Thursday, March 8, 2012

Lottery Winners Still Deserve Welfare?

For once I’m practically speechless that someone can be this disconnected with reality. Here is the article describing a Michigan woman who won $1 million in the lottery, but still received $200 a month in food assistance and is now arguing she still needs public aid. Here are a few snippets if you just want the quick view:
After taking a lump sum and paying taxes, the unemployed woman said she ended up with just more than $500,000. … Like many winners, she used her $1 million prize to buy a new house. … resident is receiving money in another form — $200 a month in state food assistance … “I thought that they would cut me off, but since they didn’t, I thought, maybe, it was OK because I’m not working,” Clayton, 24, told WDIV … Asked if she had the right to the public assistance money, Clayton answered, “I kind of do. I have no income, and I have bills to pay. I have two houses.” … Clayton told WDIV she would continue using the food-assistance card until it is cut off. “It’s hard. I am struggling.

This is absolutely ridiculous. $500,000 after taxes is the equivalent of 24.83 years of the Lincoln Park, MI per capita income. Apparently Ms. Clayton couldn’t manage to budget that $500,000 well enough to be able to afford food for even a year (she won the prize in September). She bought a house, apparently now owning two houses, and bought a new car, but food? No, she’s still unemployed and can’t afford that. Are you kidding me? This is the single most excessive example of what is wrong with the entitlement mentality and irresponsibility in the US I may have ever heard about. 
Do the math here. This woman walked away with half a million dollars after taxes. She was unemployed, but instead of thinking “I am unemployed and I just won a huge amount of money, I should budget this money to provide for myself at least until I get a job” she bought a house and a car that apparently wiped out that money. She could have taken the annuity payments and had a steady income for years to come, but she chose the get rich quick option. Okay, fine. That’s probably not the smart move if you’re an unemployed 24 year old that (I hope) is searching for work unsuccessfully, but if you spent sensibly, set yourself up comfortably but sustainable, and continued the job search the lump sum option can work. Instead, less than 6 months after winning that money, you “are struggling”. To consider how ridiculous this is, keep in mind this woman isn’t living in a nice neighborhood in California. She’s living in Lincoln Park, Michigan, where the average home price is about $114,000. If she’d purchased an average home for $114,000 or hey, let’s be generous and say she bought a nice place (which I find hard to justify as an unemployed person) for $200,000, she’d still have 60% of her winnings sitting there in cash. Say this unemployed woman decided she wanted to but the fancy Lexus or Mercedes she always wanted for another $100,000. Let’s say she did these things, and spent her winnings that irresponsibly with so little thought of her future. Even doing those irresponsible things, she’d still have $200,000 left over, 5 years of the average household income in Lincoln Park, to budget with. But she’s telling us she still needs food stamps? Let’s get real people. If you can’t manage to make half a million dollars last you 6 months and you think that the state of Michigan, which took an especially hard beating during the recession, still owes you support for food stamps you need to have your head examined. Michigan should cut this woman off and send her a clear message: You were given a rare gift, a unique opportunity, and you squandered it. You could have immediately jumped up the quality of life scale by buying a nice home and car lived as well or even better than the average family in Michigan (who normally doesn’t have the luxury of paying for those things upfront, by the way) and still had plenty of money left over to cover your living expenses for years to come. We don’t owe you anything. 
How can anyone think this is reasonable? That they can waste a huge amount of money and still deserve the government to pay for their food? This is a disheartening example of just how broken our support systems really are, and evidence of how badly we need our citizens to take responsibility for their actions. That’s just my point of view, but if I were a Michigan taxpayer, I’d be really furious right now.

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