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Get your hands out of Americans’ pockets

By now, New York’s taxpayers have grown accustomed to having slices of their already-lean paychecks shaved off, to accommodate the needs – or wants – of the rest of the population.

There is nothing we can do, to oppose the bleeding of our incomes, so we silently watch the “withholding” column on our paychecks grow and cross our fingers that the people who are getting the rest of our earnings actually need the government assistance we’ve worked so hard to provide them with.

Unfortunately, as with most superstitions, the finger-crossing has been unsuccessful. Many times, during the years I spent, both as the editor of the Springville Journal and now, at the editor’s desk at The Sun, I have received press releases about Welfare abuse – most specifically, food stamp fraud.

A separate article could be written about the inaccuracy in New York’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (for a scary reality check, read “Worst Foods Available with Food Stamps” on www.livescience.com/28074-food-stamps-snap-junk-food.html), but I will readily admit that many people in our state truly need help, to provide for themselves and their families. Many do utilize those resources in a wise and economical manner.

Unfortunately, they are not the only people snagging the government’s handouts.

Three Western New Yorkers were recently arrested for essentially stealing food from the government, by using SNAP benefit cards that did not belong to them.

The amount of money they scammed, in food, before they were caught, ranged from $84 – $313. Guess out of whose pockets that money came?

To my horror, the stories got worse. As I read the stories about these arrests more closely, I discovered that all of the misused benefit cards belonged to individuals who are currently residing in jail.

According to CBS News, it costs taxpayers between $50,000 – $60,000, to house an inmate for a year.

Those expenses include security, medical care, psychiatric services, pharmaceuticals, dental care, facility operations, maintenance of inmate records, transportation, activities, employment, clothing, religious activities, education, vocational training and substance abuse programs.

Also, food.

So, why are inmates receiving food stamp assistance? The argument that those cards are required by the cardholders’ families should be negated by the fact that these inmates chose to break the law. If food stamps are truly needed by those individuals, another family member should apply for them.

Our government has long turned a blind eye to the misuse of its assistance programs, but many taxpayers are beginning to sit up and take notice.

As New York slumps at the bottom of the economic totem poll, it cannot afford to be bleeding money and forcing its taxpayers to leave the state, because their incomes no longer cover their own expenses, much less others’.

More checks and balances need to be instituted, for people who are receiving help from the rest of us.

Despite the protests that I have heard, both to my personal email and via the Internet, I believe that individuals’ receiving government assistance should be required to do some form of work, be illegal drug-free and be subjected to regular checks on their assistance usage.

People abusing the system need to be stopped, so citizens who truly need help can receive the benefits they require.

The Erie County Department of Social Services’ Special Investigations Division is asking for the community’s help, to prevent people from receiving benefits or payments to which they are not entitled.

If you become aware of a benefit fraud situation, contact the division, via its telephone hotline, at 858-1886; email sidfraud@erie.gov or write to the ECDSS Special Education Division, 95 Franklin St., Buffalo, NY 14202.
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