The shocking news that the suspected marathon bombers were on the Bay State dole — even as the late Tamerlan Tsarnaev took a six-month jaunt to hang out with jihadis in Dagestan — has thrown a glaring national spotlight on the troubled Massachusetts welfare system.
“The proper question is: How can somebody afford an expensive, international flight when they’re on public assistance?” said U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), a member of the House Committee on Homeland Security. “Maybe they had some relative pay for them, but if that’s the case, maybe some relative should be paying for their meal card.”The deeper issue is not that terrorists were receiving assistance; there's simply no way to know what evil lurks in the heart of men and all that. The issue is oversight - there doesn't appear to be any. Assistance benefits are supposed to stop if a person receiving it leaves the state for more than two months - yet Tamerlan spent some six months over in Russia without losing assistance.
There's a list in the article of different problems with public assistance in the state of Massachusetts. There's precious little oversight from the agencies that distribute the money; fraud detection is non-existent; recipients receive more assistance than they qualify for; all the hallmarks of an out-of-control public agency that does little more than throw a ton of taxpayer money at an undefined "problem". This is not limited to Massachusetts - a good friend of mine who found himself out of a job spent some time on assistance in Illinois - and has been trying for months to get off now that he's back on his feet.
It's unfortunate that it takes a tragedy to even get us talking about the abuses in the system. It's far more unfortunate that there are undoubtedly hundreds more stories just like this all throughout the state and countless thousands more around the country. There are folks that genuinely need assistance, and while we might debate whether it is the place of the government to provide it, stories like this one cast aspersions on all folks receiving assistance. By many accounts, the Tsarnaev brothers were not in this category, and certainly not in the weeks and months leading up to the attack.
It's really a shame that it takes a tragedy like what happened at the marathon to even start a discussion on rampant fraud in the welfare system.
That is all.