Readers Write 7/16

Benefit recipients are our neighbors, selves

Here at Georgia Legal Services, we see poverty every day:

Seniors who have worked for decades reduced to living on less than $1,000 a month, and young people stricken with diseases that don’t care about health insurance or Congress’ policies.

The article “Food stamp aid rises in state” (News, July 9) shows that one in five Georgians gets federal assistance.

These are our parents, grandparents and ourselves.

We recently received a grant to help seniors and people with disabilities get their benefits.

Benefits are not easy to get. It takes lawyers and paralegals to get through the complexities.

The department that administers them is severely understaffed.

Eligibility limits are very low, and many people receive only the minimum amount per month for food.

This is not a program that “discourages work, rewards idleness, and promotes long-term dependence.”

It puts food on the table for hungry Georgians.

Many have worked hard all their lives and have paid their taxes.

Often, our callers start by saying, “I never thought I’d be in this situation but ...”

CALLAN WELLS, BENEFITS HOTLINE PARALEGAL, GEORGIA LEGAL SERVICES

Are food stamps best way to feed hungry?

Regarding “Give a hand up, not handout” (Opinion, July 12) and “Get the facts on food stamps” (Opinion, July 12), saying “yes” or “no” to food stamps is not the right debate.

Politics is pushing the debate of whether to cut food stamps or expand the program.

Without question, America wants to feed those who are hungry.

The debate should be whether the food stamp program is the way to do it.

As anyone who has shopped for groceries can tell you, the items that food stamp holders are able to purchase are often overpriced and seldom on sale.

While most Americans are looking for bargains while using coupons, the foods allowed under food stamps are often anything but a bargain.

The debate should be: Are we really helping feed the hungry or is this just another corporate welfare program designed to raise our GDP?

LYNN EVERITT, HOSCHTON

More reform needed on electronic fees

As “Banks, stores spar on debit fee caps” (Business, July 8) shows, recent congressional reforms to the debit card market have generated benefits to consumers and Main Street merchants.

By inserting transparency and competition into a banking and payments system that previously had little of either, Congress fixed a broken market.

More work must be done to fully fix the broken electronic payments market.

While reforms addressed the debit market, credit card swipe fees are still set in an anti-competitive fashion.

Until the credit market is also reformed, some credit card companies will continue to impose outrageous fees with impunity, hurting retailers and their customers.

RICK MCALLISTER, PRESIDENT, CEO, GEORGIA RETAIL ASSOCIATION