By STEVEN RAY HERNANDEZ
You can’t have your cake and eat it too……..Or so we thought.
When the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) first kicked off, the idea was to help provide food-purchasing assistance to families with little to no-income here in the U.S. And it did.
However, now, it seems to be providing much more than that, especially here in the Rio Grande Valley, where roughly half a million people receive benefits from the program every month.
We’re talking about Food Stamp Fraud. It’s an issue at the top of almost all taxpayers’ frustration list, not only locally, but nationwide as well. Heck, if I had a dollar for every time I heard someone talk about someone with a new house or car, but meanwhile they are on food stamps, I could probably buy a year’s worth of groceries (excuse the sarcasm). And we’ve all heard the infamous, “I’ll give you 2 for 1,” deal, which refers to the now “customary” trade of double the food stamps for half the cash.
I, myself (and probably you too) have witnessed people sell food stamps for cash, only to go off and use that same money for drugs, alcohol, and other non-essential items. On the flipside (kind-of), I’ve also seen people sell their food stamps, then go off and pay their water bill, electrical bill, phone bill, etc. Which brings us to the question on everybody’s mind: Where do we draw the line?
Unfortunately, we may never have an answer to that question and here’s why:
You see, the truth is that many families, especially here in the Valley, depend on SNAP monthly on a level that many of us more-fortunate people could never fathom. Without it, many local families would essentially starve. Yes, many do abuse it, and abuse it bad. But if a few extra tax dollars out of my check means that a child less-fortunate than me gets a good, hot meal every night, I can live with that. I’d rather have one rotten apple out of five, then no apples at all.
There is, however, somewhat of a solution, but it comes with a price. We can make stricter requirements and restrictions on SNAP, as well as fund a program that helps target and monitor food stamp fraud more accurately. However, who do you thinks going to end up footing that bill? That’s right, you the taxpayer. Either way, you’re gonna pay!
The sad part in all this is that at the end of the day, the only one suffering is the children. You see, adults can lose or waste their food stamp benefits and still have the option to go find work or make money to put food on the table. But children don’t. So if a parent wastes the food stamps or loses their benefits, and doesn’t find a way to put food on the table, the children are left hopeless and hungry. That’s the sad reality, which brings us to another topic that has been brought up recently concerning the food stamp program: drug testing recipients.
I fully understand the motive behind this, but here’s the problem. It’s not a child’s fault if their parent is a drug addict. Why should they suffer even more by taking away one of their only sources of food? I’ll say this: I don’t think a drug addict should be allowed to receive government benefits, but if it means the children don’t starve, I can live with that as well.
Look, here’s the bottom line: It doesn’t matter what the program is, if it’s taxpayer-based and beneficial to someone, people are going to abuse it, plain and simple. We see the same thing every day with Medicaid fraud cases across the U.S. As I said before, we can try and crack down and target these individuals as much as possible, but doing that is going to raise taxes, so be prepared- Either way, you’re gonna pay!