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Letter: County right to weed out people who cheat system

County right to weed out people who cheat system

This is in response to an April 12 letter from a doctor critical of The Buffalo News for its in-depth article on tracking down welfare overpayments and individuals essentially cheating. She calls for “universal basic income” as a possible solution in the aggregate, and says that society should move away from disrespectful stereotypes of the poor.

First off, I know this physician somewhat through her work in community mental health. She is wonderful. She is highly skilled and forever giving of herself. She is a true humanitarian. And so, I’m not out to challenge her premise so much as to hopefully add to the discussion.

Can we all agree there is a world of difference between truly disabled folks, those with severe mental illness and serious developmental disabilities versus able-bodied people who are fully capable of working? And for these healthy, active people and their progeny who receive welfare or food stamps, what is wrong with asking them to do “workfare” and to seek competitive employment? I cannot fault a very large program such as the Erie County Department of Social Services from investigating to identify folks who may be collecting payments unlawfully.

Finally, after decades of society striving to provide a safety net for the truly needy, have we not gained some wisdom that we are inadvertently perpetuating a system that has negative consequences for the generations of people we are trying to help? And is it fair or reasonable to tell the people paying for these social services – aka taxpayers – that they simply are obligated to keep paying and paying without room for questions or exploring better options?

David Casassa


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