Florida test proved welfare clients aren’t big drug abusers
Re Aug. 28 letter, “Punish, don’t excuse, food stamp cheats,” by Bob Sponable, which was in response to Kathleen Moore’s Aug. 3 Daily Gazette article describing the reasons persons were cashing in their food stamps for 50 cents on the dollar at a local deli.
While I agree with Mr. Sponable’s conclusion that “wrong is wrong,” I suspected his disregard for the reasons listed in the article (rent, National Grid bills, or toilet paper) is driven by the common belief that these funds are used for purchasing drugs. His suggestion to drug-test recipients confirmed my suspicion.
However Mr. Sponable is in luck, because that consideration has already been studied.
Where else but Florida? Gov. Rick Scott passed a law in 2011 to drug-test welfare recipients, saying it would save the state $77 million by denying claims, and the testing wouldn’t cost much because if you failed, you paid for it.
According to the [April 17] New York Times, after thousands of tests, the opposite was true. Only 2.6 percent tested positive, so the state paid for almost all the testing and case loads stayed the same — so the state was out $45,000.
By comparison, monthly drug use by the population in general is 8.9 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control (May 2013 study).
So it appears that food stamp recipients abuse drugs about one-third as often as everybody else.
Furthermore, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (which runs the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, SNAP) states that fraud and waste has been reduced to 1 percent in the latest data available, thanks to oversight that results in arrests like those at our local deli.
Of course, the ACLU [American Civil Liberties Union] sued the state of Florida, and in February of this year the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta threw the whole thing out as being unconstitutional, stating that Florida cannot condition welfare benefits “on the applicant’s forced waiver” of his constitutional right.
There was one winner in all this, however: Gov. Scott, who by chance is invested in Florida’s health care industry to the tune of $62 million (in trust in his wife’s name, as of a few days before taking office), representing a whopping, though apparently legal, conflict of interest — according to the [Aug. 6] Tampa Bay Times.
American Legion here to help veterans get theirs
It was with a great deal of sadness that I read Beth Lacy’s Aug. 7 letter regarding her late husband and his fight to get his VA [Veterans Administration] benefits.
The American Legion has accredited representatives in all counties in New York state, plus service offices in New York City and Buffalo. It is the job of these accredited representatives to help veterans and their families through the endless paperwork and hearings to get them the benefits they so rightly deserve.
For any veteran who needs such assistance, simply call 1-800-ALegion (1-800-253-4466) and we will provide you with the name and number of an accredited representative in your area.
The veteran does not have to be a member of the American Legion to access these services.
The American Legion is the world’s largest wartime veteran’s organization. We lobby Congress for our active duty members as well as our veterans.
It’s who we are; it’s what we do and have done for almost 100 years.
The American Legion was chartered by an act of Congress in 1919. As it states in our preamble, “to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and orphan.”
Veterans still serving America, we are here for you and your family.
Barbara J. Kerr
The writer is executive secretary of the American Legion Department of New York.
Hard to beat a mom ‘n’ pop hardware store
Recently, I needed a roll of heavy-duty tape, the same as I had previously purchased from Wayside Hardware in Scotia. I was told by the store owner, Tony (Buck) Dorazio, that he was sold out and a new order would be in the following week.
I must have looked very disappointed. When he asked what the project was, I told him it was a simple job [that] I wanted to finish before the rain started. He went to his work area and came back with a partial roll of the tape I needed and said, “take what you need.”
Do you think the “big box” stores would do that? I was able to finish the project before the rain!
Thanks, Buck, I’ll be in next week for my tape.
Why would Snowden want to come home?
Re Aug. 2 AP article, “Russia gives Snowden asylum”: What a hard choice Edward Snowden has to make!
He can either return to the United States and spend the next decade or so in a federal prison or stay in some suburb of Moscow, become a well-paid computer whiz and live a normal life.
We all should face such easy choices.