A friend of mine posted an article the other day which declares “Minnesota Republicans To Outlaw Poor People Having Money”. In the ensuing discussion I made the following observation:
There is a fundamental fact that keeps getting overlooked when we talk about the issue of welfare. And that is that the money in question is not theirs. It was not earned. It is a gift, given by taxpayers. One might even consider it to be a loan, an investment into their, and by extension, society’s, future. And just like any other loan, the borrower, that is the taxpayers in this case, have a right to make sure it is being used for its intended purposes.
Take a home loan for instance. A bank generally expects the money it lends be used for the express purposes outlined in the agreement. In fact a lawyer is usually required to be present to make sure all parties understand their legal obligations. If a person were to take that money and do something else with it outside of the purpose the bank lent it for, the borrower would be guilty of fraud.
That’s the basis for the claims, justified or not, of institutional welfare fraud. Its not that the people are operating outside of the system as it currently exists per se but that the people are doing things with the money given to them by the public that runs counter to the purposes which it was given for.
So when people speak about rights with regard to the poor we need to speak about the rights of all parties involved. The right of the poor to seek improvement for their station in life, the right of the lenders to have accountability for the money they entrust to the poor, and the right of the government personnel to uphold the agreements made by both parties.