Misuse of the Student Stimulus

09.08.09 | Dr. Stephen Coleman | Comments[6]


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There is a stigma attached to those on welfare or public assistance. That’s because there is a stereotype of welfare recipients as lazy and promiscuous good-for-nothings who use drugs, abuse alcohol, gamble, and think that the world owes them a living. This stereotype -- like most others -- is inaccurate, simplistic, and unfair.

On the other hand, it is sometimes true.

Given this, it is very important that public assistance of any kind be handled in a way that prevents fraud and abuse. Recently, New York State failed to do so in a shocking display of incompetence.

To be specific: With the blessing and approval of Governor David Paterson, New York recently provided thousands of “back to school" grants to families on public assistance. Families received $200 of “back to school money” for each of their kids. $140- million-dollars of public stimulus money funded most of this giveaway, along with some $35-million in private funding.

Well, I submit that Governor Paterson should be ashamed of himself. This program handed millions of dollars over to people with no safeguards, no monitoring, and no accountability. Yes, I'm sure lots of parents spent the money on their kids for back to school clothes and supplies. On the other hand, I'm also sure that some others spent the money on drugs, alcohol, and gambling.

Next time...if there is a next time...a program like this should have strict monitoring and oversight. Perhaps vouchers should be used that would only be good for back to school shopping. Ladies and gentlemen of New York and Pennsylvania, it’s time to say “no” to welfare scamming, fraud, and abuse.

On a final note: I invite people to send me their comments. I would like to read more comments from people on the air. Comment below, or send me an email.


cc-wetm - tv- Dr. Coleman also airs commentaries and a public affairs program on WETM 18 Elmira. For more information on these programs, go to wetmtv.com.

Comments

Your Comments(please keep them on topic and polite)

on 09.08.09 Brian G. commented

The Bible tells us to help the poor, the orphans and widows. So in that respect, the program has good intentions. I think NYS was trying to implement the program in the most practical means by placing the stimulus into existing recipients accounts via their EBT cards. A voucher of some kind may have offered a little more accountability, but would probably be more costly to implement.

But the "entitlement" culture goes far beyond those who are poor and receiving benefits. Here are three examples.

-Some years ago I saw a retired steel worker on the news because his pension had been drastically cut to $40K. He was quite upset, explaining he might have to sell his second vacation home and that his last child wouldn't be able to attend an Ivy League University. His attitude of "he was owed this money" upset me: There are many working couples today where BOTH work full time and do not make $40K. He received his weekly paycheck while he was working, and that's what he was owed. The pension was a bonus. The Scriptures define prosperity as food, clothing and shelter. Obviously there are a lot of American's who take that for granted and believe they are owed more.

- A few years ago I saw a GM retired worker on the news. He was laughing at the fact he had made more money since retiring from GM than he had made actually working. With that attitude, it is no wonder the US auto companies are in the trouble they are in. It should also be noted the foreign auto makers DO NOT have the same generous pension costs factored into the retail prices of their products, thus making them cheaper. In an uncharacteristic move from the normally liberal news media, the reporter noted that he wasn't even driving a GM car, but a foreign made vehicle. How ironic, that a worker who got everything he had from one company, couldn't even support the next generation of workers (who help to support him) by buying a GM vehicle.

- It is an established fact that the postwar generation of American workers now drawing Social Security (an entitlement program with a less stigmatic name), receives far more money than they ever put into the program. It is the younger workers of today who are paying for this with ever increasing payroll deductions, which means they take home less and less of what they earn.

It's clear to me that "entitlements" go far beyond those receiving public assistance benefits, even though that's usually where the brunt of criticism gets directed.

I'd like to suggest that with today's more stringent certification requirements for receiving public assistance, the people receiving these benefits I believe are truly in need. And with the NYS economy being the way it is, that hopefully most of this stimulus back-to-school money will go towards the intended purposes. If it doesn't, while that may anger the taxpayers, those who really get hurt are the kids. And those parents will answer to God for not being good stewards of what is a gracious gift.

on 09.08.09 Aaron Steele commented

Unfortunately, many of the people on public assistance are there because they've bought into the false financial security our "entitle-ment" society fosters. I am not surprised that they abuse these "student stimulus" dollars

on 09.09.09 Rob Shafer commented

There's going to be corruption associated with any government program - look at what's happened to Medicaid and Medicare - that's why our health-care system is such a mess - there's way too much abuse !!!

on 09.17.09 Victoria commented

I work with young people at Workforce Development and I have seen many families in dire need of the basics . It is our intention to get them an education (i.e. GED), meaningful work, and whatever else we can to help them take care of themselves, their families and move toward independence and self-sufficiency.

Having said all that, Workforce has strict guidelines on how money is spent and there is an over abundance of accountability for those funds. It seems to me that this stimulus money and its distribution , for its intended purpose, should have been thought out more so these abuses didn't occur. It only makes sense to me and we need to use more wisdom with what we have to help those in need like scripture says.

on 09.17.09 Victoria commented

I work with young people at Workforce Development and I have seen many families in dire need of the basics . It is our intention to get them an education (i.e. GED), meaningful work, and whatever else we can to help them take care of themselves, their families and move toward independence and self-sufficiency.

Having said all that, Workforce has strict guidelines on how money is spent and there is an over abundance of accountability for those funds. It seems to me that this stimulus money and its distribution , for its intended purpose, should have been thought out more so these abuses didn't occur. It only makes sense to me and we need to use more wisdom with what we have to help those in need like scripture says.

on 09.24.09 Jeremiah commented

I agree with Brian G's first sentence of his comments posted on 09/08/09, "The Bible tells us to help the poor, the orphans and widows." However, I don't believe the Bible says anything about the government helping them. It is something that is to be done by individuals and the church voluntarily, not by the government. I bet if you or your church were giving money out to someone in need, they would really be in need and not just someone who expected to have a handout because they felt they were entitled to it.

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