• Kansas Bans Poor People from Spending Welfare on Cruise Ships

    October 3, 2015 // 17 Comments »

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    There is a myth that welfare is a good deal, money for nothing.

    Maybe to some it works that way, but in Kansas a family of three gets a maximum of $429 a money in cash, about $35 bucks a person a week. I don’t know, I guess that is one way to live, but not a way too many people want to live.

    But if you are one of the people who thinks that is still too generous, boy has Kansas got some new laws for you.


    Haters Gonna Hate Once Elected

    Kansas welfare recipients will be unable to withdraw more than $25 per day in benefits under a new law sent this week to Governor Sam Brownback by the state legislature. Like most states, Kansas distributes benefits via a debit card.

    The bill also prohibits welfare recipients from spending their benefits at certain types of businesses, including liquor stores, fortune tellers, swimming pools and cruise ships.

    “We’re trying to make sure those benefits are used the way they were intended,” one state representative said. “This is about prosperity. This is about having a great life.”

    Under the new rule, a family receiving the maximum benefit would have to go to the ATM more than a dozen times to get the full benefit, which would be whittled away by an 85 cent fee for each withdrawal after the first one. And since many recipients do not have bank accounts, they will pay an ATM fee on top of that for each withdrawal. If you figure $3 (+.85) a transaction, times 12 pulls, that’s about $46 a month, a de facto reduction of benefits of more than ten percent for no real reason whatsoever.

    The federal welfare reform law of 1996 gave states significant leeway to design their own programs. Missouri, for example, is considering a bill to forbid food stamps from being spent on steak or seafood. No more cheap fish heads for you! But even welfare advocates were taken aback by the $25 daily limit in Kansas, something that has not been implemented in any other state.

    “This provision makes it nearly impossible for a recipient who does not have a checking account to pay rent,” said Liz Schott of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. The Kansas provision originally would have limited daily benefits to $60, but that was reduced through an amendment.


    The Questions

    We’re left with some questions.

    I’m pretty sure no one thinks it would be right for welfare recipients to spend benefits designed to feed hungry people at liquor stores, fortune tellers, swimming pools or cruise ships. One wonders, however, at the codification of that into law. Do the Kansas benefit cards even know they are in an ATM on the Love Boat versus one at the grocery store? Is there in fact even one case of a welfare receipt spending his money on a cruise? At a maximum of $429 a month, it seems hard to save up the thousands of dollars cruises cost, especially given the airfare from Kansas to the nearest ocean. And since you can withdraw cash and then spend it on booze or fortune telling if you really want to, isn’t the whole thing pointless?

    The $25 daily limit is also a bit unclear. That amount of money doesn’t get you very far at the grocery store, so it translates into little more than multiple trips each week plus the costs of ATM fees. That alone is at variance with trying to find or work a job, and child care. It does not seem to benefit anyone.

    So what is the point? Well, politics for sure. Nothing says Republican in Kansas apparently like being needlessly mean to poor people. A lot of votes in that hater demographic. Right along side that is the idea that poor people deserve to suffer somehow.

    So, Kansas, why not go for it? Why not just have welfare recipients publicly have to beg for money? Maybe something on TV, like American Idol, where the best beggar as voted on by the home audience gets an extra jar of peanut butter, or, as a special reward, a quick trip to the fortune teller?

    “The magic cards tell me your future looks… very bleak…”



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    Copyright © 2019. All rights reserved. The views expressed here are solely those of the author(s) in their private capacity.

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    What Happens When Innocence is No Longer a Defense? SWAT Happens

    November 1, 2014 // 14 Comments »

    It all started when dad, planning to help his son with a science fair project, bought a few items at a hydroponics store. The next suspicious act was that his wife liked tea. The result: A SWAT team kicked down their door and held them and their two children for hours while ransacking their home. SWAT left, nothing was found or seized, and it cost the family over $25,000 just to learn why this ever happened. They were presumed very guilty. Welcome to our police state, were even being innocent of a crime is no defense.

    Legal Purchase = Criminal Suspicion

    Eight months before the raid, a Missouri State Trooper watched Bob Hartes make a few purchases in a hydroponics store. Though the store is legal, and many people use its products for legal purposes to grow houseplants or start seedlings indoors, the products can also be used to grow marijuana (or any other plant.) Bob Hartes, in fact, planned on growing tomatoes and squash with his son. The trooper recorded Hartes’ license plate and vehicle information as suspicious.

    Seven months after that (the reason is unknown), the information was sent to Kansas law enforcement, who ran the plate number and identified Hartes address. He was immediately tagged as suspected drug grower, and an investigation kicked off.



    Wet, Discarded Marijuana?

    Investigators first visited the Harte’s home surreptitiously one morning at 5 am, going through the trash and finding wet plant material. Despite there being no real reason why someone involved in the drug business would throw wet weed out in the garbage, police believed it was evidence of a crime. They thus returned to the scene, and, finding more wet plant material, allegedly performed a field test which indicated the substance was marijuana. The cops made a third visit, found more wet plant material, which again supposedly tested positive.

    Field tests can be unreliable; in experiments using the cop-popular NarcoPouch KN Reagent kit, 33 of 42 substances, including vanilla, anise, chicory, and peppermint, tested positive for cannabis. In Kansas the cops never sent any of the samples to the crime lab for formal confirmation. Instead, plans were made and the SWAT-led raid was executed. No drugs were found in the house, of course, because there never were drugs in the house. The police were uninterested in being told about the science fair project and brewing tea with loose leaves. The cops simply departed, after tearing apart the Hartes’ home and terrorizing them and their children. No apologies, apparently as far as the police were concerned, were necessary.



    Aftermath

    The Hartes found themselves ostracized by their neighbors as “criminals,” and took to showing around the search warrant stating “nothing removed from the house” to try and convince them of their innocence. When those attempts failed, the family sought the police records behind the unnecessary search.

    It was only in response to the Hartes inquiries that the police sent the first samples of the wet plant material gathered from the Hartes’ trash to the lab for a formal test. Results: it was tea, not marijuana, just as the innocent family had maintained from the beginning.

    The problem was that Kansas law enforcement, likely to hide their own mistakes, refused to release the lab results– evidence of their innocence– to the Hartes. The family was forced to sue the police, at a personal cost of $25,000, to finally gain access to what had erroneously sent SWAT crashing through their door one morning.

    “This not what justice in the United States is supposed to be. You shouldn’t have to have $25,000, even $5,000. You shouldn’t have to have that kind of money to find out why people came raiding your house like some sort of police state,” Harte said.



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    Copyright © 2019. All rights reserved. The views expressed here are solely those of the author(s) in their private capacity.

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    Posted in #99Percent, Economy