SC Social Services Data Questioned … Again
Associated Press reporter Seanna Adcox has a new story up promoting so-called “welfare to work” gains under S.C. Department of Social Services (SCDSS) director Lillian Koller. Adcox’s report – like most of her recent stories – is based exclusively on data provided by the agency (and features nary a word of opposition).
It also follows a recent editorial in The (Charleston, S.C.) Post and Courier that praised Koller’s agency along similar lines.
In other words according to the mainstream media, SCDSS is a success story – one that’s saving taxpayers’ money.
Is that really what’s happening though?
As we’ve noted in our previous coverage, any numbers released by Koller’s agency should be viewed as suspect. Or flat out wrong. In fact we’re shocked that any reporter would take this agency’s word for anything in the wake of the scandal associated with its food stamp data.
According to Adcox’s story, “12,300 people stopped receiving welfare payments between September 2011 and June through (SCDSS)’ welfare-to-work program.” Adcox goes on to quote Koller as saying that “being on public assistance can really debilitate the soul,” and that her agency is helping people “get out of poverty” as opposed to living “more comfortably in it.”
That’s great rhetoric … but what’s the reality?
The program Koller is citing is called the “family independence” program. And last time we checked (July 2012) it had 15,712 people in it. How does that number mesh with Koller’s data? Good question … but our guess is that Koller’s 12,300 figure includes people who have been counted more than once.
In fact a source at the agency referred to the 12,300 figure as another example of Koller “giving out false or padded stats.”
“She’s counting people who have been suspended from the program for a month or two, for not following some procedure, and then who reapply and are accepted in the program again,” the source explains. “It’s a totally manufactured number.”
Then there’s the larger question of what Koller’s “welfare to work” program really does for taxpayers.
What the SCDSS director failed to mention is that the vast majority of these new “workers” are being paid a significant portion of their wages from the federal government. In fact businesses pay only half of the $9.00/ hour wage most of them receive – while the feds pay the rest. Not only that, the government is picking up the tab for day care and transportation for these new “workers.”
In other words, these are still government dependents – and they’re receiving a hell of a lot more than the $233 monthly welfare check they were previously getting (assuming we’re talking about a single mother of two) for doing nothing.
We’re all for getting people off of government assistance … in fact, we strenuously objected to the portion of Barack Obama’s “stimulus” program that scrapped the Bill Clinton-era welfare reform laws and put states back on the “bounty system” (i.e. paying them to pad their welfare rolls).
But we cannot substitute one form of dependency with another and call it “reform.” Nor can we substitute a larger government payout for a smaller one and call it “taxpayer savings.”
SCDSS should be ashamed for touting these illusory “welfare to work” gains. More importantly, Adcox should be embarrassed that she took the agency at its word and trumpeted this nonsense without bothering to find out the truth.
It’s painfully evident at this point that SCDSS is engaging in a pattern of deception with regard to its data. That’s something the mainstream media should be exposing – not swallowing.