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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on September 30, 2011 8:41 AM. The previous post in this blog was Flushed with excitement. The next post in this blog is Hard to believe. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Friday, September 30, 2011

Woo hoo! We're starving!

Oregon state officials are bragging this week about this distinction. But when you think about it -- and the fact that 1 in 5 Oregonians is on the dole -- it's not much of a cause for celebration.

Comments (32)

Tune in to Fox News tonight for coverage by O'Reilly, Hannity, and VanSusteren.

And where exactly and how is this so called bonus distributed?
Please tell me that the money goes to feed hungry children and NOT into some bureaucrats' wallet.

Three bonuses: one for accuracy – giving people the right amount of money. One for sales – getting more people on the rolls to get money. One for speed – giving people the money quickly.

Who says government isn’t run like a business? And it’s a pretty demanding sales position where the job is to convince the customer to take the money (quickly!) as opposed to spending their money. Bonuses are needed!

I loathe buzzwords and "food insecurity" is currently at the top of my list. Just say it like it is: "malnutrition", "starvation."

Malnutrition and starvation mean you are not getting enough food to survive.

"Food insecurity" means someone in DC is worried you're not getting as much food as you'd like.

I'm right there with you criticizing government waste and inefficiency, Jack. But this is an example of the government providing vital support to those in need - and doing it well. I have no problem with them tooting their own horn here.

If you are one of the 20% of Oregonians "on the dole", getting food on the table faster, easier and without delays IS a cause for celebration.

I'm suffering from "food insecurity" as I don't know exactly what I will eat tonight or where. So what will it be, a food cart visit, Applebee's, a TV dinner . . .

As you can see, I need government help.

When did "stamps" become "snap?" Talk about a buzzword. And really, the federal government has so much extra money (they just print it, right?) they pass out bonuses? "Free" to our state doesn't mean "free."

In Medford this summer, two reports in our local paper stated that more than 50 percent of kids here are eligible for free school lunches, a program that now runs year-round and not just during the school year. So it is now a MINORITY of people who can afford to feed their own children?

I am very skeptical of this. But I've come to think most of these bureaucracies exist for their own sake above anyone else's.

'providing vital support to those in need'

I don't know how anyone can prove that's true.

And I highly doubt it is.

Yet despite the DHS crowing about this "accomplishment"; I'll bet they spend less than 2% of their budget to investigate fraud and root out people gaming the food stamp program.

They also discovered "food deserts" - which means there isn't a full-service grocery store within, if I recall correctly, one mile of home. They provide subsidies to correct this situation, which is why Target stores have added grocery sections to their stores in the desert areas of Washington Square and Beaverton.

And during a visit, my father noted all of the food growing around here, and commented that nobody could go hungry in a place like this.

Oregon... where nothing succeeds like failure.

DHS gets to decide how to spend the bonus. "The bonus funds will be used by the agency, with approval
by the legislature, to preserve important programs and social services for Oregonians."

Just the other day, the late 20's hipsters in line in front of me at New Seasons paid for their organic veggies, expensive cheeses, artisan bread, and fresh deli meat with an Oregon Train card. I saw them in the parking lot climbing into their late model Volvo S60. This pretty much said it all.

PD: perhaps earned income alone is looked at to determine eligibility, rather than assets or other income sources.

The main problem with these benefits is that there truly are needy people who deserve this support.

The freeloaders are the ones who harm these programs. The problem is too many of us have seen this in our weekly shopping excursions.

Once or twice is an anecdote, and we are told to ignore it. A few times is annoying. Unfortunately this is occurring more than a few times, and our agencies should figure out how to eliminate this fraud and waste. There is more opportunity here than waiting for a bonus.

"an example of the government providing vital support to those in need"

I'd like to think a better measure of how well Oregon is doing is how few people we have on public aid. This would mean they had jobs and sufficient skills to not need help.

Besides when is being easy to get money out of a valid indicator of anything positive.

Yeah, ok. Let them eat cake.

Steve- I never said this was a measure of how well Oregon is doing. Of course it would be wonderful if everyone had jobs and did not need public assistance, duh. Nice straw man you've set up there.

By all means, let's rail about kids getting enough to eat because hipsters are allegedly using their SNAP benefits for artisian cheese. Or maybe it was a large black woman buying filet mignon and driving a Cadillac.

Meanwhile, Wall Street and corporate amerika are laughing all the way to the bank. Divide and conquer people, divide and conquer.

I never said this was a measure of how well Oregon is doing.

I believe you stated "and doing it well." Sorry, when any scam artist with a green something or developer with another condo plan gets handouts just as fast, I have to wonder about priorities.

My issue is why don't we have a measure for how many people Oregon helped to make self-sufficient? Or perhaps how well they prevented fraud so that the truly needy would have enough public aid?

If you want to talk about straw men, saying Wall Street is ripping us off is justification for inefficiency on the part of the state is a tenuous justification for either behavior.

...saying Wall Street is ripping us off is justification for inefficiency on the part of the state...

Besides the fact I said nothing of the sort...

My original point here is that this is an example of government being efficient, timely and accurate and - dare I say it? - it even brought money we otherwise wouldn't have had, back to the state.

A main topic of this blog is government inefficiency and waste - and rightly so, it's what drew me here in the first place. Now here's the government NOT doing that, and you're still bitching.

Look, we can disagree about whether the SNAP program is worthwhile, and I get from your comments here and elsewhere that you're not a big fan of government or so-called entitlement programs. But like it or not, the government is currently in the business of administering the food stamp program. Oregon did a good job in outreach, quick turn around in processing applications and making accurate payments - i.e., the state efficiently administered the program.

I know that disrupts your anti-government meme and you'd probably rather they were bad at the types of things that get money out to poor people, but it doesn't change the fact that they did what they set out to do. Yay!

Years ago when the kids were in school I had a teacher insist they just had to be eligible for the reduced/free lunches.
She was judging by what I was wearing, my work clothes and refused to listen when I told her our household income placed us well over the threshold.
You see the scam is the more kids they get on reduced lunches the more money they can weedle out of the Feds for other programs of dubious value.

I live in Clatsop county where we have one of the highest percentages of homeless youth in the state. One of the Seaside High School teachers brings bread, jam, and peanut butter to his classroom so that some of his kids can make a sandwich since many have not eaten since the previous lunch. When getting angry about people taking advantage of the SNAP system, ask yourself: do you want to have a benefits program that is open enough to try and help kids like those at SHS at the expense of allowing some number to scam the system?

I'm also associated with a food bank and there too you can find scammers mixed in with the desperate. One guy drove up in a Mercedes SUV for emergency food assistance. That really set the tongues wagging amongst the volunteers.

But I figure saying "no" to someone asking for help with something as basic as food says more about me than about them.

Oh, and the Mercedes guy? He was taking food to his impoverished and dying father.

SNAP also means less waste for grocers who are reimbursed dollar for dollar for food stamp purchases.

I think it was in 2008 or 2009 that the states had a choice to call the food stamp program the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. It is supposed to emphasize that the goal is to help improve people's nutrition, so, in theory, at least, they can be at their best and go on to become independent.

Since my adult disabled son started receiving SNAP benefits about 2 years ago, his nutrition has taken a nosedive and his weight has ballooned. As long as the Feds allow SNAP funds to purchase cases of soda pop, jumbo bags of chips, boxes of donuts and maple bars, super-sized packages of candy / sugar, and starchy, fatty convenience foods, their claim of better nutrition is pure propaganda. People may not starve on food stamps, but they may be malnourished just the same - and this is not something more money will fix. How will these folks' health fare in the future, and how much of the effects of bad nutrition (not simply paid for but encouraged by food stamps) will we be paying for through Medicare? At this time, SNAP recipients don't even have to buy food, no matter how good or bad, with their Oregon Treail cards; they can a get cash back and then buy anything they want. Your tax dollars at work.

Nolo, you are absolutely wrong about being able to get cash back from SNAP benefits. SNAP is only for food. You may be confused because the Oregon Trail card, which is used to distribute SNAP benefits, is also used to distribute cash benefits via TANF (what used to be called "welfare"). It would be helpful if people understood what they were talking about before going off on a rant, don't you think?

It's too bad your son uses his food benefits so unwisely. I don't see that as a reason to deny others the means to eat, however. Perhaps you should have educated him better about proper nutrition when he was younger and under your control.

"Now here's the government NOT doing that, and you're still bitching."

Who said its doing it more efficiently? They're getting money out faster which can be accomplished by noble and less noble (like lowering the bar) methods. I'd measure efficiency by getting as close to $1 to beneficiaries for each $1 put into the bureaucracy and nothing in the press release implies this.

My point is that if they want to be more efficient, then fine make sure there is no fraud in the system (dare I say drug-test for benes). That way the truly needy are cared for.

As far as getting money we might never have had, wouldn't it be better to just keep it here instead of doing some Earl B run-around like he does with streetcar money?

Who said its doing it more efficiently?

In this case, the federal government said, based on criteria they defined. Criteria - I happen to believe - are valid, though not by any means, all inclusive: outreach, accuracy and timeliness. Feel free to define your own criteria, but don't expect to have any credibility criticizing the results of a study based upon standards that weren't under consideration.

http://www.slate.com/articles/business/moneybox/2010/12/a_satisfying_subsidy.html

"...among government safety-net programs, food stamps are a model of efficiency. ...food stamps are great at reducing hunger while also, for instance, helping local businesses, improving student grades, and reducing the likelihood a family will go on a more expensive program, like welfare."


I'd measure efficiency by getting as close to $1 to beneficiaries for each $1 put into the bureaucracy and nothing in the press release implies this.

The press release doesn't imply that bureaucratic costs exceed benefits paid out, either. It doesn't say a lot of things. There's that old straw man again. Do you have evidence that your measure of efficiency - a $ to $ ratio of the cost to benefit - is not being met?

And speaking of evidence, what do you have that shows that fraud is such a huge problem in this program?

From the same link:
"Moreover, waste, fraud, and overhead costs are low, comparatively. ...The accuracy rate is now about 95 percent, and overhead costs are down to 10 percent—low, given that case workers do in-person interviews with every recipient."


Finally, I find it very ironic that you claim to want to limit bureaucratic costs, that you go off about misplaced priorities in government handouts to green scam artists and condo developers (even when it's not appropriate, like in this thread), while lobbying for drug testing.

http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,2090871-2,00.html

"Several studies, including a 1996 report from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, have found that there is no significant difference in the rate of illegal-drug use by welfare applicants and other people. Another study found that 70% of illegal-drug users between the age of 18 and 49 are employed full time."

http://www.kansascity.com/2011/09/30/3168331/commentary-drug-testing-welfare.html

"Gov. Rick Scott’s crusade to drug-test cash welfare applicants is turning out to be another thick-headed scheme that’s backfiring on Florida taxpayers.

The biggest beneficiaries are the testing companies that collect $10 to $25 for urine, blood or hair screening, a fee being paid by the state (you and me) whenever the applicant tests clean — currently about 97 percent of the cases.

The law, which easily passed the Legislature this year, was based on the misinformed and condescending premise that welfare recipients are more prone to use illegal drugs than people who are fortunate enough to have jobs.

Statistically, the opposite is true, despite the claims of Scott and Republican legislators who cheered this unnecessary and intrusive law.

The Department of Children and Families reports that since July, when the drug-testing program started, only 2.5 percent of welfare applicants have failed.

By contrast, about 8.9 percent of the general population illegally uses some kind of drug, according to the 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health."

meanwhile in Lake Oswego they want to take our gorgeous CSA fertile fields that feed at least 500 families and turn them into ballfields- NOW there's sustainability somewhere in that notion?

How sustainable was it to take our best fertile land in the valley within the UGB and fill it with development?
Guess people were so worried about sprawl, they didn't think about the best land for growing food being taken...
until too late.
Remember those local luscious strawberries and the many fields growing food? ... now growing urban street trees and we have to pay more to ship food here.

Or maybe it was a large black woman buying filet mignon and driving a Cadillac.

Would that be a "straw woman" on that race card?

Heavens!

And after all that chiding, too.

The "hipsters in a late model Volvo buying artisan cheese" stereotype is just an updated, local version of Reagan's 80's era welfare queen. I would think you'd recognize the difference between sarcasm and logical fallacy.


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