Each year I chose a story I never blogged about but should have. My selection for 2012 is now ready for public consumption.
I must have been very busy in February with my underwater triathlon training regiment because I somehow missed the opposition to the Welfare Integrity Now for Children and Families Act, which would have prevented ATMs in casinos, strip clubs and liquor stores from dispensing cash from from welfare.
Seems like a no-brainer, right? Well, never underestimate the stories people will spin to protect the reputation of something they have devoted their life to. Enter Elizabeth Lower-Basch:
This is another example of setting policies based on attention-grabbing news stories with little connection to the underlying reality and that are designed to reinforce the 'unworthy poor' stereotype," said Elizabeth Lower-Basch, a senior analyst at the Center for Law and Social Policy, a progressive D.C. think tank. "There's no evidence that this is a widespread problem. And even when funds are withdrawn in those locations, it doesn't mean that people are gambling away their benefits."
Good grief. Is one of her main arguments really that there's no way to tell if welfare money taken out of a strip club ATM is ending up in a stripper's G-string or a grocery store register? Ladies, if you bank history shows your husband withdrew $200 while he was at the Pole Cat Lounge, don't assume he just stopped in to get money to buy apples.
Welfare is sold to the public as a way to help impoverished families with children, but look at how feverishly the hard-core left responded to allow the parents of those families to waste that money. One Californian group said the amount spent at casinos and strip clubs is less than one half of one percent of the state's welfare spending. We are supposed to assume that's not enough money to care about.
So how much money is that, seeing as how the critics avoided naming the figure. Since California spent $6 billion on welfare spending in 2011, that would mean the amount is less than $30 million for that state alone. That ballpark is a lot higher than the $1.8 million reporter for casinos alone in an 8 month period in 2009 and 2010 in the state. Neither of these figures include liquor store purchases.
While the bill passed the House 395 to 27, it never came to a vote in the Senate. Too bad. It wouldn't have fixed a broken system, but it would have cleanly targeted abuse. It's so simple why wouldn't you do it?