Wednesday, February 16, 2011
For example, from the East Valley Tribune:
But a Chandler Republican lawmaker wants the debit cards now given to food stamp recipients to be bright safety orange. And if there's any doubt about the card pulled out of someone's wallet at the checkout, that would be erased with the mandate that there be, in large, black print, the words, "Government Food Stamp Card."
First-term Rep. Jeff Dial said his goal is not to stigmatize those who qualify for the aid, formally known as the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Instead, Dial told Capitol Media Services he wants to prevent fraud.
"If that does concern people that they have a bright orange card, I hope they go get a better education or better jobs and stop using that card," he said.
"It's obviously a big deal now in the state to get rid of any wasteful spending," Dial said.
"It's my understanding that a lot of people - and I don't know the numbers yet - that are taking the food stamp cards are selling them basically, whether it be on Craigslist or to other individuals. I believe they should be used by the intended person and not be used by third parties or be sold for like 50 cents or 25 cents on the dollar."
Dial said the fact that funding comes not out of the state budget but from the federal government does not reduce his desire to curtail fraud.
"What it comes to is, we're all paying taxes to the federal government," he said, with the state only administering the program. "It may not be coming out of our budget. But we should be good custodians."
First of all, it seems like there are enough issues in the state right now that merit fixing before issuing a set of new cards to food stamp users because Jeff Dial thinks he heard about fraud on Craigslist. DES actually has staffers who work on chasing down fraud, but I would imagine like most state-level departments, they've been hit by budget cuts that might make the task of finding people who are abusing the system more difficult. Instead, let's just issue a different colored card! That'll fix it, and by "it", I mean a problem that might not actually exist that Dial likely read about in an email forward.
Then there's the other problem, which is the assumption that people on food stamps are just sitting around passing up high paying jobs and opportunities for higher education. I guess the Republican leadership thinks they're fixing the jobs part, but with 4.7 unemployed people out there for every available job nationwide and the state prepared to make massive cuts to community colleges (the most available resource for affordable continued education in this state), it's not quite as simple as getting "a better education or better jobs" to get off food stamps.
Jeff Dial works for his parent's company, so maybe he's never been laid off, struggled to find work for months or even years (even with a degree), forced to take a underpaying job just to get by, or just spent some time trying to regroup and find a new path in life, but food stamps were meant to be a program that transitioned people to making it on their own, not a badge of shame for those who weren't lucky enough to be born into the right family and have everything go their way. But, hey, these are the people we elect, right?