After the flooding in the northern part of the state earlier this month, there was a report coming out of Shreveport that FEMA was giving away cash to people waiting in line for it regardless of whether they were actual flood victims; we weren’t sure whether it was true though none could be surprised at such stories given the government’s track record with waste in such situations.
But State Rep. Mike Johnson followed up on the story, and it turns out it might even be worse than originally thought…
When you look at the number of people who got disaster assistance, you might wonder how Louisiana wasn’t one big lake.The Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services said it passed out almost $6 million in DSNAP benefits, to over 15,000 households, in seven northwest Louisiana parishes.
9 out of 10 who applied got approved.
The problem, FEMA reports only 4,000 homes in those parishes were flooded. Those numbers don’t include people who lost their cars or those who missed work due to the floods, but it still does not come anywhere near 15,000.
“DCFS does a horrible job in combating food stamp fraud,” State Treasurer John Kennedy said.
DSNAP stands for Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. It is federal money, passed out by the state. Benefits range from just under $200 to $1,000, depending on how many people are in a household. The average amount of assistance is $390.
When the state first started handing out DSNAP cards, not many people applied. But then word got around–free money. Drone pictures of traffic outside Louisiana Technical College in north Shreveport. Lines were so long, the national guard was called in to direct traffic.
Caddo Parish was just one example. According to figures from the state and FEMA, 914 homes in Caddo were flooded, but 6,000 households got assistance. The total $2.3 million.
And here’s a punch line from the KTBS report…
It is important to note that not everyone was approved for DSNAP benefits. Nine percent of those who applied for were turned down, including some who were flood victims.The reason? They make too much money, or their damage can be covered by their income and savings.
In other words, actual flood victims couldn’t get any help if they had decent incomes and/or money in the bank, but fake flood victims got paid so long as they were broke.
No perverse incentives there, right?
And of course, when you give away $390 to every poor person with time enough on his or her hands to wait in line for it regardless of whether they’d been flooded, you get four times as many recipients of government swag as you have actual victims – and because of that you’re giving out a quarter of what you would otherwise have to spend on helping people.
$1560 would be a whole lot more meaningful to help out somebody who had truly lost everything than $390. $390 is a pittance.
Or maybe the state wouldn’t need to be passing out $6 million in the first place when practically every government in sight is running a deficit.
Johnson is correct in asking whether the government officials running this idiocy have the faintest clue how outrageous it is and how poisonous to the idea of civil society for people to pay taxes only to be treated as suckers by the state and its clients.