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SALT LAKE COMMUNITY COLLEGE

Government Aid Programs


Are People Abusing these Systems?
Fernando A. Picasso
Prof. Jeff Farlo
Political Science 1100 Sect. 5
28 April 2014
Final





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Fernando A. Picasso
Prof. Jeff Farlo
Political Science 1100 Sect. 5
28 April 2014
Final
I always knew that government played an important role with how we lived our lives. I
always assumed they just create laws to keep the general public in control. But then I started to
realize that many groups of people depend on local and national government for assistance, like
food stamps, welfare, unemployment insurance, healthcare, etc. So I decided to research some
statistics on how many Americans depend on government. After researching various government
statistic websites regarding government-aid programs, I was left with more questions than what
were answered. For example, how many people are dependent on the assistance of local
government on a daily basis just to be able to eat or find shelter? Does local or federal
government assist those individuals that have worked hard and made something of themselves?
And when there is a national wide conflict, (i.g. Unemployment), who better for the general
public to blame than the government? When the general public is to blame for the problems this
country faces today, a majority of us lack the ability to take action in fixing the problem and
instead demand that our local government to fix it. If we expect change to happen within our
government, it needs to start with us.
Author LaRae Quy lists five characteristics of a strong minded individual which include
confidence, courage, commitment, control, and purpose. In my own words, when someone is
confident to be committed in what they believe is a morally right purpose for them and others
around, they will have the courage to make certain decision to have a sense of control. It is these
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individuals that are willing to work and fight for their beliefs and ideas that, when the right
opportunities are presented, will always have the upper hand at get things done their way.
Individuals that take part in their communities and local government will always have
their voice heard. If someone believed that they could be a leader for their community because
they know how their neighborhood could benefit from local government action, then that
individual could run for office and become part of the local government. If they feel that they
have what it takes to become president and run this country, they can win the hearts of the
general public and be voted to become the next leader of this nation, just as long as they meet
certain requirements (are thirty-five years of age, a U.S. citizen by birth, and have been a U.S.
resident for the previous fourteen years). It is these strong minded individuals who know how to
make their voice heard and accounted for that will have a great influence on their community and
help determine how their local government works. But are their individuals who take advantage
of the system rather than being part of it? Why as a matter of fact, there is plenty of them.
On Foxs TV show Hannity, host Sean Hannity sits down with surfer/musician Jason
Greenslate who caught the attention of Foxs audience after being interviewed about his care-
free lifestyle. His music label lends Jason a Cadillac Escalade that he uses to go to strip clubs.
His friend provides a roof over his head, in which Jason doesnt pay rent. And even though this
man is fully capable of being able to find and work any job, Jason receives healthcare and foods
stamp because he meets the requirements to receive them. Jason claims that practicing and
working on his music would be considered a job. His band hasnt received a paycheck from the
label and wont until they complete an album and they start playing live shows. Jason said that it
took over a year for them to complete their first album and he never mentioned once if the band
had succeeded at booking any gigs. Hannity tells Jason Youre taking [tax payers] money and
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you just dont seem to care, in which Jason responds I am thankful. I want to thank the United
States of America, and the situation the ways things are set up, (Adams). Jason responded the
way an eighth grader would respond to harsh criticizing questions and seemed like he didnt care
what Hannity had to say. Basically, Jason is someone who would be capable of maintaining
himself but instead takes advantage of what others are giving him. At the end of the interview,
Hannity asked Jason if he would accept an $80,000 a year job driving a truck so that he could
have a house and car of his own and wouldnt need to apply for food stamps. Jason denied the
offer.
What Jason represents is a great number of individuals across who arent willing to work
towards improving themselves and takes advantage of what others are willing to give. Their
attitude lacks that confidence that you would expect from someone who is courageous. Their
commitment to whatever purpose they believe in doesnt reflect in the way they perceive it (i.g.
Jasons perspective towards his music. His music might be everything to Jason, but why should
we care). It is these weak minded individuals that lack the ability to have any sort of control with
their local government because they rather take from it. They can have an opinion on certain
government actions and laws, but what good is that opinion if they stay in their own perfect
world. They might not even care about what is happening with their government and will take
advantage of food stamps, health care, and other government programs that are meant to aid
those who are in need of that assistance. Sure Jason meets the requirements to get assistance for
food and health care, but does that mean he really needs them? That would just depend on
someones values and morals.
On January 1 2014, the website Statisticbrain.com posted welfare statistics for the year
2013 and gathered their information from sources like the US Department of Health and Human
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Services, Department of Commerce, and CATO Institute. Nearly 5.6 million Americans were on
unemployment insurance, 46.7 million were on food stamps, and 12.8 million were on welfare
(thats 4.1% of the US population living on welfare). With government spending $131.9 billion
annually on welfare (not including food stamps or unemployment), it is hard not to question if all
these people really are in need of assistance or if we have that many Jason Greenslates among
the general public?
Not everyone is a weak minded carefree musician that is ok with not striving to work
hard towards making a better life for themselves. My mom and dad started their lives together in
California living in the spare room of the Grandmas house. My dad worked two jobs to provide
for himself, my mom, and their future family to come. While attending UCLA, my mom would
wake up before the crack of dawn to catch the bus and head to school where she spent most of
her day. They struggled and worked hard towards their happiness and future family. They are
now successful business owners of Picasso Shutters. But these the successful business owners,
who worked hard at creating their operations, have a high price to pay for their independence.
When I use the word Successful with my parents business, I mean that my parents
have been able to maintain their business operational while paying high taxes and the visits from
local government agencies to make sure they are following regulations. My mom, who maintains
the office in order, receives visits from the Division of Air Quality twice a year and OSHA
(Occupational Safety and Health Administration) once a year. My parents are then responsible
for paying their visits as well as whatever needs to be done in order to meet standards and
regulations. Within the last couple of year, Picasso Shutters has had to pay over $20,000 just to
obtain needed licenses, permits, and hire an individual from an Environmental Protection
Program (they will keep record of purchases on paints and thinners are being used) just to meet
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the Division of Air Quality standards. $1,000 gets paid each year to hire a license professional to
come in and train the employees the importance of having a safe work environment, a
requirement set by OSHA. With these high priced expenses and the great cost of maintaining the
business has been tough on my parents, especially with sales of plantation shutters going down
year after year. But if this company was able to survive the recession, it could survive anything.
These struggling business owners have been successful at maintaining their business open for the
last sixteen years and will definitely be running strong until my they are no longer capable of
working.
My parents have been able to maintain the business operational without the assistance of
government programs. But during the recession when they had no working coming, my mom did
some research on some government aid for local businesses. She found the general small
business loans, which mentions a requirement that business owners would need to use alternative
financial resources (i.g. personal assets) before seeking financial assistance. So if my parents
were to ever be in need of assistance from government, they would need to first sell any personal
assets, like their house, in order to get aid. With my parents seeing this as being
counterproductive, they had to make a difficult decision and fire two-thirds of their work force in
order for the company to pass through this tough time. The one-third of the work force that
stayed also had a hard time earning a full pay check, what with no work coming in. So they tried
to find a second job, but to only discover that there was no work anywhere else. When business
started picking up again, my parents rehired about half of those that were let go. Those that
returned to work said they had to rely on the help of unemployment Insurance for a source of
income, as did many other Americans during the recession.
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Back in 2002, Deputy Secretary from the US Department of Labor Cameron Findlay
presented the following numbers regarding individuals living off of Unemployment Insurance.
According to ETAs Benefit Accuracy Measurement (BAM) data for calendar year 2001, 8.2%
of all unemployment benefits, or a total of $2.45 billion, are classified as overpayments [if the
insurance program paid someone unemployment benefits that you were not eligible to receive]
(Findlay). Of that $2.45 billion of overpayment on Unemployment Insurance, $1.37 billion can
be classified as non-fraud overpayments that are recoverable, $385 million can be attributed to
technical eligibility issues, $120 million can be attributed to overpayments made in the absence
of fraud or abuse which the State agency chooses not to recover, and $580 million was
attributable to fraud or abuse within the system itself. So 76% of the $2.45 billion in extended
insurance benefits can be labeled as not being related to fraud or abuse. But with nearly 24% of
the cases regarding extended unemployment benefits being related to abuse or fraud, it is
creating a bad reputation for those that are in need of assistance and are dependent on such
programs.
On Babble.com, there are a few quotes that individuals have said regarding their situation
and dependency on a government assisting program:
I am a 26 year old mother of one on disability, food stamps, welfare, WIC,
Medicare, and I use a handicap sticker. I get a lot more comments from people
because I dont look sick. I am on home dialysis 4 times a day. A lot of people
say I am faking it or I am just too lazy to work or I am too young to be on
dialysis. I just wish people would realize disability comes in all shapes and sizes.
L, (Garcia),
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I cant stand it when people remark on the fact that I have nice things, but
receive food stamps and Medicaid. THEY dont know that I purchased those nice
things BEFORE I lost my job due to my school being one of 100s that have been
closed in Chicago over the past few years. Christine, (Garcia).
Are there people who abuse the system? Absolutely, but people shouldnt
automatically assume Im one of them or that EVERYONE is trying to pull a fast
one. -V, (Garcia).
Statisticbrain.com reported that someone could to make $1000 a month and still receive
welfare. They also reported that thirty-nine states pay more welfare to an individual than an $8/hr
job, six states pay more welfare to on individual than a $12/hr job, and eight states pay more
welfare to an individual than the average salary of a U.S. teacher. These individuals that are in
need of assistance have created a legal way for a weak minded full-bodied person to abuse the
system. It would difficult to weed out those who are legally taking advantage of the system and
giving a bad reputation to the groups of people that really need help. And with government being
so heavily involved with assisting an insane number of individuals that are in need of help, it is
difficult to try and make any sort of changes to what the system has already become. The only
way to reduce how much government involves itself with the general public is that the general
public will need to change from within.
Some of the top hourly wage equivalent welfare states in the US are Hawaii paying
$17.50, Alaska paying $15.48, and Massachusetts paying $14.66 just to name a few. When I saw
this information I asked myself why am I working a job that I hate when I could just work at
meeting a few requirements and move to tropical islands of Hawaii? Why do I dislike the idea of
working an nine to five job just to buy groceries when I could fill out some forms that would
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give me food for free? Why should I be stressing about school when I could be out doing what
makes me happy while getting assistance from the government that would provide the bare
essentials? The answer to these questions is simple. Im not Jason Greenslate, who recognizes
the opportunity of taking from the tax-payers and lacks a sense of morals and principles. I am
fully capable of working almost any job out there with a good head on my shoulders. Sure I
make mistakes, but who doesnt?
In 2013, I moved out of my parents house and got my own little apartment. After a
couple of months of living on my own, I quit from the job that was allowing me to live my new
high-priced life. With rent, a new car loan, bills, groceries, gas and other expenses that were
dependent on my managerial income, I had to hustle and grind two jobs just to be able to pay
rent, the car loan, and bills. I had to sell clothes, electronics, and even my bed to help buy
groceries. I was eventually able to find a job that paid just as much as what I was making before
I quit, which I was and still am thankful for. During that hustle and grind, not once did I ask help
from my parents or the government aid program. This was my own doing. I was responsible for
my actions and I wasnt going to be dependent on others, unless if things got severe and I got
kicked out of my place.
I guess what I learned from my experience during 2013 was that everyone should be
responsible for their actions and only get assistance when they have thought of every possibility
to be able to move forward. Im sure not everyone just decided to quit their job just out of the
blue, like I did, but instead got fired or let go for whatever reason. But those individuals need to
ask themselves why they got fired or let go, work out those problems, and think of what needs to
be done to keep moving forward with their lives. The programs that government have set up to
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help those that were let go are great for temporary assistance, but for that sole purpose of being
temporary assistance.
And what about the individuals that cant work a job due to a disability? Should tax-
payers be providing what this person needs to say alive, whether it be food, shelter, or aid in
medical bills? Whether a person has a learning disability or has a physical disability, these
individuals have it the hardest because they are the ones that need to work twice as hard just to
be able to do what a full-bodied strong-minded individual can do. And yet, there are some
physically limited individuals who are actually more productive than other full bodied people. I
feel that the government can assist these strong minded individuals, which are working towards
something in life, with some of their medical costs due to their mental/physical disability. Its
shouldnt be a matter of assisting them because we feel sorry for their condition, but rather being
able to provide the necessary tools so that this group of individuals can work along with others
and achieve whatever lifetime goals they push themselves towards. We all have the god-given
right to work towards our pursuit of happiness. We shouldnt keep down the ones that already
have it hard.
Strong minded individuals will always have the upper hand with how our government
works because they are the ones that are being heard and having their vote count. Those
individuals that take from their communities causing damage to this country by not being part of
a greater cause than themselves. And yet, the individuals that have made a name for themselves
seem to be paying taxes that are aiding a rapidly growing number of groups of victims that say
they are of in need of assistance. With a great number of fraud/abuse cases regarding welfare,
unemployment insurance, food stamps, etc, that have been occurring throughout the years, it is
hard to determine if the money gathered from hard-working Americans are really being put to
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good use in assisting the ones that say are in need of help? Should we really be putting the blame
on government officials for creating laws and programs that assist these victims? Or should we
be putting the blame on all these Jason Greenslates that lack the motivation and inspiration to
work with their fellow neighbors?
My mom mentioned to me a story about a farmer who owned land that had a hoard of
wild pigs. The farmer noticed the wild pigs and wanted to trap them. So he fenced in this small
area of open space, leaving an entry way on one side, and placed food in the center. At first there
were no pigs taking the bait. But little by little, the farmer would notice a couple of pigs eating
the food and then leave. The farmer kept providing food for the wild pigs, which there were
more and more as the days passed by. One day, the farmer noticed that the fenced in area was
full of the wild pigs. So all the farmer had to do was close the entry way to catch a great number
of the wild pigs. Were the pigs tired of looking for food in the wild? What would become of the
wild pigs? Did the pigs recognize the idea of entrapment and take the bait anyway? Were all the
pigs trapped or were a few smart enough to notice the fence? Could you see this as metaphor of
what is happening today with our government today? We will never know.
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Works Cited
Adams, Becket. The Blaze. 14 March 2014. Article. 16 March 2014.
Findlay, Cameron. "Ways and Means." 11 June 2002. Committee on Ways , Subcommomity on
Human Resources. Testimonial Document. 14 March 2014.
Garcia, Lori. 10 Things People Using Government Assistance Want You to Know. 9 July 2013.
Webpage. 15 March 2014.
Picasso, Maria. Interview. Fernando A. Picasso. 16 March 2014. One-on-One.
Quy, Larae. 5 Characteristics of a Strong Mind. 22 September 2012. Article. 16 March 2014.
Welfare Statistics. 1 1 2014. Web Page. 16 March 2014.