Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Welfare Industrial Complex

     During this time of our nation's fiscal malaise, when responsible parties want to cut spending in an effort to save us from bankruptcy and an irresponsible President and his party in Congress want to spend even more, stories like the one I heard the other day boil my blood. It is the kind of information that argues against the President's claim that we can't cut domestic spending because those programs are essential to the day-to-day survival of the individuals who depend upon them.
     One of the "essential" programs, i.e. food stamps, has increased by 60% in the first four years of the Obama Presidency. There are now over 47 million Americans receiving taxpayer funded assistance, ostensibly to buy food, and the program now consumes over 80 billion dollars a year. I am all in favor of feeding the hungry, after all I am a Christian and try to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ. But religious organizations and local communities do a much more efficient job of feeding the poor than does the Federal government. Besides, as James Madison said, "There is no charity in the Constitution." Nor should there be, otherwise corruption abounds and no one is really helped except greedy politicians.
     Back to my blood-boiling story. A friend of mine owns inner-city rental properties, so he is in the neighborhoods practically every day. He also has occasion to frequent the convenience stores in the inner-city and has made me aware of a new practice among food stamp recipients. The stores sell crack pipes with a piece of candy in them so that they qualify under the food stamp program. So in essence, President Obama thinks it is essential to supply addicts with taxpayer funded crack pipes, even if it means helping to bankrupt the country.
     The taxpayer funding of crack pipes is only half the story about the food stamp program. I recently spoke with a Federal employee who investigates food stamp fraud and his frustration was palpable. When I questioned him further he said they arrest individuals committing fraud and sometimes weeks later they are arresting the same individuals. The system rarely punishes people for food stamp fraud and as unbelievable as it may sound, they can get right back on the program and continue receiving taxpayer assistance. When you combine this with the participant's ability to replace up to 6 lost food stamp cards a year, with no questions asked, it's no wonder the program is riddled with fraud and abuse. Many recipients sell their cards, which has been made easier by the Federal government
providing the buyer with the ability to check the card balance using their cell phones. The seller can then report the card lost and receive a fully charged new one at taxpayer expense. This has become a common practice in the inner-city, a practice that hard working Americans are subsidising with their tax dollars.
     The food stamp program is just one small part of an almost 4 trillion dollar Federal budget, but there are literally thousands of similar programs with a similar amount of fraud that goes on without much political will to stop it. In fact, the bureaucrats who run the programs and the politicians who authorize the funding for such programs, are bought and paid for by the Welfare Industrial Complex. It is a system that encourages dependence on the part of the participants and corruption on the part of the politicians who administer it, which makes me appreciate even more the brilliance of James Madison who saw the pitfalls of the Federal government feeding the hungry, more than two hundred years ago.


  1. Growing up during the depression we had little. Food was rationed, as was clothing and everything else. No one thought of getting government assistance because we were entitled to do so. We did the best we could with what we had. Now the temperament of some of the population is that it is owed to them,an entitlement. The power of government is to give gifts in return for slavery. Sell your soul to the Devil and he will use it, and badly. Too bad, so sad.

    1. Yours was the greatest generations but inexplicably spawned the most selfish generation of the baby boomers, of which I am a member. Somehow your ethics didn't transfer to the following generation.