One of the most absurd stories I’ve read in recent days details the story of a man who won the lottery, and decided to keep his welfare benefits. LeRoy Fick of Michigan won $2 million in jackpot lottery proceeds, then proceeded to continue using state assistance to purchase food and other grocery items. Thankfully, some conservative Michigan legislators are claiming that Fick ought to forfeit his food stamp benefits. To me, the very fact that folks are even having to discuss this man’s continued use of state assistance is absolutely absurd. Not only should he stop receiving these benefits, but should be forced to repay all funds used since he received his lottery proceeds.
Nevertheless, under Michigan state law, lottery proceeds are considered an asset, not income, so long as the proceeds were received in a lump sum. Fick elected to receive the lump sum, which he then used to purchase a home and an Audi convertible. Now, with hundreds of thousands in the bank, he is continuing to live off of state assistance as opposed to getting a part time job. The sad part is that the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services only uses actual income to calculate eligibility for state assistance. That is not only wrong, it is truly immoral. To add insult to injury, Fick’s attorney, John Wilson, has the audacity to claim that Fick is “not trying to cheat the state.”
In what world would Wilson’s claim carry any credence? Apparently, in the alternate universe that Michigan has become. If folks are still wondering why states like Michigan have fiscal problems, and failing economies, they need look no further than the case of the food stamp lottery winner.
Additionally, Fick’s actions underscore the role of the individual in preserving American freedom and values. Even if the state of Michigan is ignorant enough to allow this man to continue receiving state assistance, he should have the moral compass to cut himself off. Alas, he argues that he’s still entitled to these benefits, since the law does not expressly forbid him. Dear goodness, if we have to pass laws so specific as to detail that lottery winners ought to give up state assistance, the already inflated law books will fill full libraries. The very concept of limited government is that folks govern themselves by common decency and morality.
I call on my fellow citizens to stand up for civility, and for limited government. I’d encourage conservatives here in South Carolina to ensure that our welfare laws do not permit such abuse, and that we, as a society, affirm common decency and shared values. If freedom and free markets are to prevail, a resurgence of private faith must be the forerunner. Jesus told us to treat our neighbors as ourselves. If we do this, if LeRoy Fick would’ve done this, there wouldn’t be a need for massive government paternalism. Freedom starts with each of us having the courage and the moral compass to live in liberty.