Barry Saunders

Protecting us from hordes of food stamp-using lottery winners – Saunders

They walk among us, and only light-saber-wielding public servants such as Bert Jones can save us from them.

From what, zombies looking to feast on human brains and flesh?

No, from an even bigger threat – lottery winners looking to feast on vittles they bought with food stamps.

Didn’t know they pose a threat to our existence?

Of course not: That’s how they get ya.

That’s also why we need people such as Jones, known by some – OK just by me – as “Make ’em hurt Bert.” The Reidsville Republican legislator, a former dentist, is a food-stamp-fraud fighter, fearlessly confronting the advancing horde of people living the high life while collecting public assistance through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

Never afraid to take on the serious issues facing North Carolina, Jones has made it his raison d’etre to deter food stamp recipients and their average $126 per month worth of food stamps from their goal of destroying the republic by neglecting to report their winnings to the authorities.

You’ve no doubt seen ’em, pulling up to the Piggly Wiggly in a chauffeur-driven Trans Am or blinged-out Escalade, and driving off with lobster, cracklings, filet mignon and – Egads! – name-brand cereal they’ve purchased with their SNAP card. (Those dreaded, instantly identifiable coupons are no longer used.)

Jones’ bill, House Bill 1047, is going to put a stop to that. It would require the state Lottery Commission to report winnings of more than $2,250 to the state Department of Health and Human Services every month so it can cross-check for food stamp recipients and applicants. (It’s dangerous to interrupt a fearless fraud fighter when he starts slinging his saber, so don’t tell Jones that food stamp recipients already have to report any changes in their income, and those changes will be used to compute their eligibility. Of course, we can’t trust poor people to tell the truth, now, can we?)

It’s dangerous to interrupt a fearless fraud fighter when he starts slinging his saber, so don’t tell Bert Jones that food stamp recipients already have to report any changes in their income, and those changes will be used to compute their eligibility.

Yes, we can, Van Denton, a spokesman for the Lottery Commission, said.

He noted that once anyone wins a lottery prize of more than $600, “that’s when we start collecting withholdings for your taxes and check to see if you owe state or local governments. ... If you win $50 and collect it from the store, then it’s up to you, Barry Saunders – being the honest, good fellow that you are – to report it as income.”

Denton said “most people are relieved” to have taxes and prior government debts taken out automatically, “because they may not have known they had this debt or didn’t know how to pay it.”

Uh-oh. That kind of disputes the narrative pushed by Jones and others who demonize people on public aid as government-teat-sucking parasites out to game the system.

“Folks who win the lottery,” Denton said, “come from all walks of life. Some people who are unemployed win. We have bankers who win, probably newspaper reporters who win. Winners who come in are from all different circumstances, from low income to rich.”

How come, then, Jones, who could not be reached Wednesday, is only concerned about ensuring that poor people report their winnings?

“It diverts money from the truly needy,” he said in an N&O story last week.

Bull, Bert.

The USDA Agricultural Act of 2014 already has a provision that states “any household in which a member receives substantial gambling or lottery winnings (as determined by USDA) will immediately lose eligibility for SNAP benefits until they again meet normal income and resource standards.”

That act also has a provision prohibiting recipients from redeeming bottles or cans for cash. Yes, that’s precisely what it means: If you buy a bottle of milk or soda, you can’t go back and get the nickel if you receive SNAP.

Jones, a Sunday school teacher, exhibited his concern for the “truly needy” when he voted against expanding Medicaid and when he noted in a political summary in January that, “We must replace the destructive attitude of entitlement, and return to the goodness of charity, for both moral and economic reasons.”

This is merely the latest volley of vindictiveness fired in the endless war on people who may need temporary help from the government.

Verily I say unto you. Yea, Jesus loves ye, but if ye get sick, ye’re on your own, hoss.

This is merely the latest volley of vindictiveness fired in the endless war on people who may need temporary help from the government. Some states have enacted measures limiting what food stamp recipients can buy, because – of course – if you’re in a bad way you don’t deserve to eat what regular people eat.

Let us count the days until some dedicated public servant – only looking out for our best interests – proposes a bill permitting the state to randomly check the fooderators and pantries of poor people to make sure they aren’t buying food deemed above their station.

Carnation? Couldn’t you find some store-brand evaporated canned milk?

In a candidates’ interview with the News & Record in 2014, Jones was asked if he saw a need for firearms reform.

Of course not. “Gun rights are crucial to freedom,” he said. “Common sense and examples of history (including Nazi Germany, communist China, Russia and many others) teach us – when guns are outlawed, only outlaws and ruthless governments have guns.”

His new philosophy appears to be “When food stamps are outlawed – only people who can afford to eat will have food.”

Ugh.

Not a single living soul who pays taxes wants her or his money wasted, and we should applaud public servants who see it as their mission to be responsible stewards of our funds. But dammit, that doesn’t mean we want them to declare war on our struggling brethren or sisteren.

While appreciating legislators who root out waste and make government more efficient, we should appreciate even more lawmakers who legislate by the words of the dulcet-toned diva/philosopher Jackie DeShannon:

Think of your fellow man.

Lend him a helping hand.

Put a little love in your heart.

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