We all know welfare benefits come with a host of problems. Not only are they a burden on the taxpayer, but they’re often so generous that recipients never return to the work force or seek full-time employment. Moreover, research shows that welfare doesn’t even succeed in its stated goal, which is to reduce poverty. In fact, it may even cause an increase in poverty.
In addition to questions about the effectiveness of welfare programs, abuse of welfare has become a common occurrence. In one recent example, a Virginia woman was receiving benefits while her husband was raking in over $1 million annually.
An Arlington woman was arrested this week and charged with four counts of welfare fraud for collecting over $100,000 in benefits – all while her husband was a high-earning attorney in D.C., police say.
Police say a six-month investigation into Helen Agbapuruonwu, 41, found that the mother of four had collected benefits like food stamps and Medicaid assistance for the past six years.
While Helen was collecting benefits, her husband, Fidelis Agbapuruonwu, was earning $1.5 million per year as a lawyer, according to court documents obtained by News4.Although her husband hasn’t been charged, it’s possible her husband was in on the fraud: Fidelis’ LinkedIn page claims he works for the D.C. firm of Mayer Brown, but today the firm said he no longer works there. Court officials believe Fidelis, a Nigerian immigrant, has “fled the country and is somewhere in Africa.”
So far, police have not released any information on why the woman was abusing the system. Not only did she not qualify for benefits, but the value of the benefits she did receive were only a fraction of her husband’s income. It’s unlikely receiving the benefits did much to improve the couple’s standard of living.
The bizarre story highlights what has become a growing problem. Once welfare programs are in place, they rarely become less generous. As the benefits grow, so does the bureaucracy, causing hardworking taxpayers to subsidize the lives of people who don’t need help.
In order to prevent occurrences like this from continuing to happen, lawmakers need to give welfare benefits a serious makeover. Taxpayers deserve to have their money spent wisely. Sadly, governments are typically experts at wasting it.
[Note: This post was authored by Michael Lee. Follow him on Twitter @UAMichaelLee]