Fliers threaten to name food stamp recipients
An anonymous antagonist in Portland, Ore., is targeting them as a drain on taxpayers. The same person has challenged the disabled as well.
Occasionally, they like to go out into the real world and cause grief just because they can. In Portland, Ore., occasionally someone carries a rifle, straps on some armor and forces the closure of the Burnside Bridge across the Willamette River for 45 minutes. On other occasions, people will openly carry AR-15 rifles through Southeast Portland just to "educate" people that doing so is legal.
More recently, however, an anonymous individual has been distributing fliers in Southeast Portland threatening to expose the identities of people in that neighborhood who are receiving disability payments. The individual has since shifted his or her attention to people receiving food stamps. The fliers -- signed only by "Artemis of the wildland," a woeful misreading of the Greek deity and "mistress of the animals" who appears in Homer's "The Illiad" -- read as follows:
"There are twenty seven people in this neighborhood who vote and receive food stamps. The names of these people are being posted where they can be seen by taxpayers and the neighborhood can decide who is truly in need of food."
This course of action has just a few problems, beyond the obvious trolling. First off, despite what "Portlandia" may tell you, Oregon is a fairly poor state in which 21% of the population is enrolled in the food stamp program (officially called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP), according to the Department of Agriculture. That's well above the 15% national average and trails only Mississippi's 22%. With that usage so widespread, comparatively affluent Southeast Portland represents a small fraction of the state's food stamp recipients.
Second, public shaming has a nasty habit of backfiring in spectacular fashion. Remember when the Journal News in New York's Westchester County ran a map of all the permitted gun owners in its coverage area just because it could? The ensuing backlash drove home the fact that, even when it's a matter of public record, folks don't like having perfectly legal portions of the private lives placed on display without their permission.
Finally, there's the greater question of the legality of what the flier distributor is threatening. Portland police say it's not likely the person behind the fliers has committed a crime yet, but the U.S. Department of Agriculture says the follow-through would cross the line.
"Names of recipients are not public records," Brooke Hardison, a spokeswoman for the USDA, told The Huffington Post. "Such information is only to be used for administration and enforcement of the program."
If the troll's only goal was to make enemies and be almost universally hated, then bravo on the world-class trolling. Portland Mayor Charlie Hales' office and the Portland police are now tracking the fliers with the public's help.
The residents of typically laid-back Southeast Portland have been almost unanimously disapproving in their responses. "To just use a broad brush and put every single person's name up there without really investigating any of the situations," resident Lauren Davidson told CBS affiliate KFVS, "I don't think that's right."
Wouldn't it be nice if we could marshall the forces to uncover, prosecute and publisize those who are taking public assistance fraudulently?
These folks ARE breaking the law and deserve public humiliation.
For those on disability, wouldn't it be better if their neighbors could identify them, you know, just in case they miraculously recover long enough to mow their own grass or prune their own trees or carry a bunch of cases of soda into the house.
Simply being on a welfare program shouldn't draw so much criticism as it does. Millions of hard working adults receive government aid because employers refuse to pay a livable wage. These people don't deserve the embarrassment of a public listing. The true freeloaders in the system are the people who refuse to work yet they still receive assistance. These people deserve to be listed and kicked off of assistance if they can't prove due diligence in looking for work.
If someone is accepting public assistance, it should be available on public records. If they don't want their name out there then they can choose not to accept it. They are in control of the situation.
Too many people are trying to make excuses for why anyone accepting public assistance should remain anonymous. Talking about the US Gov sending money to states. As individuals we have no control over what the Gov funds the states and most of us will not see any of that money anyway. The argument about people earning less than a livable wage....... come on. No one if forcing them to work that job. At some point, people need to take some personal responsibility for their situation. Enough excuses already.
Post what you want..If I get them its because I need them. I could care less what someone else thinks of me if I were in that situation.
FYI- They've been posting names of those on the take since the very beginning.. It's called the U.S. Government.
Who knew this country was so full of worthless, spiteful trolls? Brutus625 clearly has a mental problem - he thinks his miserable contribution is paying for someone else's food. Wake up idiot.
You've had your clock cleaned by Wall Street and the Pentagon and you think it's the poor that are stealing from you. What a moron!!
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A basic income policy can actually ensure a decent standard of living for everyone.
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