Out-of-state welfare money being used around Orlando attractions

Posted Tuesday, November 8, 2011 9:32 AM | Contributed by Jeff

Missouri welfare dollars are being withdrawn at places like Sea World and the Magical Midway Amusement Park in Orlando, Florida. News 4 requested ATM data from the Missouri Department of Social Services covering a one year period beginning on September 1, 2010.

Read more and see video from KMOV/St. Louis.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011 8:54 PM

+1 for Vater. Made me laugh, after about 3 seconds of thinking about it here in New Jersey.

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Wednesday, November 9, 2011 9:35 PM

I'm still a little confused... Aren't they being paid to perform a service? Only in this case, the government is serving as a de facto temp agency. Or am I misunderstanding?

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Wednesday, November 9, 2011 9:55 PM

I don't know. I guess the same part of me who doesn't care what the "1%" does with their money doesn't care what the bottom percent does, either.

I just don't see stuff like this as an issue. It reeks of sensationalist slow news day hype. If these same people had used an atm at home before leaving, no one would know orcare. (See how I worked "orca" in there?)

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Wednesday, November 9, 2011 9:57 PM

Vater said:
If you give a homeless dude 100 bucks, you wouldn't care if they blew it on a ticket to Disney World?

And did you say 'earned'?

I would care. That's a concern with a lot of people when they are asked to give money to a homeless person. They don't know what they are going to spend it on. Drugs, beer, a hooker, more drugs? lol

When I said earned, I was using info that Clint gave us about the program. He said...

Cash Benefits are given out to be used for whatever someone wants to use them for. It's not fraud, it's not wrong, it's not anyone's business what the money is being spent on. Because they in a sense 'earned' that money by completing their activities (Which include things like janitorial work, classes on self sufficiency, and a host of other things). The government doesn't feel they should regulate how that money is spent.

I received unemployment a while back. I spent some of that money on a Wii game and a weekend trip to see family. I am not ashamed about it at all.

A family member of mine is on SS Disability. She goes on a cruise, among other vacations and trips, a few times a year. I'm not bitter about that.

It's none of my business if someone wants to spend some of their "hand out" on entertainment, or something that I deem a luxury. If someone wants to use their SNAP benefits to buy lobster tails, good for them.

I would guess that a lot of these Orlando trips by benefit receivers are gifts from family. If you need help from the government, you probably can't afford to spend it on Sea World or Disney. A family member of mine could never afford to make her yearly Disney trek if it were not't for her Aunt living near Orlando letting her stay with her.

It's wrong to judge people without knowing the facts... That's all I'm saying.

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Wednesday, November 9, 2011 10:01 PM

kpjb said:
no one would know orcare. (See how I worked "orca" in there?)

That was killer - A real whale of a pun.

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Wednesday, November 9, 2011 10:44 PM

Aren't they being paid to perform a service?

Yes, and if they don't perform the service/activity, then their check gets cut off. Kind of like a job...

In order to receive TANF Benefits, you have to be a family with dependents. Single people with no children are not eligible. Married couples with no children are not eligible.

Here's a good breakdown of some numbers. It shows that it isn't like these people are getting a lot of money. The numbers are slightly outdated, but the amt of money per state hasn't changed very much (only a few dollars here and there) in the last 10 years.

Link

And again, even if there was a system in place where there were restrictions on what can be bought, then the people that want to commit fraud would do what they already do for SNAP benefits, they'd sell someone willing to purchase a card with $200 in food & nutrition benefits available for $150 in cash. It happens all the time. And again, I don't agree with it, but unless the government hires way more people to police the situation, it's not going to change. The fraudsters already know how to defeat a system like the one proposed here, why spend money implementing it?

Just a personal story, a good friend of mine is the lead fraud investigator in the region I used to work in. Before I moved out of state, I was on my way to applying and becoming a fraud investigator, and had I stayed, I likely would have taken his job when he moved up, as his boss really liked me and encouraged me to go into fraud investigation. Anywho, one day, before my friend got his promotion, he was on his lunch break and walked into a grocery store. Some random person walked up to him and wanted to know if he wanted to purchase an EBT card with a certain amount of SNAP benefits on them. My friend said "Let me see the card", at witch point random fraudster handed it to him. Then my friend gave the fraudster his business card and told him he'd be hearing from him further.

So there you go. Just because a fraud investigator got lucky once doesn't mean that it doesn't happen thousands of times a day and goes uncaught. Heck, I knew the times of month that some of my former clients would call to report their card 'stolen' because they'd just sold it to someone for drug money, and they immediately were calling in on their cell phone to tell me the card is stolen because they knew as soon as I ordered a new one, the one they just sold became invalid, and now they had money, and in about 5 days, a new card.

Why spend millions to stop that when at best the amount of fraud comes in at such a small percent of what cash is being given out and used by needy families? In this economy? Not going to happen.

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Wednesday, November 9, 2011 10:52 PM

When I said earned, I was using info that Clint gave us about the program. He said...

I just want to comment on this. Of the people eligible for the TANF benefit, they have to participate in an activity for 20 hours a week. And a family of three gets less than $450 back home for 80 hours of participation. Participation is based on what would benefit them most and make them self sustaining. It could be a class on how to get a job that transitions into OJT. It could be completing your GED and transitioning. It could be actual college classes (that aren't usually being paid for by the state). It could be actual work (Labor jobs like janitorial, city/county civic jobs like picking up trash along highways), and all forms of community service. So in a sense it is 'earned'.

The one big thing that I do not agree with is that most states pay benefits at the first of the month contingent on the state having 'faith' that the members receiving the benefits will complete their time. There are some places, and some counties in NC do this, where you have to complete participation in order to receive your monthly check, which I think should be standard. That way you don't get paid at the beginning of the month, not participate, and then get sanctioned, you have to work to get the benefits, or you don't receive them.

It's been in my experience in actually seeing the program work and in talking to others across the nation who work in similar programs that typically the issues aren't so much that people are getting money, spending willy nilly, and living off the system, which is why it doesn't work, but more that there is an overwhelming majority of workers who don't care about their clients, do the least amount of work with their clients as possible, get paid to sit at their desk, and browse the internet all day. You can't be a worker with those types of programs and be successful with your clients if you don't care. It simply won't work.

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Thursday, November 10, 2011 1:07 PM

You have to do some sort of service. It's not a job.

The difference being? After all, the vast majority of jobs really boil down to "put[ting] some time in doing crap to 'earn' your [pay]"

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Thursday, November 10, 2011 1:21 PM

The difference is being employed.

I'm hoping this is devil's advocate kind of stuff, because we aren't really comparing the gainfully employed to those who are on the 'work for welfare' program, are we?

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Thursday, November 10, 2011 1:29 PM

Not as long as you are willing to agree that |gainfully employed| < |employed|.

And, possibly "<<"

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Thursday, November 10, 2011 1:33 PM

I look at it this way - mechanically speaking there's not much difference between consensual sex and rape. But the circumstances surrounding the two define them in totally different ways.

This kind of works the same way. Mechanically speaking, putting in time for money is happening in both scenarios, but it's the circumstances surrounding each that defines it.

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Thursday, November 10, 2011 1:38 PM

So...where do you put college work study "jobs"? Those are almost universally make-work for the student.

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Thursday, November 10, 2011 1:43 PM

I'll admit to not being entirely familiar with it. I found this. Is that what we're talking?

Based on that info (and my understanding of it), it's welfare.

EDIT - Let me add, it's all about the situation. If Grandma sends me money for my birthday and wants me to have fun, she doesn't care if I spend it on hookers and blow. But if I ask her for money to help make ends meet this month, the circumstances in which the money was given change and she's gonna be pissed if I drop the cash on hookers and blow.

When you go to the government looking for money, the government is helping you survive. The work and money is given so that you don't die, not so that you can go to Sea World. There is no Visit Sea World Assistance or Grant available that I know of.

I think there's an assumed line there and I'm not sure it's really all that blurry.

Last edited by Lord Gonchar, Thursday, November 10, 2011 1:50 PM
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Thursday, November 10, 2011 2:46 PM

Lord Gonchar said:
But if I ask her for money to help make ends meet this month, the circumstances in which the money was given change and she's gonna be pissed if I drop the cash on hookers and blow.

If she's mad in that case, it's only because you didn't adequately explain what "ends" you were trying to meet. :)

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Thursday, November 10, 2011 4:57 PM

Jason beat me to it.

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Thursday, November 10, 2011 6:10 PM

Lord Gonchar said:
If Grandma sends me money for my birthday and wants me to have fun, she doesn't care if I spend it on hookers and blow.

Remember that talk years ago of us being separated at birth?

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Thursday, November 10, 2011 7:37 PM

This place is getting too political! Nobody seems to want to talk "rides" anymore. ;)

I personally don't think any government agency should ever be allowed to distribute cash. Vouchers for cheese and clothes. Vouchers for heat or rent assistance.

How our society/government got to a point in which the masses accept redistribution without any strings attached is astounding.

If we utilized a voucher system or strict goods exchange... There is no way fraud would not be less. There would always be some...but how many blocks of cheese and hand-me-down clothes would be incentive to cheat the system?

Now a trip to Sea World...? Tek...where do I sign up?

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Thursday, November 10, 2011 8:43 PM

Don't invoke my name.

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Thursday, November 10, 2011 9:18 PM

To be fair, he only invoked the first 3 letters of your name. I mean, he could have been referring to anyone with those particular letters.

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Thursday, November 10, 2011 9:50 PM

Don't take up for him.

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Closed topic.

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