Monday, December 24, 2012

$$$$$ Prostitution for the Price of a Happy Meal $$$$$

The American Prospect

Why food-stamp bans are perpetuating risky behaviors among America’s most vulnerable.

Carla walked into my office with despair in her eyes. I was surprised. Carla has been doing well in her four months out of prison; she got off drugs, regained custody of her kids, and even enrolled in a local community college.  Without much prodding she admitted to me that she had retuned to prostitution: “I am putting myself at risk for HIV to get my kids a f---ing happy meal.”
Despite looking high and low for a job, Carla explained, she was still unemployed. Most entry-level jobs felt out of reach with her drug record, but what’s worse, even the state wasn’t willing to throw her a temporary life preserver.
You see, Carla is from one of the 32 states in the country that ban anyone convicted of a drug felony from collecting food stamps. With the release of the Global Burden of Disease Study last week, it bears looking at how we are perpetuating burdens among the most vulnerable Americans with our outdated laws.
If she’d committed rape or murder, Carla could have gotten assistance to feed herself and her children, but because the crime she committed was a drug felony, Carla joined the hundreds of thousands of drug felons who are not eligible.
The 1996 passage of the Welfare Reform Act was supposedly implemented to prevent drug addicts from selling their food stamps for drugs. But that concern is virtually unwarranted today. Unlike old food-stamp coupons, today’s food stamps are distributed electronically, which makes selling or trading them quite difficult.
Nonetheless, the law persists.  According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, nine states have a lifetime ban for food-stamp eligibly for people convicted of drug felonies.  Twenty-three states have a partial ban, such as permitting eligibility for persons convicted of drug possession but not sale, or for persons enrolled in drug treatment programs.
Denying food stamp benefits to people convicted of drug offenses is an excessive and ineffective crime control strategy. The policy increases an individual’s risk of returning to prison by making it more difficult for people to survive after they get out, slowing or possibly even preventing their reintegration into society. People without the financial cushion necessary to get through the initial period of job searching and re-establishing a life have little choice but to turn to illegal means to make ends meet.
What’s more, the food-stamp ban is a law that works against good public health policy. As a doctor who cares predominantly for people who are released from prison, I see the damaging consequences of this ban on food stamps. I have seen patients of mine with diabetes go without food and end up hospitalized with low blood sugar, and still others with HIV skip their antiretrovirals because they don’t have food to take with their pills.  Not having access to food is associated with bad health outcomes including worsening diabetes, HIV, depression. Young children face anemia, diabetes, and depression.
Women with children are especially affected. It’s estimated that 70,000 women and their children are banned from obtaining food stamps. This means mothers who are simply trying to feed themselves and their children, and who are trying to get back on their feet after serving their time, are banned from receiving the money to pay for the basics necessary to survive.  Meanwhile, 46 million others, including college graduates and PhDs with far more resources, can receive food aid.
No other criminal conviction results in such a ban—not arson, not rape, not even murder.
Carla was arrested at 20 for selling marijuana.  At the time, she had also been making money working for her “boyfriend” as a sex worker.  Her boyfriend was also arrested for robbery.  He could qualify for food stamps upon release. But not Carla. She continues to pay for selling marijuana— a drug which two states have now voted to legalize outright—and the price is health risks for herself and for her children. 
It is time we end the food-stamp ban in all 32 states where this injustice persists and resurrect Representatives Rosa DeLauro and Barbara Lee’s Food Assistance to Improve Reintegration bill. Punishing people by denying access to food is not only terrible policy; it threatens overall public health. It does nothing to fight addiction or drug use, nor does it end up saving taxpayers money.
And beyond all that, at just 23, Carla deserves a second chance, and her KIDS DESERVE A FIRST CHANCE!

Just how lucrative JP Morgan’s EBT state contracts are is hard to say, because total national data on EBT contracts are not reported. But thanks to a combination of public-records requests and contracts that are available online, here’s what we do know: 18 of the 24 states JP Morgan handles have been contracted to pay the bank up to $560,492,596.02 since 2004. Since 2007, Florida has been contracted to pay JP Morgan $90,351,202.22. Pennsylvania’s seven-year contract totaled $112,541,823.27. New York’s seven-year contract totaled $126,394,917.
 These contracts are transactional contracts, meaning they are amendable based on changes in program participation. Each month, the three companies that administer EBT receive a small fee that can range from $.31 to $2.30 (or higher depending upon the number of welfare services on an EBT card and state contractual requirements) for each SNAP recipient.
 EBT processors charge for other services as well. For example, any time TANF recipients withdraw their cash benefits or make balance inquiries through out-of-network ATM machines, the user may incur ATM transaction fees generally ranging from $.75 to $1.50. In addition, most states allow EBT processors to charge card replacement fees. Arizona cardholders, for example, are permitted one free replacement a year, after which a $5 per card fee is imposed. The same goes for customer service calls: After an EBT cardholder exceeds the state’s maximum number of free calls, EBT processors typically tack on a $.25 per call fee.  (Ka-Ching)
 Prior to the 2002 EBT implementation mandate, JP Morgan’s political donations to members of the House and Senate agriculture committees were modest. But since 2002, they’ve been on a steady climb upward, rising from $82,302 to $332,930 in just the span of eight years. Adding to the unseemliness is the fact that three senators and six representatives who are agriculture committee members had, as of 2010, investments in JP Morgan; one senator, meanwhile, had money invested in Xerox. And in March 2012, the White House disclosed that President Obama has money in a JPMorgan Chase private client asset management checking account.

AK,  AZ,  CO,  CT,  DE,  FL,  GA,  GU,  HI,  ID,  IN,  KY,  NE,  NV,  NH,  NM,  NY,  PA,  RI,  SC,  UT,  VT,  VI,  WA,  WV,  WY 
How a Lie Becomes a Law
It required a concerted effort to get to the point where drug-testing bills have been introduced in two-thirds of the states in the past two years. The bills have moved quietly through networks of state policymakers affiliated with the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, and through right wing think tanks. The stories behind both Georgia and Florida’s recent bills are instructive.
Legislative Truthiness 
A couple of months after his trip to ALEC’s Arizona meeting, Bragdon went to Georgia to speak to a House committee at the invitation of Rep. Spencer. He launched into a presentation on his research.
According to people present at the hearing in Georgia, Bragdon spent no time talking about the fact that the Florida bill had four months earlier been blocked by a federal judge, in a suit brought by the ACLU. Nor did Bragdon mention that the judge who blocked the law mocked his research, stating that “the data… is not competent expert opinion, nor is it offered as such, nor could it be reasonably construed as such.” 
In an interview with, Bragdon called the judge “pro-addict.”

 So conservative state lawmakers are moving forward with their attempts to cement the link between drug use and poverty. And though many of the most expansive bills are likely to fail in court—the Atlanta-based Southern Center for Human Rights has already said they’ll file suit against Georgia—the point may ultimately not be about winning the right to drug test poor and unemployed people. Rather, the goal is to convince Americans that the poor and unemployed don’t really need help, that their circumstances are of their own making.

(its obvious Obama won't lift a finger for the poor BUT WILL give a hand up to multinationals an financial fiends)


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