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Wall St. Journal Columnist Bashes Food Stamp Program, Just for Fun

5:48 am in jerks by Bill Egnor

Food Stamps

Food Stamps by NCReedplayer

There is a concept in business that you should manage exceptions not manage to the exceptions. Basically it means that if you have a couple of minor problems with a process you should deal with the people making the problems rather than make a policy that is so restrictive that, while preventing this problem, encumbers everyone who is involved in the process so shackled that it reduces output, innovation and efficiency.

When it comes to public policy, Republicans can’t seem to grasp this idea. There is a good example of this in Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal. James Bovard is a “Pox on both your houses” libertarian who likes to point out problems without viable solutions.

Yesterday he took to his roost at the WSJ and cawed out a column about the abuses of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) which used to be called Food Stamps. Mr. Bovard gives several examples of abuse and fraud in the program that currently helps 44 million Americans feed themselves.

He makes the argument that the Obama Administration’s decision not to spend a lot of time and money on fraud enforcement is a major problem. Or more correctly he just complains. Here is part of what he had to say:

The Obama administration is far more enthusiastic about boosting food-stamp enrollment than about preventing fraud. Thanks in part to vigorous federally funded campaigns by nonprofit groups, the government’s AmericaCorps service program, and other organizations urging people to accept government handouts, the number of food-stamp recipients has soared to 44 million from 26 million in 2007, and costs have more than doubled to $77 billion from $33 billion.

The USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service now has only 40 inspectors to oversee almost 200,000 merchants that accept food stamps nationwide. The Government Accountability Office reported last summer that retailers who traffic illegally in food stamps by redeeming stamps for cash or alcohol or other prohibited items “are less likely to face criminal penalties or prosecution” than in earlier years.

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Can Lawyers Adequately Police Themselves?

3:00 pm in Justice Department by Bill Egnor

Lady Justice

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? Commonly translated as “Who watches the watchmen?” is the heart of the problem we face with in this country in regards to the rule of law. The law, in theory, is supposed to be about balance. This is why our version of Lady Justice is portrayed with scales and a blindfold. The concept is that Justice does not notice who you are, it merely judges the balance between claims.

For this to work, we must have judges and lawyers that adhere to the ideal of legal ethics. Ethics in the law can be summed up in in terms of loyalty; loyalty to the client, loyalty to the law and loyalty to the profession. This is very important as our system of law and justice has at its core the adversarial system.

This system is based on the idea that two advocates, arguing the facts before an impartial judge and or jury will be more likely to arrive at the truth of the matter than any other method. Given this zero sum game (one side wins, one side looses) there needs to be that loyalty to the law and the profession. Without it, there comes a win at any cost mentality, and then the scales of justice get a big thumb put on them.

Lawyers are human beings (okay lets keep the jokes in comments to minimum on that statement, eh?) they just as likely to have faults as anyone else in the population. Some will have really high integrity and some will have none at all. They will make personal judgments that are at odds with the requirements of their code of ethics.

Take the case of Charles Hood, from Texas. In 1990 he was convicted of murdering Tracie Wallace and was sentenced to death by Judge Verla Holland. The problem here is Judge Holland had had an extramarital affair with the prosecutors some three years before. That’s right, this judge had a romantic relationship with the prosecuting attorney, yet she did not recuse herself from hearing cases with him.

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