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How to fix welfare

Over at The College Conservative, Christine Rousselle of Providence College looks at a few simple ways to improve the welfare system:

Some like to make the issue of welfare a complicated mess, filled with statistical anomalies and outliers.  The solutions, while not always politically correct, are simple.  And they meet the standards of common sense.

1. Welfare recipients should pass a drug test before they receive benefits of any kind.

I had to be drug tested to get a job at Walmart, and my parents had to be drug tested to get their jobs too.  If I had been injured on the job, I would have had to submit to another drug test, and I would have lost my job if I had failed it.

If taxpayer dollars are going to be distributed to someone claiming to need help, it would be nice to know that the person isn’t doing drugs. Despite what progressives may say, welfare benefits are a temporary privilege, not an absolute right.

A person who has nothing to hide has nothing to worry about.  If one is truly destitute, they shouldn’t be spending money on drugs.  Bottom line: if a person fails the welfare drug test, they should have to complete rehabilitation or sober up, and pass a test before receiving anything. Period.

2. Require photo identification to use an EBT card.

Some stores require a photo ID to use a regular credit card. The Walmart I worked at would prompt for an ID at random times on the register after a credit card was swiped; I don’t think an EBT card should be any different. There have been reports of EBT cards from states like Missouri and Florida being used as far away as New York, Alaska, and Hawaii.  Either the person using the EBT card isn’t being honest about their income, has a rich relative, or the card is being sold. I think options one and three are more likely.

A photo I.D. requirement would also significantly diminish the chances of an EBT card being sold.  If the user is elderly or homebound, a proxy individual could be assigned and given permission to use the card, similar to how WIC works.

3. Restrict the items that one can buy with an EBT/SNAP card.

I think WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) is a great program when used correctly, and I don’t see why its ideas and conditions can’t be applied to SNAP.  If SNAP were reformed so that benefits were earmarked for vegetables, milk, bread, peanut butter, etc. (all items that can be purchased with WIC in Maine) healthy eating would be encouraged, as would responsible use of the card.  When food stamps were first implemented, Twinkies, frozen pizzas, and energy drinks didn’t exist.  A person doesn’t need them to survive, and as tasty as Twinkies may be, they’re not healthy food.  If a person wishes to buy something outside of the list, they can use their own money.

The program does not encourage healthy, sustainable food consumption, as it should.  A person who is permitted to buy unhealthy items with government money is likely to have additional health problems.  If this person happens to also be on Medicare, their unhealthy consumption would eventually cost the state even more money. One of the administration’s focuses during the debate over healthcare reform was preventative care. Encouraging responsible consumption would go far and actually be effective in that arena.

Read the rest of this column at The College Conservative.

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