemployment rate. I resent my tax dollars being used to subsidize this woman’s poor choices, including her cigarettes.

Larry Sternbane, Washington

The article ignored the elephant in the room: How many of The Post’s readers grew up in a family of 14 children or are parents to six children? And how many Post readers object vehemently to government funding of Planned Parenthood, sex education in schools and other birth-control initiatives? Until legislators make this connection, our country will continue to deal with these poverty-related issues.

Elaine Ross, Washington

Thank you for the juxtaposition of the articles “December 7th. December 8th” and “Companies pour cash into buybacks of their own stock.” For those who need a reminder about the gap between the richest and the poorest in our country, these two articles said it all. They could well have been titled “Need” and “Greed.”

Madeline Nevins, Rockville