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Wednesday, March 7, 2012

This is part of the problem with this country...

The news from Michigan boggles the mind. A woman, who owns two houses, one worth a million dollars, a new car and a winning lottery ticket worth another million, is receiving two hundred dollars a month in food assistance. This is not (yet) against the law, but why would a person with those assets even qualify for assistance in the first place. I know if that was me, before I even considered applying for assistance, the more expensive house would be sold (at a loss if necessary) and the new car would be traded for something used and economical. This woman, by comparison, feels she has a "right" to other peoples money so she can live in luxury.

The first problem with this is that the government is in the business of charity, rather than private or religious organizations. This was not the case before the first Great Depression, when the federal government started offering various assistance programs, such as food stamps, unemployment and help for single mothers. Now, I understand that almost everyone needs help at some time or another (I have myself), but the first choice should not be the federal government. Actually, the only way the government can get money for these programs is to take it, under threat of imprisonment, from others. We know this as taxation. Private and religious charities, on the other hand, are funded by voluntary contributions. They will not allow someone to live in luxury from the assistance given, but will allow them to get back on their feet. This is how it should be.

The second problem that I see is that it is legal for this type of abuse to occur at all. Many states use a needs based system for deciding if some is to get the assistance applied for. This is evidently not the case in Michigan, although that may change. If someone has these type of assets, those should be sold before assistance is given. I am not saying that she shouldn't own a house, but to own two, with a total value of over $1,000,000, should disqualify her. She should downsize to one house which is more within her means to maintain. If she then still needs help let her apply at that time. Similar tests should be applied to any valuable assets, such as investments or real property. Again, I am not saying that a person needs to be destitute to receive help, but there need to be limits to what can be kept.

The third problem in this case is that there is no requirement for the lottery commission to communicate with the welfare department. Indeed there is no way for them to do it without breaking privacy laws. But, since the names of lottery winners are public information, the welfare department can check the weekly (or semi-weekly) winners against their list of clients. It can be simply automated using a computer and once the search is set up will literally take no labor to get a preliminary list, which then could be quickly verified by hand.

I think the worst part of this case is the sense of entitlement the woman feels. This indicates a problem with the character of this country. Keep in mind that, depending on which data source you use, anywhere from 48% to 51% of the population of this country receive more from the government than they put in. What this means is that one half of the population is, in effect, supporting the other half, again under threat of imprisonment. I have witnessed multi-generational families where 3 or 4 generations live together on welfare, with no intention of working if it can be avoided. In some cases you may have a woman in her 50s being a great-grandmother, because her offspring have been taught (intentionally or not) that having kids means a check from the government. It is this mind-set that must be changed if we are to survive as a prosperous nation.

In the future I may get started on illegal immigrants collecting benefits, but not tonight. I think I have vented enough on you for now.

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