There are many reasons to explain why the country is constantly running deficits. All of which revert to reckless government spending. Spending without oversight or accountability is the norm within every agency, bureaucracy, and entity of the public service genre. Lavish retreats with thousands of taxpayer dollars spent on spoof videos, expensive wines, extravagant dinners in 5 star hotels is the proverbial drop-in-the-bucket spending.

Estimates of government waste run as high as 20% of the annual budget. Twenty percent, one fifth of the national economy, is unaccounted each year. A few hundred million here, a billion or so there…it’s not long before we’re talking real money. With current annual federal expenditures around $3.5 trillion, the waste, at a very conservative 15%, is about $5.5 billion. At 20% that figure would be around $7 billion or just shy of $200,000,000 for each man, woman and child in the United States…legal and illegal.

Frauds are perpetrated without repercussion. Sometimes it takes place by individuals within the offices funded by the taxpayer and sometimes it is by those receiving otherwise unearned remuneration from those taxpayers. When it occurs within the agencies, culpability is infrequently identified and thus no accountability is brought forth. Department heads claim ignorance of their charges’ actions and almost never held to answer for the wrongs.

As it is with congress and other governmental departments, if a person is identified as doing wrong, often they are reassigned or resign and draw their pension. If they are not eligible to receive a pension, a large departing gift deposited into the bank account of their choice becomes their mouth-shutting reward. In either case, we pay for their slothful work, then we pay for their departure and life beyond.

Welfare is one of the easiest targets for fraud. Overpaid government workers accept bribes, kickbacks and other compensation for neglecting to clearly identify who is and who is not eligible for services and stipends.

A few months ago, my wife and I went to an ATM at a bank in an upscale neighborhood just north of San Diego. There was one person using the one ATM offered at this location, so we stood somewhat back from the machine and discussed plans for the rest of the day. Avoiding any particular identification of the individual, I’ll simply say that she was not a round-eyed, white European.

Over my wife’s shoulder, I could see the woman take money out of the dispenser, put some of it into her purse, then change screens and insert the rest of the cash into the ATM, obtaining a receipt for the transaction. She then reached into her purse withdrew a different card which was inserted into the ATM. From my vantage point, twelve to fifteen feet away, I could see that the screen offered images of two cards. At first, I could not see the one on the left, but the one on the right clearly read SNAP. For those not in the know, SNAP stands for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, a federal program. As she proceeded through her routine, she stepped slightly aside and I saw that the choice on the left of the screen said EBT. Electronic Benefits Transfer is the California assistance program for low income residents.

Now I was more attentive!

She continued to insert a card, touch an icon, enter a pass code, receive cash, deposit the cash into the machine, and then place the receipt in her purse. She then went through the process not less than three additional times. I have no idea how long she was using the ATM before we arrived or the total number of cards inserted.

One might derive a number of conclusions from what I observed all of which I believe might constitute fraud.

1. She had been saving her unused subsistence payments.

If she had unused benefits from prior months then she was not truly in need of assistance and was receiving it fraudulently.

2. She had possession of cards for multiple people.

Possession of cards belonging to others is illegal.

3. She had multiple identities under which she received payments.

Applying for assistance under multiple identities constitutes fraud.

It seems as though there is little cause for concern within the state or federal governments to investigate fraud of this type. Why? Could it possibly be that the public employees themselves are so engaged in fraud and theft that they don’t want to start rolling an uncontrollable snowball in which might turn on them at the bottom of the hill?

I’m sure it will all change for the better with immigration reform. Millions more people, now in the shadows, coming forth as responsible individuals surely will help stop those who illegally and fraudulently abuse the system.

*Just a note here: Please keep earning money and paying taxes. Many, many people depend on you. And, the government is able to spend your money far more wisely, diligently and efficiently than you. Give a little, give a lot.

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