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Man Wins a $2 million lottery; Still Collecting Foodstamps Hot Conversation

http://news.yahoo.com/s/yblog_localdtw/20110518/ts_yblog_localdtw/2m-michigan-lottery-winner-defends-use-of-food-stamps

This makes my blood boil.  This attitude and sense of “eff you” by a segment of the US populace is why so many of us are revolting about entitlement programs.  Because they build a sense of entitlement with no sense of responsibility.

Posted in news, work & money.

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22 Responses

  1. watermusic watermusic says

    The problem is the state and the state laws and loop holes. OTOH, you would think that a person over a certain age would have more honor and integrity. 

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    • Dallas Lady Dallas Lady says

      I agree that the state laws are a problem in this and need to be addressed. And the lack of a law stopping his egregious behavior or choices does not absolve him of his lawful thievery. He doesn’t need or require foodstamps to eat. He is taking full advantage of the system and it srinks. Have some pride and self respect! Arrrggghhhhhh

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  2. ThurmanLady ThurmanLady says

    I saw this story yesterday and it did the same thing for my blood – and it wasn’t a hot flash!  Maybe, as he paid half of his earnings in taxes, he is actually paying for his own food stamps? ♥

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    • Dallas Lady Dallas Lady says

      Then why aren’t all of us with jobs and income who pay taxes then on foodstamps? Some people won’t earn 2 million in a lifetime. But they wilk esrn a paycheck, pay taces. And won’t collect foodstamps either,

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      • ThurmanLady ThurmanLady says

        Dare I say that if the “Food Stamp President” is re-elected, they might be? :D

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  3. aznikki aznikki says

    Actually, I believe the states have to follow federal guidelines.  That is where the change must be made.  States can request a waiver in some instances though, ie Michigan requested a waiver on giving food stamps to college students.

    The guy is a sleaze bag no doubt but the culprit is the federal government…maybe this story will help institute some changes, they are sorely needed.

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  4. ThurmanLady ThurmanLady says

    Az, this member loves your response! ♥

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  5. Dallas Lady Dallas Lady says

    I’m for blaming everyone who has a role in this. The govt guidelines that allow it. AND the sleaze bag with no pride or morals or self respect who thinks his behaviors are perfectly ok because they are legal. Legal sets the bar low…..prize and self respect raise the bar to respectability.

    Blame them both. Blaming the govt but not the sleaze bag reminds me of that old Chris Rock riff……..”you low expectation having mother (expletive deleted).”

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  6. Debi Drecksler Debi Drecksler says

    This story aggravates me, too. My husband wouldn’t even accept a reduced price on school lunches when our 4 children were little (our income qualified us) because he said there were families who needed the discount more. Enough with the handouts to folks who are taking advantage of the system!

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  7. Generic Image Stevie says

    Leroy Fick’s win after taxes came to $850,000.  According to his lawyer, Fick used his winnings to buy a home and a second-hand car.  He is 59 years old, unemployed, and was the recipient of Social Security disability benefits when Lady Luck smiled on him.  The money paid in taxes on his windfall is the equivalent of paying income tax of over $28,000 a year for a period of 40 years.  If you add to that to the income taxes he would have paid during those years that he was employed, Fick’s contributions to federal and state coffers has been significant.  Fick didn’t see a loophole and then create the conditions that would allow him to take advantage of it.  He won a modest lottery, forked over more than half of his winnings to the government, informed the state of his winnings and was advised that he was still eligible for food stamps.  I would not describe his behaviour as egregious.  His actions are, actually, perfectly rational.  He’s not trying to cheat the system.  Based on his income, he’s eligible for the assistance.  If Michigan changes its policy to make lottery winners like Fick ineligible for this benefit, he’ll stop using the Bridge Card.  Sure, he’s taking lawful advantage of the system.  And so are many, many, many others with way more money than Fick is ever going to see in his lifetime.
    Just a couple of stories that might provide a bit of balance here.  Nothing to do with lottery tickets but everything to do with creating conditions that would allow one to benefit from a loophole.  The first two are about faux farmers and can be accessed here http://jonathanturley.org/2011/04/17/wealthy-%E2%80%9Cfaux-farmers%E2%80%9D-get-huge-agricultural-tax-breaks-on-their-properties and here http://www.thenation.com/article/159943/tax-day-farms-owned-rich-provide-massive-tax-shelter
    Also of interest might be the $20-billion subsidy for investment fund managers which can be found here: http://readersupportednews.org/opinion/82-82/2030-closing-tax-loopholes-for-billionaires
    You might find David Jay Johnston’s April 2011 story on supply-side economics which can be found here: http://www.tsweekly.com/news/features/eat-the-poor-nine-things-the-rich-dont-want-you-to-know-about-our-tax-systems.html
    This Reuter’s story on tax loopholes is dated (August 2008) but still relevant: http://www.reuters.com/article/2008/08/25/us-usa-tax-loopholes-idUSN2235030820080825
    This May 2010 story by Robert Reich about the challenge of closing tax loopholes for billionaires might be of interest: http://wallstreetpit.com/29033-a-billion-dollars-would-pay-the-salaries-of-about-20000-teachers
    This February 2011 story about amnesty for offshore tax cheats might be of interest: http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/02/08/us-usa-taxes-amnesty-idUSTRE7174K920110208
     

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    • ThurmanLady ThurmanLady says

      Stevie, these are things that make me angry, too.  It is one of the reasons I favor a “fair tax” of a certain percentage with no loopholes.  I am not, however, in favor of “punishing” the rich simply for being rich.  I am in favor of everyone paying their fair share of taxes for those things that I consider Constitutional.  I am wholeheartedly against redistributing the “wealth” which, IMO, only serves to make people dependent.
       
      After buying a home and a second hand car – both of which I consider to be a good idea – it seems to me that there should be another way for him to pay his grocery bill.  Those who get food stamps should get it because they have no other way to put food on the table.  I can see the taxpayers paying for that; not for someone who has a pile of money in the bank.  By your reasoning, with his “yearly” income, I should have been getting food stamps most of my working life. ♥

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      • Generic Image Stevie says

        My reasoning does not suggest that at all.  I’m simply saying that the loophole was there and Mr. Fisk took advantage of it.  I am also saying that when one has to create conditions in order to benefit from an existing loophole, they’re cheating the system.  Mr. Fisk did not create the conditions; he simply bought a lottery ticket and got lucky.  The faux farmers referenced in the top two stories I provided created the conditions that made the loophole available to them and they created those conditions not for the purpose of being engaged in agriculture but for the express purpose of reducing their tax burden.  To suggest that because Mr. Fisk now has money, he should not be able to avail himself of benefits that the state says he is entitled is to suggest that the law is irrelevant.  If we don’t like the law, then the onus is on us to lobby to have it changed.  Like it or not, Mr. Fisk has not done anything wrong.
        There was nothing in my comment to suggest the rich should be punished for being rich.  I was actually just trying to give context to the story provided because it wasn’t a balanced story, in my opinion.  In my book, the rich people referenced in those stories are nothing more than wealthy welfare bums.  They have the ability to pay their fair share of taxes – as you and I are expected to do – and yet find every way possible to screw the system.  These are not honourable men and women.  And I’ll stop there.      

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    • aznikki aznikki says

      Great post Stevie.  People are up in arms about a man winning the lottery and getting food stamps, taking advantage of a loophole but choose to ignore billionaires doing the same thing on a much bigger scale… why aren’t we outraged at the Senate turning down proposals to close those loopholes?

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      • Generic Image Stevie says

        Thanks, aznikki.  I don’t know why people are up in arms about Fick but I do know that there is a mindset out there that doesn’t want the poor to own anything.  If you look at some of the online comments about this story, people are upset not only because this new mini-millionaire is collecting food stamps but also because he purchased the winning lottery ticket with government assistance (Social Security disability benefits).  Oh, yeah, and Fick forfeits the right to complain about the government taxing his lottery winnings at 57.5 per cent because the lottery ticket was bought with taxpayers’ money. 
         
        This idea that people who receive government assistance should not be allowed to buy lottery tickets is nothing new.  In 2008, radio talk show host Ryan Doyel said that a single mother of four who was in receipt of a disability pension when she purchased and subsequently won a lottery should not have been buying lottery tickets while receiving taxpayer assistance and should have to pay back the pension money she had been getting for the past nine years.  Doyel’s opinion is not unique.
         
        In 2009, a proposed bill that would put a $600 cap on lottery winnings for people on state or federal assistance was under consideration by the State of Tennessee.  Said Rep. Stacy Campfield at the time, “If you can’t afford the bare necessities of life, you shouldn’t be taking what money you do have and blowing it on the lottery.”  The bill would prohibit issuance of lottery prizes of $600 or more to any person who receives state or federal economic or medical assistance due to indigency.  Tennessee’s lottery slogan at the time was “Just imagine!”  Unless you’re needy.  We’re talking, what, a two-dollar expenditure here?  I don’t know what happened to the bill but the mere fact that such a punitive piece of legislation was even suggested is disturbing.
         
        The idea that poor people are somehow responsible for their own poverty is nothing new either.  I don’t imagine the U.S. is much different from Canada when it comes to general views on the root cause of poverty.  A relatively recent (March 2011) Salvation Army survey which explored attitudes on poverty in Canada suggests many people believe the poor are part of the problem and their decisions led them to poverty.  If you’re interested the Dignity Project report, you can find the story here:  http://www.vancouversun.com/business/Many+Canadians+feel+poor+responsible+their+condition+survey+finds/4364513/story.html#ixzz1JbsQvkfs  Government attitudes on poverty can be found in a 2009 report by the Metcalf Foundation which speaks to our relentless social policy journey toward destitution for the poorest of the poor.  The report can be accessed here:  http://www.metcalffoundation.com/downloads/Why_don't_we_want_the_poor_to_own_anything.pdf
         
        I know my response is off-topic but people like Fick, older guys living on a limited income, are the more frequent lottery players.  With slogans like “Imagine what a buck can do,” or “Your ticket to dream,” or “Somebody’s gotta win, might as well be you,” it’s no wonder that Americans spend roughly $60 billion in lottery tickets and it’s no wonder that state governments actively encourage their citizens to do so – the same governments that would put a cap on winnings for the gambling poor and the same governments that would rather slash social spending than close loopholes to the rich.  And the feds are no different.  Over the last half-century, the richest Americans have shifted the burden of the federal individual income tax off themselves and on to everybody else.  You can find that story here:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2011/mar/01/us-taxation-public-finance
         
        As I said in a reply to ThurmanLady below, my understanding of financial matters is very limited.   But I know greed when I see it and, in my opinion, Fick doesn’t qualify for that label.  After taxes, and after the purchase of a home (which I guesstimate as being somewhere around $100,000, maybe more) and the purchase of a second-hand car (which might have cost somewhere around $18,000), Fick’s $2-million win is down to $732,000 which is a good chunk of change but not much more than that.  I don’t know what the Food Stamp Millionaire (or wannabe) is costing the American public but whatever it is, the amount pales into insignificance when compared to the cost of allowing America’s wealthy take a pass on paying their fair share of taxes.    

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  8. Debi Drecksler Debi Drecksler says

    Stevie…Thanks for sharing all this information. This is why I LOVE this site! I learn SO much from all of you!

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    • Generic Image Stevie says

         Hi, Debi.  I’m glad you found something of value in the information provided.         

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  9. ThurmanLady ThurmanLady says

    Stevie, you didn’t suggest that the wealthy be “punished.”  A couple of your links, did.
     
    Obviously loopholes need to be closed; this story may help that.  When I’ve needed “help” the second question has always been how much money I have in my savings and/or checking account.  I doubt that having a couple hundred thousand would have qualified me, and that’s in New York.
     
    I totally agree with you on the “welfare bums.”  There are the rich who complain about needing to be taxed more (Warren Buffet and Bill Gates come to mind) and who actually do a lot to find all the shelters they can.  Then there are those who get government subsidies who certainly don’t need them – as you’ve pointed out.
     
    The bottom line here, for me, is that tax money goes to buy this man his groceries while he has a lot more money than most of us.  Fair tax, anyone? ♥

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    • aznikki aznikki says

      TL for me the bottom line is that there is such corruption in the government, and there has been for decades, that loopholes like these exist and should not.  Why not get totally outraged at those billionaires who are milking the system?  This is but one sleaze bag, he won’t cost us a 500th of a percent that those other guys do but yet we concentrate on him.  I don’t get it. 

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      • ThurmanLady ThurmanLady says

        Az, I totally agree about the corruption in government – lots of decades and it certainly hasn’t slowed down – not when GE pays zero in taxes.  I get outraged at the government, not at those who do what they do legally.  Same with this man; I don’t like it, it rather p!sses me off, but he’s not doing anything that the government doesn’t allow.  That doesn’t make it right, any more than government giving out ag subsidies to those who certainly don’t need it (take a look at this!) – like David Rockefeller?  Sheesh.
         
        Actually, you didn’t say anything I disagree with.  He may not be costing much, and it may be “legal,” but it’s still wrong.  It’s about time something got done about it, too. ♥

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    • Generic Image Stevie says

      ThurmanLady, I re-read the links provided in my original response and I found no reference to punishing the rich simply for being rich.  The last of the seven stories provided is about a new amnesty program with reduced penalties for wealthy tax evaders with assets stashed offshore who come clean with U.S. authorities.  These people are not being targeted because they’re rich; they’re being targeted because they’re tax evaders.   If there is a suggestion in any of those stories that the wealthy be punished, I’d like to see it.

      Just so you know, my reference to subsidies was with respect to a tax loophole that allows hedge-fund and private equity managers to treat their earnings as capital gains and thereby pay a rate of 15 per cent instead of the 35 per cent applied to ordinary income.  I trust you’re not suggesting that there are similarities between Fisk’s food-stamp entitlement and the subsidy afforded hedge-fund managers whose average incomes last year were $5 million for managers at large, top-performing firms and $1.23 million for managers at smaller firms.  Those at the top of the heap earn billions.  My understanding of financial matters is very, very, very limited so I stand to be corrected on the information provided here.

      The bottom line here for me is the fact that Fisk has a lot more money than most of us should have no bearing whatsoever on whether or not he is entitled to those food stamps. 

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  10. ThurmanLady ThurmanLady says

    It may not have been said directly, but in speaking of tax rates.  However, if there are so many loopholes, tax rates won’t matter.  It’s not going to do any good to raise those rates to some ridiculous high only to have all those loopholes.  The “rich” – as defined by our current administration – is supposedly any couple making over $250,000.  Raising the rates on these kinds of people will hurt them; not the really rich who can actually afford to hide and hedge their money.  To my mind, the only way to take care of this mess is to do a flat or fair tax, percentage-wise, and get rid of loopholes.  A tax code of over 71,000 pages is absurd.
     
    While food stamps may be based on “income” and this man doesn’t have one, I still can’t see how it works.  I just looked up my state of NY and it says:


    In New York State, the Food Stamp Program now allows you to have more money in a checking or savings account, or even a retirement account or college savings account, without affecting your eligibility for food stamp benefits. Most households applying for food stamp benefits no longer have to pass a savings/resource test in order to get food stamp benefits. This means that the household’s assets (stocks, savings and retirement accounts, etc.) are not considered when determining eligibility. Please note that if you apply for food stamp benefits, you may still be asked to provide information regarding such resources.
     
    It doesn’t say how much you can have.  Somehow I wouldn’t think hundreds of thousands should allow him to qualify.  I could understand if it was something like a 401k and he couldn’t touch it without penalties, but not just having money stashed somewhere.  All I can say is that it should have a bearing on his qualification. ♥

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    • Generic Image Stevie says

      I don’t really have anything to add at this moment in time, ThurmanLady, but thanks for the interesting exchange.

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