Thursday, August 11, 2011

FUBAR: Food Stamps Gone Wild!

What a horrendous and ruinous program the policy junkies in Washington D.C. have doomed us with.

While many longtime readers are aware that I have been tracking the food stamp program for years and noting the stupendous rise in individual participation from 26 million back in 2007 to roughly 46 million today, the most outrageous take away from observing this disastrous public policy tool is not simply its largess but the fact that it is rife with fraud and abuse.

Quickly perusing the current news provides a clear sample of the types of abuse that are likely occurring all over the country.

Stories like a ring of middle aged government workers in New York City that are being charged with scamming the taxpayers for over $8 million by creating at least a thousand fictitious food stamps recipients and pocketing the funds.

Or a North Carolina woman using a local food mart to misuse her EBT (electronic food stamps credits) credits, buying unauthorized items and receiving cash during the transaction.

Or a similar occurrence in Portland Oregon whereby several food stamps recipients as well as a store owner were charged with felony food stamp fraud after authorities determined that the recipients were selling their benefits at a 50% discount to the store owner (store charges full credit on the card and kicks the recipient back 50% in cash with little or no products actually purchased), a common scheme used by recipients to quickly turn their credits into cash.

Or a ring of recipients and merchants in Arizona using the same scheme to defraud the U.S. taxpayer of about $700,000.

Or even kids in Michigan using their food stamps credits to buy cases of canned soda with the intention of merely emptying the product into the ground so as to trade the cans in for the 10 cent deposit return.

Drug felons in California lobbying state legislators to lift a lifetime ban on participating in the food stamps program (a sensible restriction enacted during the mid-90s cleanup of welfare fraud) while Michigan is finally cutting off college students from automatically qualifying for food stamps eliminating 30,000 entitlement abusers.

One has to wonder if the “war on poverty” policy junkies of past generations would have been as proud of the current outcome of their efforts as they were when they implemented some of the first “free” food stamps pilot programs.

Given that by the mid-1970s you had a clear pattern of abuse and a pristine blueprint for a failed policy tool, one has to wonder how this appalling program has survived so long.

While you wonder, give the video associated with this report a watch to see the senseless anger spewed by irate food stamps recipients in Georgia when a subtle administrative quirk temporarily prevented them from accessing their credits.