Welfare Lottery Ban Proposals Includes Alcohol, Tobacco, And Porn

Welfare Lottery Ban Proposals Includes Alcohol, Tobacco, And Porn

COMMENTARY | The proposed welfare lottery ban in North Carolina has sparked a controversy all over the Internet. As previously reported by The Inquisitr, the proposed welfare lottery ban would keep welfare recipients and people in bankruptcy from playing the lottery. But other states are trying to limit what types of things welfare recipients can purchase with their EBT cards.

According to CreditCards.com, state Representative Shaunna O’Connell of Massachusetts is a leader of that state’s effort to reduce EBT-related scams:

“The fraud and abuse is obscene. Taxpayers are willing to help people who are in need. With people getting into the system fraudulently, money is not being used for its intended purpose.”

Lawmakers contend that about $30 billion in cash assistance was distributed to 4.4 million people by the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program in fiscal 2011 and they estimate that several billion dollars every year is diverted to a variety of illicit purposes. The going rate for exchanging cash for food is 50 cents on the dollar. This government money is then used to go to strip clubs, casinos, and purchase items like tobacco, alcohol, and tattoos. But one major difference is that these other states are cracking down on the gambling done in privately owned casinos, but not necessarily lotteries run by the states. So what makes the North Carolina welfare lottery ban so different?

There seems to be two sides to the welfare lottery ban debate. One side says the government should not be overly intrusive by investigating a person’s financial well-being and the welfare lottery van is another example of how America hates the poor. Of course, one issue with that statement is that, in order to receive food stamps in the first place, individuals must truthfully disclose their current financial condition in total. Otherwise, those people are committing fraud and thus any argument over privacy is rendered moot.

The other side of the debate points out that food stamps and lottery tickets are privileges in this country, not rights. Food stamps are given under the assumption that an individual is so destitute that they have no other option in order to survive. In effect, any frivolous spending is being subsidized by other taxpayers. A problem with this argument is that it assumes the right to discretionary spending is waived when one is receiving welfare.

The argument over discretionary spending gets more complicated when the welfare lottery ban is compared to the current ban against those on food stamps using their publicly provided money to purchase alcohol, cigarettes, and porn. So this comparison could be used as justification for how the welfare lottery ban promotes the public good. Yet, at the same time,I would find this slightly hypocritical since the alcohol, cigarettes, and porn ban was enacted because these items are considered “bad” by the government. Yet, in the case of the lottery, the government itself is providing the gambling opportunity.

One might also ask, if the welfare lottery ban is enacted, where does it end? Should welfare recipients be banned from all forms of gambling? Should they be banned from purchasing other items considered frivolous or unnecessary for their survival? What about government public servants whose income relies on taxpayers…should their daily lives also be micromanaged? Where does the government intrusion into our lives end?

Still, despite these qualms, I do not doubt that the intentions by lawmakers were well-meaning. The lottery is often called a tax on the poor for a reason. As previously reported by The Inquisitr, states involved in the Powerball lottery have been changing the rules in order to generate more sales. Lottery tickets tend to be bought by people who are poor and/or jobless. As a result, the Powerball lottery really tends to act more like a voluntary tax than a game.

There needs to be some sort of grace when considering this issue. After all, it’s said “there will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land.” But this statement is also balanced by the fact that we’re not called to subsidize the laziness of others, who should be attempting to work to feed themselves if capable.

So far, the best middle ground solution I’ve seen is the idea that if a welfare recipient wins the lottery they would be required to refund the government for any monies received during that time frame based upon the assumption that the government subsidized the lottery winner’s ability to purchase the tickets in the first place. What do you think about the welfare lottery ban proposal in North Carolina?

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