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Lifting the Veil on Welfare Fraud

 

By: Christine Morabito, Greater Boston Tea Party – February, 2012

EBTIf there is one thing Massachusetts excels at it is rewarding bad behavior.

Exhibit A: the lack of oversight applied to entitlement programs.

Take EBT cards. While in many cases these cards are used for their intended purpose, the system is a magnet for waste, fraud and abuse. One need only visit the social networking site Twitter and search “EBT cards” or “food stamps” for a candid look at what we are dealing with. Be warned – reading the shameless posts may produce nausea and vomiting in the reader – definitely not for the squeamish.

There is no end to the public display of drinking parties courtesy of EBT cards or offers to trade them for a wider variety of goods than can be found on EBAY. But the prize goes to the gentleman (and I use that term loosely) who generously offered to sire children for complete strangers in exchange for this valuable commodity.

Here is the problem: In our well intentioned effort to remove the stigma attached to entitlement programs, the pendulum has swung so far in the opposite direction that some people are now flaunting their entitlements and creating an underground culture where blatant fraud is being committed.

The absence of oversight is easy to understand. These programs are funded by taxpayer dollars; therefore the government has no incentive whatsoever to root out waste. They can simply raise taxes when they run out of money and you and I are called heartless for denying aid to the poor and downtrodden if we dare to protest.

There is no better example of how liberal social policy is implemented. As Rush Limbaugh is fond of saying, we are not allowed to look at the results of these programs or their unintended consequences. We are only to consider the intention.

If the intention was honorable, it doesn’t seem to matter that we are making people hopelessly dependent on the government.

Sadly, in the mind of liberal politicians this dependency translates into votes.

Thanks to the efforts of State Senators Steve Baddour and Bruce Tarr, Massachusetts is now considering the results and the consequences. Both have sponsored bills to address this serious issue. Since welfare reform is often considered the third rail of politics, the Senators are not without their critics.

One proposal being considered is equipping EBT cards with a photo, so that these cards cannot be sold or traded on the black market. There is also a provision to prevent cards from being used to withdraw cash at ATMs or to purchase tobacco or alcohol. State Representative Shaunna O’Connell has proposed similar legislation and should be commended by the taxpayers.

Apparently, the most controversial piece of this reform is a requirement that welfare recipients submit to a drug test prior to receiving taxpayer funded benefits.

I fail to see the controversy, unless it is somehow cruel to have any expectations of people. Without this provision, you and I will continue to subsidize drug abuse and its resultant treatment. What is the incentive to get off drugs when the taxpayers If there is one thing Massachusetts excels at it is rewarding bad behavior.

Exhibit A: the lack of oversight applied to entitlement programs.

Take EBT cards. While in many cases these cards are used for their intended purpose, the system is a magnet for waste, fraud and abuse. One need only visit the social networking site Twitter and search “EBT cards” or “food stamps” for a candid look at what we are dealing with. Be warned – reading the shameless posts may produce nausea and vomiting in the reader – definitely not for the squeamish.

There is no end to the public display of drinking parties courtesy of EBT cards or offers to trade them for a wider variety of goods than can be found on EBAY. But the prize goes to the gentleman (and I use that term loosely) who generously offered to sire children for complete strangers in exchange for this valuable commodity.

Here is the problem: In our well intentioned effort to remove the stigma attached to entitlement programs, the pendulum has swung so far in the opposite direction that some people are now flaunting their entitlements and creating an underground culture where blatant fraud is being committed. The absence of oversight is easy to understand. These programs are funded by taxpayer dollars; therefore the government has no incentive whatsoever to root out waste. They can simply raise taxes when they run out of money and you and I are called heartless for denying aid to the poor and downtrodden if we dare to protest.

There is no better example of how liberal social policy is implemented. As Rush Limbaugh is fond of saying, we are not allowed to look at the results of these programs or their unintended consequences. We are only to consider the intention.

If the intention was honorable, it doesn’t seem to matter that we are making people hopelessly dependent on the government.

Sadly, in the mind of liberal politicians this dependency translates into votes. Thanks to the efforts of State Senators Steve Baddour and Bruce Tarr, Massachusetts is now considering the results and the consequences. Both have sponsored bills to address this serious issue. Since welfare reform is often considered the third rail of politics, the Senators are not without their critics.

One proposal being considered is equipping EBT cards with a photo, so that these cards cannot be sold or traded on the black market. There is also a provision to prevent cards from being used to withdraw cash at ATMs or to purchase tobacco or alcohol. State Representative Shaunna O’Connell has proposed similar legislation and should be commended by the taxpayers.

Apparently, the most controversial piece of this reform is a requirement that welfare recipients submit to a drug test prior to receiving taxpayer funded benefits.

I fail to see the controversy, unless it is somehow cruel to have any expectations of people. Without this provision, you and I will continue to subsidize drug abuse and its resultant treatment. What is the incentive to get off drugs when the taxpayers  are providing them? 

As a psychiatric nurse I educate patients to practice “tough love” when dealing with a loved one struggling with substance dependence. It can be an extremely difficult thing for a spouse or family member to do.The worst thing they can do is enable a loved one to continue to use. Yet our own country, under the guise of compassion, is enabling substance abuse, and in doing so, dooming people to failure. As a state and as a nation, should we not practice that same tough love?

Like millions of taxpayers I am tired of my money being used to buy drugs and alcohol, supply needles and pay for men to spawn children — for crying out loud. Thanks to the efforts of some common sense legislators, Massachusetts is having a difficult conversation that is long overdue.

For decades conservatives have been unfairly accused of wanting to eliminate the safety net and “let people fend for themselves.” This ridiculous narrative could not be further from the truth. But when that safety net becomes a hammock, I have a problem with that and I think you do too. 

Tom Duggan

Tom Duggan

Tom Duggan is president and publisher of The Valley Patriot Newspaper in North Andover Massachusetts, a former Lawrence School Committeeman, former political director for Mass. Citizens Alliance, a 1990 Police Survivor and hosts the Paying Attention! Radio Program on 980WCAP in Lowell, Massachusetts. You can email your comments to valleypatriot@aol.com.

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