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bdgrey • 5 years ago

Unfortunately, the right wing propaganda sites, like Breitbart, continue to feed the Welfare Queen ripping off the government stereotype because it drives traffic to their sites and helps with ad revenue. The actual statistics aren't nearly as interesting and so they just get ignored and the stereotype continues to persist.

DerekWhipple • 5 years ago

This reminds me of the debacle in Florida where the "drug testing for welfare" idea ended up costing more money than it actually saved.

JuliaWardHowe • 5 years ago

Well, it at least it transferred taxpayer $ to Scott's cronies at the state-contracted drug-testing company.... so that was the point of the whole silly program, right?

Richgski • 5 years ago

Steriotypes sell. Just go to Google news and read the headlines. Do this for a while and eventualy you'll be able to tell which one is the headline for a story on Fox or a story on the Huffington Post.

thebitterfig • 5 years ago

Florida should know a thing or two about fraud. Their governor Rick Scott lead a company which committed the largest known medicare fraud in US history. Columbia/HCA plead guilty, payed over two billion dollars in fines and penalties.

And folks worry about a few EBT cards...

stephen matlock • 5 years ago

That's not fraud. That's called returning taxpayer money to the taxpayer. In this case, to Rick Scott.

acmwallace • 5 years ago

or OTHER taxpayers' money to Rick Scott.

Guest • 5 years ago
Bill Smith • 5 years ago

Good point. Because there is nothing more helpful to good governance than reminding people of what the last administration did wrong and ignoring what the current administration is doing wrong.

By the way, how is it not fraud when an able bodied person refuses to work, procreates like a rabbit, and expects everyone else to pay for her (or his) leisure?

TheLimberMind • 5 years ago

Yup the greedy and ignoble always go for the big bucks, that $11,000 a year in food stamps. That's where the big score is.

I'll give you that about 5% of humanity is lazy and for the most part useless to human progress, but there is another 5% that is sociopathic, and they are after the big bucks at all other's expense. So spend your time chasing after the lazy, not the over achieving greedy fraudsters. Let the truly damaging materialists take all the real money while you call lazy people a threat. Seriously, how threatening can they be, they're lazy?

Trust me, Dr. Evil is not collecting food stamps, he's at your bank, and he is so glad you are taking the heat off him by chasing the lazy and un-lucky.

Emmit Kahn • 5 years ago

"Merchants of Death"

UncleStu • 5 years ago

"There are, after all, equal levels of fraud and theft in other fields, most notably finance -- but we don’t try to reduce it by shutting down the entire industry and blaming the customers."

Blaming the poor folks, who were bamboozled into mortgages they couldn't afford, for the crash of the world economy, started almost immediately. There are still some peddling that baloney, and others who are too willing to believe it.

merfinderfin • 5 years ago

I don't blame the poor folks. I blame middle class Gen-Xers who thought they could buy houses with with free money.

TheLimberMind • 5 years ago

Follow the money, who won that game of musical chairs, the suckers or the banks? Who was really screwing who? Why did property sale paper work go from 3 pages to 45? Who won that shell game, who is fleecing who?

west_coast_ange • 5 years ago

I wonder if you are familiar with so-called "revenue cycle management" technologies that enable payers, including Medicare, to verify contract reimbursements and thus identify potential fraud.

Because Medicare is such a huge program, the ability to aggregate contract data and automatically detect billing anomalies is an enormous time saver. Granted this is still a reactive process, and we've yet to build a system whereby all Medicare reimbursement structures are housed in one place. But the technology is there to do this. I'd definitely add it to your list of fraud-combating investments...

RobertSF • 5 years ago
And that takes us back to the main point: For the most part, fraud isn’t the product of scheming low-income beneficiaries . . . , but rather someone other than the beneficiary standing to make a buck off it.

Yet Americans largely believe welfare recipient fraud is huge. Why is that? Why are Americans so sure that an army of Welfare Queens are draining the treasury like vampires? It's all part of the hate-the-poor aspect of American culture, and the root of that hatred comes from one thing: religion, more precisely, Protestantism.

SImplified to the max, the big break in Christianity, between Catholicism and Protestantism, came down to the question of who was saved. Catholicism held that every person was a blank slate, and that the balance of their good and bad deeds determined if they were saved or consigned to Hell. This was the same belief the Egyptians held two thousand years before. Protestantism held, however, that people were saved by God's grace alone. If God said you would be saved, you would be saved no matter how evil you were. After all, God held the ultimate, unquestionable power to save.

This Protestant belief became, in the case of Calvinism, the belief that you could tell who God had determined would be saved by how well they lived on this Earth. Someone who was wealthy and lived very comfortably obviously enjoyed God's favor, since God had the power to render any man into poverty. So while Man couldn't know God's designs, it was pretty clear that the wealthy were the good, moral people who would be saved, and the poor were the wretched sinners who would suffer eternal fire in the afterlife.

American culture received a strong dose of Calvinist thought, even though Calvinism, as a specific religion, never got big. Calvinism went well with rugged individualism, and so today, we admire the wealthy and loathe the poor, and further ascribe to them all sorts of criminal tendencies, including welfare fraud.

Calvinism never got big? Presbyterian churches abound here in the U.S., as far as I can tell. I don't know if you can say that Catholicism held people to be a blank slate. All people are sinners from the moment of birth in both branches of Christianity. It's just that the Catholic church said that one could do good works to facilitate earning God's favor. Protestants believed that it was only through Christ that one could earn favor with God.

Guest • 5 years ago

It's all silly in the end.

Jroberts548 • 5 years ago

The Catholic Church believes, and has always believed, that those who will be saved are saved by God's grace. However, that's just arelativelyminor theological distinction that's tangential to the issue.

The main issue is how you're able to pin fraud by providers, managers, etc. on the Protestant work ethic.

unbelievablyred • 5 years ago

The biggest fraud out there is completely legal. The military industrial complex is a huge scam, foreign aid goes out to corrupt dictators and their cronies so long as they toe the line when the government wants them to. Big agro businesses buy land and get paid to not grow crops. These are much bigger issues than a handful of welfare cheats.

UncleStu • 5 years ago

And this happens because our government is bought and paid for by the military, industrial, agricultural, pharmaceutical, chemical, petroleum, and insurance companies.
And this has been so for a long long time, through Democratic and Republican administrations and congresses.

Guest • 5 years ago

As long as fraud can be the narrative for the GOP, it will never be talked or written about honestly.

KayNewEngland • 5 years ago

Do food stamps get traded for cigs, booze, or drugs? Perhaps, but it is NOT an out of control behavior resulting in a need for an overhaul of a program that has proven itself over and over to be successful-- with minimal waste (as this piece points out). However what I am sure MAY happen more frequently is trading food stamps for cash that is then used for toilet paper, dish soap, laundry detergent, access to the laundromat, pet food, shampoo, soap etc.

crummett • 5 years ago

A nuanced analysis. It'll never get any traction on the right.

johnson85 • 5 years ago

This article might be more convincing if the author didn't try to classify "trafficking" in food stamps as a fraud committed by somebody other than the beneficiary.

Norwegian Blue • 5 years ago

If you click the link, you see that the definition of trafficking is "selling food stamp benefits to food retailers for cash." So while as you suggest the beneficiary is a party, the food retailer is as well. Which is involved in more transactions, do you think -- the individual recipient, or the store?

ms. mischief • 5 years ago

By the same logic -- whom do you think constitutes the larger group of fraudsters: the individual recipient, or the store?

merfinderfin • 5 years ago

This essay on the nature of government fraud in the US will blow your mind wide open.


PJSingh • 5 years ago

Let me tell you how the scam works. Person with EBT or WIC goes into store. He/she offers to buy other shoppers groceries with their card in exchange for cash. Usually it's a "good deal" for the other person because they'll give $20 cash for $40 worth of groceries.

Now, why do you think the EBT card holder wants cash? Drugs? Alcohol? Congrats. .. your taxpayer money is now paying for that. This scam was attempted on me on a weekly basis when I lived in NYC. And the great thing is that it's not traceable, so it doesn't show up on these reports claiming that there isn't any fraud with EBT. Those of us that live in the city know better.

James Roane • 5 years ago

The article didn't say there wasn't any fraud. It states that fraud levels are comparable to fraud levels in other areas and "most" of the fraud, in dollar terms, is not with beneficiaries but with middle men and managers. No one would say that fraud is never committed by a benefiicary.

Guest • 5 years ago

so what? Do you seriously think such petty scams are the big-deal fraud that conservative media make it out to be? So a poor person with food stamps tries to buy some ciggies with their food stamps --- hardly large scale fraud, even if multiplied a few thousand times throughout the state.

most parents with food stamps need to buy food for their kids and that's what they do with the food stamps.

i once lived, during a transition from suburban housewife to working single mom, in a transitional housing program for single moms. All the moms in the building got food stamps and many of them would sell some of their food stamps for cash, typically discounted at half price. This practice appalled me so I would offer to buy their food stamps at face value: if they gave me $20 in food stamps (this was when they still came in paper-like money form) I gave them $20. I figured that might help their kids, give the mom whatever she wanted cash for.

It is appallilng that foiks poor enough to receive food stamps sell them at deep discounts for cigs and alcohol . . . but one thing we all have to realize is that poor people live in the same culture as everyone else and are bombarded by the same corporatist/consumerist messaging. They want what everyone else wants and they are stressed -- because they are poor, because they are in painful life transitions. I don't begrudge such a parent a few smokes or a drink. I know that's not the point of food stamps but food stamps are just assets to the folks getting them. Everyone converts their assets to get what they want. Why should we expect poor people to live outside our cultural norms?

Do I approve of food stamp parents converting food stamps to cash for cigs and booze? No. But I understand it. And geez, everyone needs a little relief from stress, poor people most of all. We act like all poor folk should be saints but no one, so far, has gone after the banks that raped the country's real estate. The message, to me, seems to be "if you have money, you can conduct fraud on a large scale, rape federal programs in New Orleans" but if you are poor, woe be tide you if you seek normal, human escapist relief like a beer or a smoke.

Guest • 5 years ago

Watch the great, under-apprecitaed HBO series Treme. It is about post-Katrina New Orleans and does a nice job showing how real estate rehabbers scammed millions and millionso from fed programs. Everyone knows it goes on and no one stops it but many like to deride a stressed out single parent looking to buy a carton of smokes.

I was lucky when I was on food stamps, which I was long, long ago, and also on welfare cause my ex didn't pay his alimony and child support (or I wouldn't have turned to welfare! but I got blamed for taking welfare and he was an upstanding lawyer short on cash who got sympathy -- many believe I was a grasping witch for wanting my $300 a month in child support from a guy who made hundreds of thousands a year).

I was lucky cause my mom had a little money and once in awhile, she'd give me some and order me to treat myself. When I would self flagelate myself for wanting to order a pizza or go out for ice cream, she'd say "sometimes when you are at rock bottom, that's when you need a little indulgence the most".

B_P_G • 5 years ago

I don't know if fraud is really the main thing they're concerned about. There probably aren't a whole lot of welfare queens out there defrauding the government for a welfare check. But there are an awful lot of able bodied people collecting welfare and that bothers those of us who are counter-parties to their life on the dole.

Manioc • 5 years ago

Being "able-bodied" doesn't mean much if there aren't employment opportunities which pay a living wage. The boogeyman of the indolent (almost always black) poor person living large on tax-payer dollars while refusing to work is overwhelmingly nonsense based on racist stereotypes. If you're worried about your tax dollars being wasted (and there's nothing wrong with that!), a much better target is our incredibly wasteful and increasingly out-sourced military.

acmwallace • 5 years ago

Define "an awful lot". 1 in 100,000? 1 in 10,000? Again, drop in the bucket compared to other frauds. We can't possibly get rid of 100% of fraud. Won't ever happen, humans are, well, human. Visa allows for at least a few percent of fraud, and spends a large amount of money making sure they can keep it down to that level. We can, and should, do more to cut down on fraud. But the number of able-bodied people deciding that they can live comfortably on what you can get in welfare is not NEARLY as big as you think it is. If you have proof that it's a big number, show it, and we'll go after it.

dwight mannsburden • 5 years ago

"Research has shown thatthe typical anti-Medicaid-fraud worker recovers, on average, $200,000 per year."

So maybe a couple more investigators would have caught this piece of garbage BEFORE he accumulated several million dollars...


WorthMoreThanMost • 5 years ago

Perhaps. That's the point of the article. And once again, it shows that fraud isn't from the recipient of the benefits - it's from middle-class-to-rich predators who take advantage of the system.

Guest • 5 years ago

Not much welfare fraud? Dogshit. In other news the DMV is fast and efficient.

MBerg • 5 years ago

Where I live the DMV is fast and efficient. You make an appointment for a time convenient to your work schedule.

Honky McGee • 5 years ago

So in summary: "For the most part, fraud isn’t the product of scheming low-income beneficiaries..."

So therefore we should simply ignore it? Why does it need to be an either/or proposition? Why can't it be both? Please advise...

WorthMoreThanMost • 5 years ago

You clearly have reading comprehension problems... Or you didn't read the list of suggestions for fixing fraud at the end.

frankfromtexas • 5 years ago

This was comical.

Missed one of the big differences between government fraud, and private; when somebody is caught with their hand in the till, or breaking the rules generally in the private sector, they're out on their ear. Not so much in the government. All of the people who have been implicated in IRS malfeasance; promoted. Bernie Madoff; in jail. Weird that.

Ben Withbroe • 5 years ago

That was comical.

Missed one of the big differences between government fraud and Bernie Madoff. Madoff caused investors to lose roughly $18 billion. Not so much in the government. Weird, that.

Also, pretending that all of the people implicated in the IRS "malfeasance" have been promoted is simply wrong.

oldprofessor • 5 years ago

And there is still a difference of opinion about the IRS "malfeasance". It is mostly a case of the pot calling the kettle, black.

Guest • 5 years ago

Funny, pretty much everyone I know that is on government welfare benefits could live without them if they put their mind to it. That is fraud as far a I am concerned.

Lisa M. Alter • 5 years ago

Funny, pretty much everyone I know that is on government benefits (SSDI, food stamps, Medicare, Medicaid) can barely survive even with the government assistance. Perhaps the difference is in the type of people I associate with as compared to the type you associate with.

PJSingh • 5 years ago

Perhaps you should hang out with more responsible people who don't rely on the gov't to coddle them from cradle to grave.

Ben Withbroe • 5 years ago

That is such a pathetically naive way of looking at it. Lets pretend you have no money, you didn't get a good education because your parents were poor and you couldn't afford it, you have a few kids you have to provide for, you have no spouse or significant other to provide another income, and you are so busy working overtime minimum wage jobs that you don't have time for anything else. That's basically what it's like for a lot of poor people. Oh, and maybe you forgot that we're in a recession and there simply aren't all that many jobs available.

Maybe if Republicans were willing to be decent human beings and raise the minimum wage above such a disgustingly low level (btw, if it kept pace with inflation since the mid 20th century it would be around $21.50/hr), it would't be so bad. But otherwise, I think it's mostly safe to say that you can't just "put your mind to it" and overcome so many variables that are outside your control.

Also, your argument doesn't really apply at all in terms of people getting their acts together. Did you know that the majority of welfare recipients don't remain so for a particularly long period of time? 53.5% of AFDC (Aid to Families with Dependent Children) recipients are on welfare for less than two years, and 63.9% of those people are on for less than one year. Seems to me that they do live without welfare once they're able to.

Lastly: people have this idea that living with welfare is comfortable. People like it. Well, food stamps are only $30 a week per person. How about you try living on $30 a week for all of your food, then try telling someone that they live an easy welfare queen life.

Prof_truthteller • 5 years ago

Plus you have to put up with haters eyeballing everything you buy at the supermarket and passing judgments on you, making assumptions about you, what you bought, what you are wearing, how you look, who are are, and why you are that way. PJSingh, do you really want to be like that?

kgelner • 5 years ago

Your biased article can't spin the simple fact that ALL of us have seen people buying crap food with food stamps (now a special card) at grocery stores. Sorry but your facts don't fit the smell test of what we have all witnessed for ourselves.

Yes I'm sure there are people that need food stamps. But there seem to be a heck of a lot of people who do not need them at all...