I need a few bullet points on this question: Should public assistance give help like food stamps, etc. to people who have money? I'm doing a debate on this and need some help.

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I would say that the first thing you need to do is to define what you mean by “people who have money.”  This will make a huge difference in the sort of arguments that you can make.

For example, we sometimes use the term “have money” as a synonym for “be rich.”  If we say “he has money” we generally mean someone is at least well-off.  If this is what you mean here, it will be hard to argue in favor of giving such people food stamps.  My arguments each way would go like this:

  • People who have money should not get public assistance because they do not need it.
  • Giving them money uses up taxpayer dollars unnecessarily.
  • Giving assistance to people who have money is a good thing because it creates more public support for that assistance.  For example, we give Social Security and Medicare to people who have money.  That is one reason those programs are not stigmatized.

On the other hand, we might be using “have money” more literally.  In other words, we might be asking whether public assistance should only be given to people who have almost no money at all.  Perhaps we might say that only people who have no money in the bank or in any investments could get assistance.    My arguments each way would go like this:

  • We should give assistance in only the most extreme circumstances.
  • People who have any sort of assets should use those assets up before we help them. 
  • This is partly for financial reasons; giving money to those who do not need it is wasteful.
  • It is partly for moral reasons; we should require people to do everything possible to help themselves before they ask for help from others.
  • This rule would have perverse consequences.  It would force people to get rid of assets that they need for the future just so they can get assistance in the present.
  • It would encourage people to be spendthrift; it would encourage them to spend their money on things they don’t need rather than saving that money the way we want them to.
  • It would make it very hard for people to get ahead because as soon as they save any money, we would take away their benefits.
  • Assistance should make it easier for people to save and to move towards being middle class.  This rule would instead make it harder.
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