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.