Editorial: Systems need some cleaning, regulation

Aug. 03, 2013 @ 10:05 PM

Programs helping people in the Tri-County are getting reviewed and may soon be facing stricter regulations and controls.

Advocates for those being helped by the programs are fighting the actions. In the long run, however, those fights if not properly waged could do more harm than good.

The Work First and food stamps programs in North Carolina may soon include drug testing of applicants. It is included in House Bill 392 that rests on the desk of Gov. Pat McCrory.

He’s not sure of implementation, and worries for possible litigations. The new law would attempt to strengthen background checks.

Privacy issues are central to the ACLU of North Carolina and the N.C. Justice Center. They argue violating low-income people’s physical privacy because they seek assistance isn’t fair and call it an “unreasonable search.”

Nationally, momentum is building toward a September clash on food stamps. The program has doubled in size since 2007, swallowing up $78 billion last year. Its days of protection in farm legislation may be numbered.

The food stamps program was launched in 1939. It didn’t take five months for the first case of fraud. The program now includes use by a staggering one in every seven Americans.

Even recognizing unemployment and poverty numbers, that number seems high.

Assistance programs in our state and nation are not at issue. We know their value, we know their need, and we know our communities benefit from their existence.

We suggest today the protection of the programs is in the best interest for our community. And that means tighter and stricter controls are needed whether its HB 392 or something else.

We’ve got to clean up the system.

The cheaters are not limited to those making applications; it also includes other parties involved with the transactions. Make no mistake: the push for these controls, to be have fiscal responsibility with these programs, will not stop.

Denials now could mean even stricter measures later. We’ve already seen that with voter identification vetoed by former Gov. Bev Perdue and “the package” awaiting McCrory’s signature now.

The answer to assist those in need is for people truly needing the system to help those trying to establish stronger regulations.