Conservatives can be roughly divided up into two groups: Christian Conservatives, and Free-Market Conservatives. Christian conservatives, by far the rarer of the two, have a lot going against them — but at least they believe in feeding the poor, as is spoken of repeatedly in their instruction manual.
Free-Market Conservatives (which include pseudochristian conservatives) follow a different doctrine. Namely, the Classical Libertarian doctrine that says poverty and starvation are both inevitable, and desirable, necessary motivators to keep labor costs down.
The latter group’s found a degree of moral justification for this belief in Ronald Reagan’s “Welfare Queen.” You know, the lazy (probably black) woman with six kids, whose sole purpose in life is to make a living off the government by whatever means necessary. No fraud is too low, no effort too high for the Welfare Queen to take what she thinks she has coming to her. And to hear Free-Market Conservatives tell it, the Food Stamp system is practically nothing but. Especially since the recession that they had nothing to do with, and that time the black guy promised that they could all quit their jobs and still eat like kings. Or queens.
Unfortunately, though, as is the case with so many conservative mythologies — this one seems to have little to no basis in reality.
According to a new study by the non-partisan group Stateline, not only is the rate of Food Stamp fraud only at about 3.2 percent nationwide, it’s actually gone down since the Bush Recession. In fact, thanks to a set of initiates undertaken at both the state and federal levels, food stamp under- or over-payments are at the lowest they’ve been since SNAP’s original “Food Stamp Program” predecessor came into being in 1939.
Food stamp fraud has toppled by almost two thirds.
In fact, national fraud/error rate has toppled by almost two-thirds from Bush’s second year of presidency in 2002 to Obama’s fourth year in 2013. In 2002, Food Stamp fraud was at about 8 percent — in 2013 it hit 3.2 percent.
This even in spite of the fact that food stamp enrollments nearly doubled (from 28.2 million to 47.6 million) from immediately before the Bush Recession to 2013, the error rate dropped an average of 2.4 percent among the 37 states that saw a drop. Five states stayed about the same, generally because their error rates were already low. In fact, during the Bush Recession Era, only eight states saw a rise in Food Stamp fraud. See if you can detect a trend among the pink/red states on this data map designed by Jake Grovum with data from State Line’s analysis of agricultural data.
Obviously, some states have done better than others in terms of reducing what little Food Stamp Fraud there’s been, and some have gone up. And obviously, our Tea Friends are going to say “That’s cause them lazy, moochin libs is takin ever’thang!” But, let’s count the scorecard here. among the states where fraud increased:
- Montana — Very Strongly Conservative
- Wyoming — Very Strongly Conservative
- Georgia — Very Strongly Conservative
- North Carolina — Strongly Conservative
- Colorado — Balanced
- Hawaii — Balanced, Leaning Dem
- Vermont — Leaning Liberal/Progressive
- Rhode Island — Strongly Liberal/Progressive
And that’s as of 2013. A closer examination of the data map reveals that had this been released in 2011, almost no conservative states (with the notable exceptions of Texas, Louisiana and South Carolina) would have registered lower than the national average for food stamp fraud. The Dem states at that time were almost all running at or below the national average.
So, up until 2011, conservatives were the professional system-scammers. It was only afterward, when Federal dollars started flowing to states under an incentive grant program for those that cut food stamp expenditures, that red states started cutting back on fraud.
Federal dollars do have a way of motivating Free-Market conservatives.
But, hey — don’t call them Welfare Queens.
H/T Huffington Post