During a United Nations General Assembly summit on non-communicable diseases — a discussion that included diet and eating habits — New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said “governments at all levels must make healthy solutions the default social option.”
Bloomberg is a fascist, but we’ve known that for years. He also might be wrong about the certainty of his targets.
Many people concede that we should at least not allow people on food stamps to buy sugary drinks. But, anyone who knows about the food stamp program today, would say that is moot.
• Troy Hutson, the chief of Washington state’s food-stamp program, resigned in April after a Seattle television station revealed that some food-stamp recipients were selling their cards on Craigslist or brazenly cashing them out on street corners (for 50 cents on the dollar) and using the proceeds for illegal drugs and prostitution. Washington state Sen. Mike Carrell complained: “Dozens of workers at DSHS [the Department of Social and Health Services] have reported numerous unpunished cases of fraud to me. They have told me that DSHS management has allowed these things to happen, and in some cases actively restricted fraud investigations.”
• Thirty percent of the inmates in the Polk County, Iowa, jail were collecting food stamps that were being sent to their non-jail mailing addresses in 2009. But Iowa could not prosecute them for fraud because the state’s food-stamp form failed to ask applicants whether they were heading for the slammer. Roger Munns, a spokesman for the Iowa Department of Human Services, told the Des Moines Register last year that asking such questions could make food-stamp applications “unwieldy.” (Many states do make such inquiries.)
Looser federal rules are spurring a bureaucratic crime wave. Last December, two veteran employees for New York City’s Human Resources Administration were busted for concocting 1,500 fake food-stamp cases that netted them $8 million. Nine Milwaukee, Wis., staffers plundered almost $300,000 from the program during the last five years, and a Louisiana state bureaucrat pleaded guilty last year for her role in a scam that snared more than $50,000 in fraudulent food-stamp benefits.
Mayor Bloomberg seems to have a bit more on his plate than he can chew, but I suppose banning soda and salty pretzels is a lot easier than, say, implementing a way of means testing.