Try to imagine this happening at a private charity.
A homeless man, James Brady, discovered 850 dollars lost on the sidewalk. Rather than pocketing the money he took it to the police and told them that he found it on the street. They took it from him and waited for someone to claim the amount. No one did.
After six months had passed the police got in touch with the Brady and told him that the money was now his to keep.
This story made the papers. Brady didn’t try to keep his one-time income a secret.
But he forgot to officially report it to the Hackensack Human Services Department. Or he never realized he was obligated to so. Or he didn’t realize he could be accused of keeping a secret that he had permitted to be reported in all the local newspapers. For whatever reason, he got slapped down:
Brady was denied General Assistance and Medicaid benefits by the Hackensack Human Services Department through Dec. 31 because he failed to report new income he received…
The good deed turned Brady, who was homeless at the time he found the money, into a minor celebrity. He was featured in news reports across the country and honored by the Hackensack City Council. Now, he said, he’s being treated like a crook.
“This is stupid,” Brady said. “I had already proven my honesty by turning in the $850. They were treating me like I was a dishonest individual, like I was trying to cheat them out of the money.”
Agatha Toomey, director of Human Services, said she was just following rules when she denied the benefits. The rules, she said, require any lump sum payment to be reported as income.
“I’m sorry but we had to — I had to — follow regulations,” she said. “He only pays five dollars [a month] in rent.”
Notice that no one claims that his windfall of $850 was so much that he no longer qualified for benefits. He was simply being punished for failing to report it.
Toomey’s excuse was that she is just following regulations. Since we have just had our healthcare system put under government control, think of what is going to happen as people forget to fill in some blank and expect their health care provider to be reasonable.
People talk about the welfare state as if it was compassionate. Is cutting off Brady compassionate? Can anyone hear Toomey whine about how she “had to follow regulations,” and imagine that she got her job because she is so compassionate?
The welfare state is a jobs program for people like Toomey. People like Brady are just fodder for the system so that politicians can provide jobs for all the Toomeys and expect votes from them. Brady is to the Hackenstack Human Services Department what Mars is to NASA—a justification for public funding.
There are people who care about Brady, but that has nothing to do with his “General Assistance and Medicaid benefits.” The welfare state does not care about his well being.
He’s not the client; he’s the product. It is a lesson we will all soon learn under Obamacare.