Welfare Reform

The following is a reprint of an article written by Christine Rousselle, a student, who writes a blog for a site called the College Conservative. I didn’t feel the need to add anything to this column:

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 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.

Other things witnessed while working as a cashier included:

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.)

b) People using TANF (EBT Cash) money to buy such necessities such as earrings, kitkat bars, beer, WWE figurines, and, my personal favorite, a slip n’ slide. TANF money does not have restrictions like food stamps on what can be bought with it.

c) Extravagant purchases made with food stamps; including, but not limited to: steaks, lobsters, and giant birthday cakes.

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.

The thing that disturbed me more than simple cases of fraud/abuse was the entitled nature of many of my customers. One time, a package of bell peppers did not ring up as food in the computer. After the woman swiped her EBT card, it showed a balance that equaled the cost of the peppers. The woman asked what the charge was, and a quick glance at the register screen showed that the peppers did not ring up as food. (Food items had the letter ‘F’ next to their description.) The woman immediately began yelling at me, saying that, “It’s food! You eat it!”

This wasn’t the only time things like this happened: if a person’s EBT balance was less than they thought it would be, or if their cards were declined, it was somehow my fault. I understand the situation is stressful, but a person should be knowledgeable about how much money is in their account prior to going grocery shopping. EBT totals are printed on receipts, and every cell phone has a calculator function. There’s no excuse, and there’s no reason to yell at the cashier for it.

The worst thing I ever saw at Wal-Mart Scarborough was two women and their children. These women each had multiple carts full of items, and each began loading them at the same time (this should have been a tip-off to their intelligence levels). The first woman, henceforth known as Welfare Queen #1, paid for about $400 worth of food with food stamps. The majority of her food was void of any nutritional value. She then pulled out an entire month’s worth of WIC (Women, Infants, and Children program) checks. I do not mind people paying with WIC, but the woman had virtually none of the correct items. WIC gives each participating mother a book containing actual images of items for which a person can and cannot redeem the voucher. This woman literally failed at image comprehension.

After redeeming 10+ WIC checks, Welfare Queen #1 had me adjust the prices of several items she was buying (Wal-Mart’s policy is to just adjust the price of the item without question if it’s within a dollar or two). She then pulled out a vacuum cleaner, and informed me that the cost of the vacuum was $3.48 because, “that’s what it’s labeled as.” The vacuum cleaner was next to a stack of crates that were $3.48. Somehow, every other customer was able to discern that the vacuum cleaner was not $3.48, but Welfare Queen #1 and her friend Welfare Queen #2 were fooled. Welfare Queen #2 informed me that she used to work for Wal-Mart, and that the “laws of Wal-Mart legally said” that I would have to sell her the vacuum for $3.48. After contacting my manager, who went off to find the proper vacuum price, Welfare Queen #1 remarked that it must be tough to stand on a mat all day and be a cashier. I looked at her, smiled, shrugged, and said, “Well, it’s a job.” She was speechless. After they finally admitted defeat, (not before Welfare Queen #2 realizing she didn’t have enough money to buy all of the food she had picked out, resulting in the waste of about $200 worth of products) the two women left about an hour and a half after they arrived at my register. The next man in line said that the two women reminded him of buying steel drums and cement. I said I was reminded why I vote Republican.

Maine has a problem with welfare spending. Maine has some of the highest rates in the nation for food stamp enrollment, Medicaid, and TANF. Nearly 30% of the state is on some form of welfare. Maine is the only state in the nation to rank in the top two for all three categories. This is peculiar, as Maine’s poverty rate isn’t even close to being the highest in the nation. The system in Maine is far easier to get into than in other states, and it encourages dependency. When a person makes over the limit for benefits, they lose all benefits completely. There is no time limit and no motivation to actually get back to work. Furthermore, spending on welfare has increased dramatically, but there has been no reduction of the poverty rate. Something is going terribly wrong, and the things I saw at work were indicators of a much larger problem. Something must change before the state runs out of money funding welfare programs.

Jokes of the Day

1) One day the school principal was talking to Little Johnny’s teacher about his behavior, when all of a sudden Johnny comes running down the hallway.

The principal stops Johnny and asks him, “Why are you running?”

Little Johnny says, “I’m keeping two kids from fighting, sir.”

“Who?” asked the principal.

“Me and the kid chasing me!” and off he went.

2) Actual Police Quotes:

“The handcuffs are tight because they’re new. They’ll stretch out after you wear them awhile.”

“If you run, you’ll only go to jail tired.”

“So, you don’t know how fast you were going. I guess that means I can write anything I want on the ticket, huh?”

“Yes sir, you can talk to the shift supervisor, but I don’t think it will help. Oh, did I mention that I am the shift supervisor?”

“The answer to this last question will determine whether you are drunk or not. Was Mickey Mouse a cat or dog?”

“Yeah, we have a quota. Two more tickets and my wife gets a toaster oven.”

“Life’s tough, it’s tougher if you’re stupid.”

“Just how big were those two beers?

I Can’t Believe it’s not Butter

by: the Common Constitutionalist

The great Norwegian butter shortage! Yes, it’s true. Norway has a shortage of butter.

Stores in Norway are seeing long lines of people waiting to buy butter; a sight that Europe hasn’t seen since the fall of Communism.

The shortfall is estimated at between 500 to 1000 tons. That’s a lot of Butter.

Prices of a pack of butter, weighing around a half a kilo (500 grams), a little more than a pound, are being driven out of sight. Some online sellers are asking up to 350 Euros (about $465.00) for 1 pack.

Sheeesh! Can you say Weimar Republic revisited?

But why the shortage?

Some have blamed it on the unusually wet summer that drove yields down. Some others have said it is the new Norway. It’s citizens are opting for lower carb, higher fat diets, which has increased demand recently. They both sound like reasonable explanations on the surface, but we’re not about the surface.

Let’s take a closer look.

Norway is a socialist country. You know, like we aspire to be.

Currently, in America, there are too many butter producers to name. In Norway, there is effectively, ONE. That wouldn’t pose a problem, would it?

Tine Company is the producer of over 90% of all butter in Norway. The Norwegian government granted that monopoly to it. Remember, monopolies are bad unless the government says they’re not.

Evidently, Tine has done a pretty fair job of butter production until now. Maybe it’s that wet summer thing. Nope, that’s not it. Right next door is Sweden. They have butter out the wazoo and their summer was wetter than Norway’s.

Well, if Sweden has all that butter, perhaps Norway could just import it until they catch up? Unfortunately, tariffs are so high, that it makes imports virtually impossible. BUY NORWEGIAN! Look for the Norwegian label. Everybody sing!

This is how socialism works. First, the government takes control of production. Next, they pick a winner, say Tine. Then they tax the heck out of any foreign company trying to import to them. All the government has to do after that, is dictate how much the producer can make & what price it is to be sold.

Then they all just sit back & watch the experiment fail, as it always does.

With any luck, the people eventually figure out the great experiment isn’t working & they demand change. Well, they’re going to get it. Unfortunately it will only be temporary.

The government has decided to take drastic measures and has cut import tariffs by more than 80 percent until the end of March. It has also lifted milk quotas for domestic farmers that were in place to avoid overproduction in the market. Overproduction does not appear to be their problem. After that, everything goes back to the way it was, where centralized planners cannot react to fluctuations in the marketplace. By the way, Importers are not allowed to sell their products for less than the government dictates.

So that’s a lesson in socialism. Sounds great, eh?

Joke of the Day

A man, on his way to work, is travelling on the Washington Beltway. He comes up on a traffic jam & becomes stuck. Nothing is moving.

Suddenly, a man knocks on the window. The driver rolls down the window and asks, “What’s going on?”

“Terrorists have kidnapped Congress & the President. They are demanding a $10 million dollar ransom. Otherwise, they are going to douse them all in gasoline and set them on fire. We are going from car to car, taking up a collection.”

“How much is everyone giving, on average?” the driver asks.

The man replies, “About a gallon.”

It’s Newt, What’s not to like?

When asked during an interview whether he was a progressive, Newt Gringrich answered, “I don’t know. It depends on what standard you’re using”. What standard? There is only one standard for progressivism. Are you for Big Government solutions for everything or will you allow the people to rule themselves.

Glenn Beck asked why so many Tea Partiers support, or at the very least, would accept Gingrich as their candidate?

I admit, I liked Gingrich at first. He is terrific in the debates. He gives all the right answers.

Something kept eating at me though. I couldn’t get that commercial out of my head. You know the one. Him and Bella Pelosi [I vant (want) to suck your vallet (wallet)] on the couch together, telling us about the scourge of Global Warming. He has stated on many occasions, “That was the single dumbest thing I’ve done in decades”. That’s no answer. Why would any true conservative, who has done any research, do such a thing?

The answer has recently become quite obvious. Newt is not a conservative. He is a Big Government Progressive. One doesn’t need to be of the left to be a progressive.

His favorite President of this era is not Ronald Reagan. It is FDR! What? It’s true.

Just the other day, he also described himself as Wilsonian.

So, let’s see. The three presidents he admires
are Teddy Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson & Franklin Roosevelt. Wholly Crap!! The three most radical progressives in American history. Everything that is wrong with America, they started.

Has the Republican Party gone collectively insane? We have two very good, solid conservatives in Bachmann & Santorum & neither can get any traction. It seems our choice will come down to the ruination of our country, slowly (on a train with the progressive right) or rapidly (on the Concorde with the radical progressive left).

The following is a quote from the sixties. The author of this quote was an advisor to several presidents. His name was Professor Carroll Quigley.

“The argument that the two parties should represent opposed ideas and policies is a foolish idea. Instead, the two parties should be almost identical, so that the American people can throw the rascals out at any election without leading to any profound or extensive shifts in policy. Then it should be possible to replace it every four years if necessary, by the other party, which will be none of these things but will still pursue, with new vigor, approximately the same basic policies.”

There ya go. The progressive mantra. Right or left. It’s all the same.

Back to Newt.

Gingrich stands for an individual mandate to force us to buy health insurance. He said so. Don’t let him fool you.

He favors ethanol subsidies. Heck, even John McCain is starting to wise up on that one.

He supported the Fairness Doctrine.

He supported both TARP & the bailouts.

He supported Federal oversight of education.

He strongly opposed the budget proposal of Paul Ryan. I didn’t think it went far enough but you have start somewhere.

He is a friend to illegal aliens, supporting a path to “Legal Status”. Another term would be “Amnesty”.

He voted for the Department of Education.

None of these sound the slightest bit like conservative ideals.

We need someone, anyone, with core conservative values to run against the leftist radical. One who has an unwavoring value system. Not just a progressive from the other party. A proud conservative who says what they mean & mean what they say. Anyone like this could easily beat Obama.

If we elect another progressive, it will be the beginning of the end. If we reelect Obama, it is the end.

I hope we wake up in time.

Attribution: GBTV

Jokes of the Day

1) An efficiency expert concluded his lecture with a note of caution. “You don’t want to try these techniques at home.”

“Why not?” asked somebody from the audience.

“I watched my wife’s routine at breakfast for years,” the expert explained. “She made lots of trips between the refrigerator, stove, table and cabinets, often carrying a single
item at a time. One day I told her, ‘Hon, why don’t you try carrying several things at once?'”

“Did it save time?” the person in the audience asked.

“Actually, yes,” replied the expert. “It used to take her 20 minutes to make breakfast. Now I do it in seven.”

2) A young businessman had just started his own firm. He rented a beautiful office and had it furnished with antiques. Sitting there, he saw a man come into the outer office. Wishing to appear the hot shot, the businessman picked up the phone and started to pretend he had a big deal working.

He threw huge figures around and made giant commitments. Finally he hung up and asked the visitor, “”Can I help you?””

The man said, “”Yeah, I’ve come to activate your phone lines.”

The Real Cost of Energy

Is everyone used to paying $3.50 a gallon for gas yet? Yes? I thought so. How about the same for home heating oil or electricity? Funny how we don’t hear about the cost of energy much now that it has become the “New Normal”.

I have seen the damaging effects on the New England economy first hand. Not only does it effect my own wallet but also the budgets of many businesses in the Northeast & all over the country. Manufacturing, office buildings, school systems, etc. Both the private & public sectors have been negatively affected by the cost of energy.

My company sells products to a full spectrum of businesses from food processors to pharmaceutical companies, local, state & federal facilities and a multitude of manufacturers. Our core clientele is the heating industry & the manufacture & distribution of steam for heat & processing. We’ve seen first hand, the budgetary damage of high fuel costs. Purchases being postponed and maintenance delayed because of it.

It doesn’t have to be this way. We have more sources of energy in North America than anywhere in the world.

On Tuesday, December 6, 2011, the Institute for Energy Research released a groundbreaking report about North America’s vast energy resources.

The amount of oil that is technically recoverable in the United States is more than 1.4 trillion barrels, with the largest deposits located offshore, in portions of Alaska, and in shale in the Rocky Mountain West. When combined with resources from Canada and Mexico, total recoverable oil in North America exceeds 1.7 trillion barrels.

That is more oil than the world has used since the first well was drilled over 150 years ago in Titusville, Pennsylvania. To put this in context, Saudi Arabia has about 260

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billion barrels of oil in proved reserves. For comparative purposes, the technically recoverable oil in North America could fuel the present needs in the United states of seven billion barrels per year for around 250 years. That’s just oil.

Thanks to our Nanny Government & the Enviroloons, restrictions in the form of federal bans and leasing combined with declining offerings of lease acreage mean only about 2.2

This is 2004. It's a lot More Now.


percent of America’s offshore acreage is currently leased for production.

Proven reserves of natural gas in the United States and throughout North America are enormous, and the total amount of recoverable natural gas is even more impressive.

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The EIA (Energy Institute of America) estimates that the United States has 272.5 trillion cubic feet of proved reserves of natural gas. The total amount of natural gas that is recoverable in North America is approximately 4.2 quadrillion (4,244 trillion) cubic feet.

Given that U.S. consumption is currently about 24 trillion cubic feet per, there is enough natural gas in North America to last the United States for over 175 years at current rates of consumption.

The most staggering figure is North America’s coal reserves. The United States, Canada,

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and Mexico have over 497 billion short tons of recoverable coal, or nearly three times as much as Russia, which has the world’s second largest reserves.

North American recoverable coal could provide enough electricity for the United States for about 500 years at current levels of consumption.

Does this make you as angry as it does me? Not just that the cost of enegy is so high & will go higher. It’s the fact that it is purposeful.

Attribution: Energy for America

You Could Retire in Less than a Year!

That sounds great! How do I do it you say? It’s easy. Just get elected to Congress.

From Newsmax:

(My editorial comments represented by [EC].)

As Congress weighs a measure that would ban insider trading among lawmakers and federal workers, the conservative author whose book touched off a national maelstrom on the topic insists that the practice rises to the level of corruption. [EC: Congress regulating itself? Today’s Congress is the epidemy of a nation (unto itself) of men & not laws. The exact opposite of our founder’s vision.]

“There’s no question about it. We are supposed to be a country governed by laws, not by men,” conservative author Peter Schweizer said during an exclusive interview with Newsmax.TV.

A research fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, Schweizer chronicles alleged abuses by members of both the House and the Senate in his new book, “Throw Them All Out,” which was heavily featured on “60 Minutes” with reporter Steve Kroft going after leaders of the two parties in the House on camera.

Both Speaker John Boehner and former Speaker Nancy Pelosi denied they had done anything wrong. But officials have been considering various measures to stop the practice, including the STOCK Act, which has attracted wide support. [EC: This is just like John McCain. We can’t help ourselves. It’s not our fault we’re so corrupt. Sounds like McCain-Feingold revisited.]

“There are no laws that are broken. They’re free to take these sweetheart, so-called friends and family IPO stock,” explains Schweizer. “One of the reforms I propose is that we need to ban them because they are doled out to friends in terms of people looking for favors.”

Schweizer says there should be a “zero tolerance policy” for any lawmaker who benefits financially from knowledge acquired through their House or Senate jobs, similar to trading rules that have existed for years with respect to corporate executives.

“In the book, what I argue is that we have in Washington a permanent political class that often times they come into office relatively modest and leave wealthy,” he explains. “So I think we need to throw those out that are engaged in self-enrichment and there are people on both sides of the aisle that do it. And I just think we need to have a zero-tolerance policy.”

In the past, he says, lawmakers have been able to hide behind a loose definition of insider trading.

“It excludes the kind of government information that they get access to but the fact of the matter is that the information that members of Congress view all the time is market-moving information,” he says. “They may have oversight of the Food and Drug Administration and find out from somebody in a phone conversation that a particular drug is going to be approved.” It’s akin to athletes betting on sporting events. [EC: It’s much worse. In sports, they still have to play the game. It’s a virtual slam-dunk in the stock market. I follow the market & I’ll tell you, it’s almost a lock that if the FDA approves a drug, that stock will jump very quickly. It’s stealing, plain & simple.]

“Now we wouldn’t let a professional athlete do that,” he says. “But they (lawmakers) do this all of the time, literally introducing a piece of information and then trading in the stock in that same sector, picking the winners and selling the losers.”

For example, Pelosi and her husband doubled their stock investment on a highly sought after Visa IPO in a matter of only weeks, according to Schweizer.

“She and her husband were given access to low price, pre-IPO shares of stock — 5,000 shares that they were able to buy for $44 apiece and then they were able to see that value go up by 50 percent in one day, and then more than double in value within a couple of weeks,” he says, adding that the deal took place during Pelosi’s reign as Speaker. [EC: Name another profession one could make a quarter of a million dollars in a week?]

“They were given access to this stock that really hardly any other individual investors were,” he explains. “I would argue the timing was significant because they were given access to the shares at the precise time that Visa was very concerned about two pieces of legislation that would affect its bottom line. And — oh by the way — those pieces of legislation were never even brought by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to the full house for a vote.” [EC: Unlike the evil Dick Cheney, who voluntarily divested himself of all Halliburton interest before becoming V.P., as to not give even a hint of impropriety. He was pilloried anyway.]

He says there were at least eight other instances where Pelosi got access to IPO deals.

“There’s simply no reason that a Speaker of the House or any member of Congress should be getting preferred IPO shares of stock at a low price and making this amount of money,” says Schweizer. “It’s designed totally to curry favor.
I think that if Nancy Pelosi instead of receiving these IPO shares from Visa had received a shoebox of cash, she would be facing criminal charges right now. And in my mind, it’s really a distinction without a difference.”

He points to one study that reveals a correlation between how lawmakers voted with respect to the TARP bailout in 2008 and their own investment portfolios.

“What they found was the number one determining factor in whether you vote for or against, was not whether you were conservative or liberal, not whether you were Republican or Democrat, but whether you owned stocks in the bank sector,” according to Schweizer. “If you did, you voted in favor of the bailout. If you didn’t, you tended to vote against.”

Similarly, another study by the Journal of Quantitative Economics examined 6,000 stock trades.

“They found that corporate insiders — that is corporate executives trading their own company stock — beat the stock market average by 5 percent a year,” while professional Hedge Funds traders were successful 8 percent of the time and U.S. senators topped them all with a 12 percent success rate. [EC: Senators, being smarter than the rest of us, are also better investors, that’s all.]

EC: Being that most of them are also lawyers, I trust they have indeed, as they say, done nothing illegal. As we all know, just because it’s legal, doesn’t make it right.