Monday, January 05, 2009

Misinformation about FLDS "Welfare Fraud," There isn't any.

I believed it too, back in the day. The number of things I "knew" about the FLDS that it turns out I didn't know, make me fact check just about everything that comes across my desk. I apply more rigor now

I admit, to the claims of the state, than I do those of the FLDS, as they have never lied to me. The closest they have gotten to lying is to go silent when you're close to a problem area. That's not a lie. So, what about that "Welfare Fraud" I used to by into called "Bleeding the Beast?" (Hat Tip Religion News Blog)

The Salt Lake Tribune - "None of the 600 or so residents of the Yearning For Zion Ranch received any form of welfare, according to state officials. Cash assistance is almost nonexistent in the twin towns of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz.

While many families living in the sect's traditional home base receive food and medical help, virtually all those families qualify under program guidelines, authorities say. There has been a single fraud case prosecuted in the past decade.

Yet six speakers at a July 24 Senate Judiciary Committee hearing -- from Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid to former plural wife Carolyn Jessop -- said fraud and misuse of welfare funds is a primary reason the federal government should be more involved in investigating the sect.

Reid said the FLDS have a 'sophisticated, wealthy and vast criminal organization' that includes 'welfare fraud.' "

That's just pandering at best, at worst it's irresponsible demogoguing ignorance on Senator Reid's part. He either knows and is lying, or doesn't know (and you have to know when you don't really know) and is just shooting his mouth off. This is not to say there is no welfare fraud involving FLDS members but for the FLDS to be engaged in Welfare Fraud, as a form of organized crime, it would have to be systematic and widespread. It's not. Individual members have been apprehended for the crime, but that just says they're not perfect, like we're not perfect. What a shock.

"Jared Barlow pled guilty in August to a second-degree felony while Linda Barlow pled guilty to a misdemeanor charge. They were ordered to repay $37,319 to the Utah Department of Workforce Services and complete community service.

'This is the only (prosecution) I am aware of in the past three years,' said Jerry D. Jaeger, deputy attorney with the Washington County Attorney's Office.

Curt Stewart, spokesman for the Utah Department of Workforce Services, said public perception is that welfare fraud is rampant in the polygamous community. But, he added, 'We are not finding that.'

Ezra Draper, a former FLDS member who lives in the community, called the claim the sect has a doctrine requiring use of government aid 'comical.'

'Bleeding the beast' came from outside (the sect),' he said. "It's not their phraseology.'

FLDS spokesman Willie Jessop said the term has only been used by 'anti-FLDS crusaders.' "

There is the feature of the occasional "Cash Assistance" need being a larger claim for FLDS members, because their families are bigger, but the incidence of such claims is not atypical.

"Based on number of recipients, 44 percent of Colorado City residents received food stamps -- not 78 percent, as a guide put together by the Utah Attorney General's Office states. Arizona provided $1.5 million in food stamps to area residents in 2006 and 2007.

Utah did not provide information about recipient numbers. But the average monthly food stamp benefit in Hildale is $829, compared with the typical monthly grant of $250 in Washington County.

As for fraud, Arizona has not prosecuted anyone in Colorado City for misuse of federal or state aid programs, according to a spokeswoman for Attorney General Terry Goddard."

Even the Utah's office of the Attorney General gets into the misinformation act, inflating the numbers by nearly 100%.

Religion News Blog then remembered a "Larry King" interview on CNN with an FLDS member, and at the end, John Quiñones chimes in brightly;

"Yes. It’s called bleeding the beast. The American federal system. When we were there, we found many folks who were on not only welfare and food stamps but also property taxes not being paid and lawsuits filed on that. They’re finally cracking down, the authorities, because dozens and dozens of folks who live in that community aren’t paying property taxes."

And there you have it, the echoes never stop. As Mark Twain said, a lie can travel half way around the world before the truth even gets it's shoes on. In the end, you have a group so hated that no one cares about them, and so they will turn a blind eye when they are done injustices. All we want, is to see someone "get them" and for them to go away.

When confronted with the "inflation" of numbers, Paul Murphy of the Utah Attorney General's office just goes back on the attack. Again, the Salt Lake Tribune.

"(W)hile there may not be 'outright fraud' by the polygamous community, there is 'a resentment that taxpayers are being used to support this lifestyle.' "

That you create Paul. Unless the State of Utah can make the case that the FLDS represent, as a group, a larger burden to state social services or the tax roles or to the Federal Government than the population at large, they are part of the solution, not part of the problem. Anecdotal stories do not a case make, only proving that the FLDS systematically defraud is important. It would seem, they do not.

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ztgstmv said...

If anything the FLDS are a plus for any state they happen to be in. Like the Amish, they pay their bills on time. They also work hard and add the back-breaking labor a state always needs, so that fewer illegal laborers have to be imported from Mexico. More importantly they increase the stock of native born anglo Americans, in the face of a general population decline in that demographic. This helps to preserve our national identity, our culture of freedom, etc., without it being watered down by immigrants from communist/socialist third world countries.

Anonymous said...

"(W)hile there may not be 'outright fraud' by the polygamous community, there is 'a resentment that taxpayers are being used to support this lifestyle.' "

That's his argument for pursuing the FLDS? I can think of many other lifestyles that taxpayers resent supporting (lifestyles of our politicians, lifestyles of our politicians friends (by way of no-bid contracts or massive bailouts), government-subsidized abortion for the sake of preserving one's "lifestyle", tax dollars that promote other-than-abstinence-before-marriage lifestyles in our school age children, just to name a few).

I think this amounts to example # 1,234,567 of the pot calling the stainless-steel kettle black.