My friend Jose sent me this wonderful article from The College Conservative.
During the 2010 and 2011 summers, I was a cashier at Wal-Mart #1788 in Scarborough, Maine. I spent hours upon hours toiling away at a register, scanning, bagging, and dealing with questionable clientele. These were all expected parts of the job, and I was okay with it. What I didn’t expect to be part of my job at Wal-Mart was to witness massive amounts of welfare fraud and abuse.
I understand that sometimes, people are destitute. They need help, and they accept help from the state in order to feed their families. This is fine. It happens. I’m not against temporary aid helping those who truly need it. What I saw at Wal-Mart, however, was not temporary aid. I witnessed generations of families all relying on the state to buy food and other items. I literally witnessed mothers of small children asking their mothers if they could borrow their EBT cards. I once had a man show me his welfare card for an ID to buy alcohol. The man was from Massachusetts. Governor Michael Dukakis’ signature was on his welfare card. Dukakis’ last gubernatorial term ended in January of 1991. I was born in June of 1991. The man had been on welfare my entire life. That’s not how welfare was intended, but sadly, it is what it has become.
Here are just two short anecdotes:
a) People ignoring me on their iPhones while the state paid for their food. (For those of you keeping score at home, an iPhone is at least $200, and requires a data package of at least $25 a month. If a person can spend $25+ a month so they can watch YouTube 24/7, I don’t see why they can’t spend that money on food.)
d) A man who ran a hotdog stand on the pier in Portland, Maine used to come through my line. He would always discuss his hotdog stand and encourage me to “come visit him for lunch some day.” What would he buy? Hotdogs, buns, mustard, ketchup, etc. How would he pay for it? Food stamps. Either that man really likes hotdogs, or the state is paying for his business. Not okay.
I urge you with every fiber of my body to click through and read the true story of Welfare Queen #1 and Welfare Queen #2. Read them, and weep. Just because someone is poor, it doesn’t mean that they are automatically a good person. Maybe they are poor because they are irresponsible and selfish. Had you ever considered that? In any case, it’s not the government’s job to hand out money without knowing anything about the person who is getting the money. Government should leave the money in the hands of people who earn it, and let us decide who deserves to receive charity. (At the most, they should give us a tax deduction for charity up to 10% of our gross income to encourage more private charity)
But wait! There’s more!
From Human Events, toll workers being paid over $100,000 a year by the government.
Ladies and gentlemen, meet Princesella Smith, who raked in $89,599 for operating the toll lanes at the George Washington Bridge in 2011.
Smith isn’t alone. An investigation by the New York Post revealed that another toll booth operator pulled in a whopping $102,670 in 2011, $40K of that money coming in overtime. In total, as the Post notes, there are at least 24 New York and New Jersey workers who have raked in more than $80,000 as “public” workers at a job that requires us to hand them even more of our money.
[...]Besides excessive wages to people whose only skill requirement is to sit on a stool and count and collect dollar bills, tax dollars reserved for transportation uses have gone to a panoply of nonessential programs. As Ronald Utt of The Heritage Foundation points out, the “highway trust fund” has been raided to pay for Indian reservations, historic preservation sites, Appalachian and Mississippi Delta development, roadside beautification, bicycles, hiking paths, university research, and—the granddaddy of all expenses—feeding the $425 million beast that is the Department of Transportation.
The Port Authority (PA), for instance, employees a gardener for $94,000 and a blacksmith for $146,000 a year. Heck, there are even retired PA employees who are making around that amount by cashing in on unused vacation and comp time. (Here’s an idea: As we’re facing budget deficits well into our future, how about requiring public employees to use their vaca time … or lose it. No cashing in allowed.)
The larger problem highlighted with transportation spending, as Ronald Utt underscores, is the concept of public ownership. A paltry 65% of highway taxes collected actually go to making driving a more pleasant experience for commuters. The rest is squandered on whatever fancies a politician’s spending appetite at a given moment. As the number of people driving has increased on the nation’s roads and highways (up 71% since 1970), lawmakers in Washington, D.C., and around the country have funneled money to stupid bike lines and high-speed rail debacles.
If I were President, I would immediately cancel all pensions for retired public sector workers and outlaw public sector unions. What a colossal waste of money.
UPDATE: John Hawkins just posted a column entitled “The Five Things You Can Learn From Wal-Mart“.