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Sunday, November 13, 2011

Fingerprints Don’t Stop Food Stamp Fraud

Here in New York City, people are still being fingerprinted if they want to apply for Food Stamps. In fact, New York City is only one of two places in the country where people are still being fingerprinted as part of the application process for Food Stamps.

While critics say that fingerprinting keeps government assistance out of the hands of needy New Yorkers, Mayor Mike Bloomberg defends the policy saying that it cuts down on Food Stamp fraud.

To that Shawn says: OH REALLY?

So all those fingerprints are stopping those men and women who loiter around the Path Mark of Harlem asking me if I’m paying cash for all my groceries. Or the people who roll up on me when I’m shopping at Bravo on 170th Street and Grand Concourse. Or the Target at the Gateway Center. Or the Fairway on 86th Street and Second Avenue. I even ran into one of these individuals while I was shopping in the Whole Foods in the Time Warner Center on 59th Street and Columbus Circle in Midtown Manhattan.

Was fingerprinting supposed to stop THAT Food Stamp Fraud? Because it’s still going on. And it continues to go on in Supermarkets ranging from the small stores that sell groceries in the inner-city like C-Towns and Bravos to fancy gourmet markets like Fairway, Whole Foods, Westside Market, Dagastino’s and Food Emporium.

Fingerprinting hasn’t stopped Food Stamp fraud. And no policy ever will.

Food Stamp Fraud has been going on since the social program came out in the late 60’s-early 1970’s. Hustlers have been selling Food stamps for cash since they were paper food coupons for cash back in the 1980’s. And when State governments changed from paper coupon books to benefit cards, with a person’s picture on them in the 1990’s the hustlers just adapted their game on the street. So instead of selling food stamp books in the neighborhood, they prowl supermarkets looking for working class marks to go along with their schemes to save a few bucks on their groceries.

And Mayor Mike Bloomberg says that the law enacted during the Guiliani administration back in the 1990’s will stop Food Stamp Fraud.

Man please. It didn’t stop it then. And it’s not stopping it now.

Laws don’t stop the lawless. Why? Because they never followed the rules anyway.

Just like MetroCards don’t stop farebeaters here in New York City (we actually have MORE people hopping the train instead of paying the fare these days due to the lack of Token Booth Clerks at the local stations), Fingerprints don’t stop food stamp fraud. Technology will never stop a person who is looking to willfully and intentionally break the law from willfully and intentionally breaking the law. Hustlers are always going to find a way around the rules to do their business. What most politicians like Mike Bloomberg don’t understand is that America is a capitalist country and even in impoverished areas savvy hustlers are going to capitalize on an opportunity to make money for themselves.

But backwards policies like this do keep law-abiding citizens like myself who are struggling to stay afloat from buying the food that they need to feed themselves and their families. And here in New York City, hundreds of thousands of people are quietly starving when they could be buying food to take care of their families.

As a brotha who is unemployed and living off my savings, I avoid government assistance like disease. Sure I qualify for Food Stamps, but I want nothing to do with the program due to the interrogating application process and the fingerprint policy here in New York City. Moreover, I don’t want to deal with the degrading and humiliating recertification process New York City’s Human Resource Administration puts people through every 90 days just to keep receiving Food Stamps. While I’m entitled to government assistance, I’d rather sell books and eBooks to make the money I need to stay afloat. And if I need food, I’ll get help from food banks rather than deal with government bureaucracy that wants to scrutinize every portion of my life for a lousy ten bucks on the first or fifteenth of every month.

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