A few weeks ago, America was introduced to Jason Greenslate, a 29-year old Californian who showed how easy it was for a person to beat the system and avoid working.
Showing no guilt about living off what he calls "free money," which the government calls Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Benefits, Greenslate spent his days hanging out on the beach, surfing and chasing women.
"I surf everyday. It's wonderful, man. Just get away from everything, clear your head. Get out with the boys. Have a good time," he stated in an interview with Fox News for a show titled "The Great Food Stamp Binge."
Greenslate's life is one big party. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program known as SNAP provides him with $200 a month for food, which he uses to buy gourmet items at the grocery store. For shelter he stays with family, friends and girlfriends, so he has no fixed address and housing expense.
Greenslate has no intention - or motivation - of getting a job and he sees nothing wrong with his lifestyle, partly paid for by the government giveaway.
"It's free food," he boasted. "It's awesome."
Greenslate is not alone when it comes to playing the system. According to The Associated Press, the federal government spends $668.2 billion a year on welfare, while states dole out $284 billion. Welfare has risen a whopping 32 percent in the last four years under President Obama.
Future projections are not good. Among U.S. adults, 80 percent face joblessness, near-poverty, or reliance on welfare for at least parts of their lives.
It's easy to see why so many persons are not eager to join the work force. A recent study by the Cato Institute says welfare recipients in more than 35 states currently get paid more than a minimum wage job. In fact, welfare recipients in 12 states and Washington, D.C., get paid more than $15 per hour, which is more than twice the national minimum wage.
Of the 126 separate government funded anti-poverty programs, which cost $688 billion annually, 72 provide cash or other benefits directly to poor families. Cato found that in 2013, the value of those benefits varied widely across states, from a low of $11,150. in Idaho to a whopping high of $49,175 in Hawaii. The median value of the welfare package across the 50 states is $28,500.
The report found that welfare benefits pay more than the average pre-tax first year wage for a teacher. In 39 states, they cover more than the starting wage for a secretary and in the three most generous states, welfare pays more than the wages for an entry-level computer programmer.
With these kinds of statistics, it shouldn't surprise us to see a surfer bum like Jason Greenslate milking the government for "free money." What was designed to be emergency, stop-gap assistance program has turned into Uncle Sam's endless gravy train.
By Jim Zbick