Framing the Dialogue

Takes Two To Tango

Perhaps one of the saddest statistics that can be pinned to George Bush’s second term and hyper-inflated by the Obama Administration is the fact that as of August 2011 more than 45 million people were receiving food stamp benefits. So approximately 14 percent of Americans need government to survive. Since half of the recipients are children their parents are obviously unable to properly care for them. These “safety net” programs have morphed into the natural order of things for many families; relying on the government dole to exist.

“When the people find they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic.”

— Benjamin Franklin

I am not lamenting the existence of safety nets, but they should be temporary. I know a guy who works at a local fast food restaurant drive thru that I also ran into working at WalMart. We started talking and I found that he had lost his well-paying job and had to get two jobs to meet his obligations. He is probably sixty years old and exemplifies how one should behave in a free society.

“I swear, by my life and my love of it, that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.”

Ayn Rand – Atlas Shrugged

Besides the life-long entitlement dependents we all have heard stories of how easy it is to scam the system and we all feel the same anger when we see how government control over the use of our tax dollars is so lax. Every once in a while someone is made to be an example of strict oversight, but many of these are probably just a little “meat” to satisfy our desire for justice. I read an Associated Press story yesterday that I expected to be the same.

The story was about “food stamp trafficking” where retailers give recipients lesser amounts of cash for their food stamp benefits. The retailers obviously get reimbursed by Uncle Sam for the higher dollar amounts and the recipients get cash to spend without the controls over what they can buy. It’s a win-win for them…not so much for us. You might be heartened to note that the USDA is cracking down on the retailers and last year 931 stores of the 234,000 authorized were dismissed from the program and 907 “sanctioned.” We all like when fraud is stopped, but the article did not expand on what “sanctioned” means and I wonder if there are lesser amounts of fraud that do not get you banned from the system.

When I finished the AP article I was a little confused be what some might describe as the “elephant in the room” that seemed to be ignored. I skimmed the piece and then reread it to make sure that I didn’t miss anything and looked at again as I write this. The Associated Press did not mention banishment or sanctions for those recipients who also defrauded the government.

It does take two to tango after all. Some individual sold their benefits for cash and they should also be dismissed from the program. Perhaps the oversight was just poor reporting by the AP (no surprise there), but I suspect that the reason for the article was more PR for Obama. The last paragraph gleefully stated,

“Even though food stamp spending has ballooned from $22.7 billion to $64.7 billion since 1995, the misuse of benefits has dropped from four cents to a penny on every dollar spent”

That sounds great, but that is still $647 million dollars of fraud. I prefer to call the “misuse” fraud as that is what it is. I also love how the AP went back to 1995 (Bill Clinton was president) for their beginning point of the “ballooning” spending.  It is very disingenuous to spread the “ballooning” over such a long period when it clearly distorts the fact that under Obama spending has skyrocketed, nearly doubling under Obama’s two years in office.  The data isn’t that hard to find so the only reason for the AP to do it is to cover for Obama.

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