Leroy Fick, Meet the Honorary “Ms. Fick 2012.” On Second Thought, Don’t.

Amanda Fick, er, Clayton

Following in the despicable footsteps of Leroy Fick, the  Michigan millionaire lottery winner who collects food stamps because of a loop-hole in the law (and whose name, “fick,” has made the Ethics Alarms glossary as the word for someone who is willfully, openly and shameless unethical), here comes a Ms. Fick, a.k.a Amanda Clayton. She says that she is entitled to food stamps despite having two homes and a million dollar lottery prize that will leave her with $500,000 in the bank. No need for me to be creative here; what went for the Original Fick goes for her as well:

“What ethical principle doesn’t his conduct violate? He’s not responsible; he’s not accountable; he’s not fair. He doesn’t respect his fellow citizens or their opinions. He’s not loyal to his state or his community. He’s not compassionate, and I wouldn’t trust him to walk my dog: he’d probably sell him.  Is he honest? Applying for food stamps is an act that declares that you need them to eat, because that’s the only reason they exist: Leroy Fick isn’t honest.”

Ditto the honorary Ms. Fick, 2012, Amanda Clayton. And if there are any eugenics practitioners out there, please try to keep these ficks from ever getting together. That’s all Michigan needs…a litter of little Ficks.

Thanks to tgt for the tip.

Ethics Quote of the Day: Drew Curtis’ Fark

Mitt Romney is not a player.

“The stupid tax just doubled.'”

Drew Curtis’ Fark, in a typically perceptive jibe, at the announcement by Powerball officials that in order to increase the attractiveness of the multi-state super-lottery, it will be raising the levels of jackpots, lowering the odds against winning, and to make more money, doubling the cost of a ticket.

Fark. com was a guilty pleasure before I started an ethics blog, but is now a daily assignment, as Drew Curtis’s clever link collection where he simultaneously uncovers interesting news items and attaches one-line jokes to them has proven to be a rich source of ethics stories.

The various lotteries are all unethical, as state governments too cowardly to pass taxes on those who can afford it duck their duties by enticing the desperate, the poor, the  gambling addicted, and, as Fark correctly notes, the stupid, to spend money they should be saving or spending on necessities. Their foolish objective, nourished by state promotions, is to buy a remote chance at a life-changing stroke of luck—which, statistics say, is more likely to ruin their lives than to fix them. The original argument for these cynical and degrading devices was that they would balance state budgets and improve the schools. You can see how well that is working out.

So, times being tough, the biggest government pocket-picking scheme of them all,  Powerball,  is trying to suck in more people who shouldn’t be playing and who are grossly irresponsible to waste their money, while charging them more to do it. It’s unfair to have a tax on being stupid—being stupid in the 21st Century costs too much already.

But Fark is right. That’s exactly what Powerball is.

The Indescribable Leroy Fick

Fick, n.: "One who shamelessly and openly violates cultural norms of fairness and decency out of selfish motives"

If Ethics Alarms hadn’t awarded Donald Trump the Jerk of the Year Award, would Leroy Fick deserve it instead?

If Keith Olbermann was still giving out his “Worst Person ” titles, would Leroy Fick retire the category?

What is the right term for someone as shamelessly self-centered, and greedy as Leroy Fick?  “Bounder” is too dignified. “Creep” is too mild. “Bum’ is too sympathic. “Asshole’ is too generic. I’ve been searching all night; there isn’t a word in existence that does him justice.

Leroy Fick is a 59-year-old Auburn, Michigan man who won $2 million in a state lottery last June. Nevertheless, he is still living on food stamps, because eligibility for food stamps is based on gross income,  and  lottery winnings  don’t count as income. As long as Fick’s gross income stays below the eligibility requirement for food stamps, he can legally qualify for them, and despite the fact that  he knows they are only meant to help support low-income families, and despite the fact that they are paid for by taxpayers, and despite the fact that Michigan, like most states, is swimming in red ink, Leroy Fick intends to keep letting the state help feed him just as if he was destitute.

“If you’re going to try to make me feel bad, you’re not going to do it,” Fick told WNEM-TV in Saginaw on Monday. Naturally, Fick has a lawyer whose task it is to excuse his client’s astoundingly irresponsible conduct. He says that Fick “has done nothing wrong. It’s the system that needs (to be) changed.” Continue reading

California’s Confused Welfare Ethics

The Los Angeles Times has been running a series of stories detailing how many California welfare recipients have been using their state-issued welfare debit cards (which take money directly out of state coffers) at casino ATM’s. The millions of dollars in taxpayer money dispensed to eager, if poor, gamblers produced predictable outrage, and the state responded by blocking use of the cards at over 200 ATM’s and revising the pledge signed by welfare recipients to require them to only use the assistance to “meet the basic subsistence needs” of their families.

The outrage is misplaced, and the remedial measures are symbolic at best. Continue reading

Stats, Polar Bears, and “Truth by Repetition”

When I did marketing for a company that created annuities for the recipients of large court damages, I was armed with alarming statistics I had gleaned from the annuity industry’s publications.  Half of the recipients of large lump sum settlements or damages from personal injury and medical negligence lawsuits had dissipated all of the funds (usually calculated to last a lifetime) within two years or less. More than 75% had blown through all the cash, often millions of dollars, within five years. These figures were accepted as fact everywhere,  and we used them profitably to persuade plaintiffs, lawyers and courts to approve annuity arrangements that would parcel out the funds over the years, keeping the money safe from needy relatives and spending sprees. Then, one day, I decided to track down the studies that were the sources of the statistics I was using.

There weren’t any. I discovered a circular trail, with various sources quoting each other. Continue reading

Pennsylvania’s and Delaware’s Disgrace: Risking the Poor to Balance the Budgets

Delaware and Pennsylvania, facing state budget deficits that would require political courage and citizen sacrifice to address, has taken the craven route of other states (with more sure to follow) by legalizing casino gambling.

In Pennsylvania, State Republicans, the majority party in the state senate, had opposed the expansion of gambling , but capitulated when faced with the reality of having to choose between cutting jobs and services or raising taxes. Instead, the Republicans joined with Democrats, those champions of the weak and powerless,  to victimize the poorest people in the state for profit. Continue reading