If you have the misfortune to be exposed to significant amounts of conservative media, you probably are aware of the imaginary crisis of welfare fraud that is afflicting our nation. Lazy moochers are leeching the government dry, and that’s why we should just abolish all those programs and leave millions without a social safety net because of a few conniving grifters and scam artists! Remember when Reagan warned us all about the black welfare queens who are having babies out-of-wedlock just to cheat you out of your tax dollars? “In Chicago, they found a woman who holds the record!” announced old Gipper in 1976. “She used 80 names, 30 addresses, 15 telephone numbers to collect food stamps, Social Security, veterans’ benefits for four nonexistent deceased veteran husbands, as well as welfare. Her tax-free cash income alone has been running $150,000 a year.” Fetch the fainting couch! These people drove themselves into such egregious poverty so that they qualify for government assistance just to steal your money!
All sarcasm aside, this is yet another entirely fabricated crisis that conservatives use to terrify their voting base into supporting their twisted agendas – like how Planned Parenthood is “harvesting babies” or that there are legions of liberals conspiring to destroy our democracy with “voter fraud.” That “welfare queen” with the fake husbands never existed. The food stamp system only sees around 1.3% fraud. When fraud does happen, it’s usually by those forming elaborate programs to scam the system by those who don’t need it – like the new faces of welfare fraud in America today, who are white and fundamentalist Mormons.
Eleven members of Warren Jeffs’ Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints were arrested along the Utah/Colorado border for using a church-owned convenience stores and using their members’ SNAP (Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program) benefits to either purchase food which was then donated back to the church or ran the cards without purchasing anything, which then “allowed the Jeffs to draw tens of thousands of dollars from SNAP, which prosecutors say they laundered through other companies owned by their church.” The food donation to the church wasn’t just out of “charity” – as a member of the “United Order,” they were obligated to give all of their material possessions to the Church leaders as a sign of their devotion – scamming not only the government but cruelly exploiting their own followers.
Church leader Warren Jeffs is currently serving a life sentence in prison for raping two of his “wives,” who were 12 and 15 when they were coerced into “marriage.” The rest of his family will be joining him for up to 25 years for their role in the extensive welfare fraud. So take a good look, America. These are your “welfare queens” – white men who use a perverted interpretation of a respectable religion to abuse children and government social safety net programs. Not the 45 million other people who feed their families with SNAP benefits because they have seen their wages stagnate over decades from Republican obstructionism and corporate greed.
Colin Taylor is the editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.