Amazon announced a discounted Amazon Prime membership fee of $5.99 per month (instead of $10.99) a month for shoppers with an Electronic Benefits Transfer Card (EBT) used for Food Stamps and WIC. The internet’s response was swift and many many people are quite frankly upset.
As I watched Facebook friends and strangers alike rip each other apart over this I had the urge to scream STOP we are better than this America! First, lets call it like it is. This is a business move for Amazon. And, a smart business move at that. Amazon will start accepting Food Stamps as payment for grocery shopping this summer. Amazon has become the beast that it is by seeing and conquering untapped markets. We can’t fault Amazon, but, this isn’t about Amazon. It’s about us.
I am very fortunate to have a unique view of this rapidly boiling class war. As a 19-year-old young mom who worked part time and went to college full time – I was on government assistance. My baby son and I received food stamps and state health insurance. Too often middle class America views these people as lucky or fortunate. My son was about one and a half when his doctor (literally one random day) stopped accepting his state HMO because of low pay out reimbursements. I was lucky enough to be assigned to a new doctor about 30 minutes away in a very dangerous and crime ridden neighborhood. I wouldn’t dream of taking my son there. When I went to pay cash for the payment at the doctor he had his entire life – I was fortunate and told that they could not accept my cash payment because I was on state insurance and it was illegal to do so.
Today, as what would be described as an upper middle class family, we are truly fortunate to have choices. At the end of the day after we pay all of our bills it may not seem like we have a lot of money left. I think most families could agree that whatever money you have – it seems to never be enough.
As a cash paying mom, I can choose any childcare provider I want. My family can shop at any grocery store and buy whatever food we want. We are truly fortunate enough that we have amazing employer provided private health insurance. I can take my kids to any doctor that I want including specialists, out of network and private doctors that do not accept state insurance. My son was in the emergency room recently and a random test for one concern picked up a potentially scary second concern. The emergency room doctor suggested he see a specialist “immediately – like tomorrow or the next day.” We have three top children hospital networks within what would be considered a close geographic area. As a panicked mom, I called all three hospitals, explained the situation, and would take the one with the first availability. Hospital Network A only takes private insurance and could see us in 5 working days, Hospital Network B also only takes private insurance and could see us in 2 working days, Hospital C takes private and state insurance and could see us in three months.
I had flash backs to being 20 and having to see an neuro-ophthalmologist and having to drive three hours away to the only doctor that would accept my state health insurance. I, of course, went with the hospital with the appointment in 2 working days – because I had that option.
The Amazon comments are down right mean and nasty. As someone who has lived in both worlds I can assure you that people who depend on government assistance are not lucky or fortunate. Government assistance ensures that poor Americans have a basic quality of life. This is the foundation of what makes our country GREAT and separates us from third world nations. However, let’s be real as depending on government assistance provides bare minimum basics. A difference of $5.99 per month and $10.99 per month is FIVE dollars. That is a cup of coffee and maybe a breakfast pastry depending on where you go. Is it worth blasting Amazon over this? Is it worth going on endless Facebook wars? We NEED compassion and kindness and love for one another more than ever. Please don’t let $5 per month ruin that.