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Elliott Hulse is a former professional strongman who now runs his own gym, Strengthcamp, in a back garage in a small business plaza. A couple years ago he was at his lowest, married with kids, a mortgage to pay, credit card debt and a newly opened gym that was struggling to find clients. Fast forward to today, and Hulse runs one of the most well-known gyms in the nation. He writes blog posts about holistic health and vlogs about life and fitness.

Hulse’s story is the embodiment of what we hold dear as the American dream: fulfilling one’s goals in spite of myriad complications. Though he was able to fulfill his lifelong goals of opening a gym and openly supporting a large family, other people fare much worse. For those who cannot completely fend for themselves, programs such as Social Security exist.

One program, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), is on the chopping block to be defunded as Congress tries to reduce the budget. Congress does the American public a major disservice by extending national debt. The Republican-dominated House is voting to cut $4 billion from the program, a four percent reduction in funds.

Though the bill has yet to be passed in the Democrat-controlled Senate, many are beginning to fear that the cuts will be detrimental to those in need; their biggest fear, though, is the fact that this could set a precedence for Congress to annually cut funds from the program as it tries (and fails) to get federal spending/debt under control.

To some, this couldn’t come at a worse time as a record number (one in seven) of Americans are on food stamps as the economy continues to sputter along. I wonder where that “economy is growing” trash that Obama throws around in his speeches is. According to that last statistic, Barry’s got it all wrong.

The organizational and economic state of SNAP is indicative of the failing nature of the US government and all of its constituents to fulfill its job description of serving the public.

The opposite is also true; a weak government constitutes weak governmental programs. Whatever the reason may be for defunding SNAP, whether ill-contrived or benevolent, it will eventually turn out well as a whole.

When looking at the numbers, a $4 billion drop in funding actually isn’t that much if compared to the gross. Since that drop is four percent, simple math proves SNAP operates under an $80 billion dollar budget, a staggeringly high num ber for an economy that’s doing so well. Ok, enough jabs at the president. So instead of having that $80 billion, the program will be under the “strain” of a $76 billion budget.

Even if $4 billion seems high, it will force those operating the program to be more efficient and meticulous. Hulse, in his time of dire stress, dug into his inner will and found a way to fulfill his dream. It is in these moments of constriction that force humans to become resourceful, to look for different ways — in effect to think.

One could beg those in government to think a little more, but I digress. The point here is that regardless of how much is being taken away from SNAP’s budget, the fact of the matter is that the program will now be forced to actually fix problems internally, therby allowing it to operate under a smaller budget — which is good for everyone.

The issue with Social Security programs such as SNAP is the fact that there are countless loopholes that, when routinely exploited, allow very witty individuals to bypass system regulations and steal funds from Uncle Sam.

There are people in this nation who have a real need for social assistance from these programs, waiting for their opportunity while others continue to take advantage of the loopholes to their detriment. These needy are independent individuals, making less than $931 a month after deductions.

Qualify these facts with the knowledge that the average household income is less than it was 50 years ago, and this not factoring in the effects of inflation. People are in serious need, and they’re not getting help.

The restriction on SNAP, albeit small, will have a positive impact. It will force the program to be more thorough, more meticulous, and more wary of the loopholes inherent in its operations. In doing so, the program will be forced to serve those it is intended to serve, not those looking for a free ride through life.

When I was trying to do research for this piece, I stumbled upon malfunctioning websites as a result of the recent government shut down. That sight epitomizes the state of SNAP, and more importantly the state of the national government, full of loopholes and problems that eventually lead it to shut it down. Cut funds. They’ll have to think outside the box for once like Hulse successfully did.

 

Jared Alokozai is a third-year Literary Journalism and Crimonology, Law and Society double-major. He can be reached at jalokoza@uci.edu.

 

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