Home » Cheating the System: it’s the American Way

Cheating the System: it’s the American Way

Cheating the SystemOrdering complimentary water at McDonald’s and filling your cup with Coke, or paying to go see a single movie and actually engaging in multiple viewings are two fairly common examples of “cheating the system”. Most of us have witnessed others weasel their way in or out of things, and admittedly, some of us have even done some cheating ourselves. Of course, to many, stealing a few ounces of soda from a billion dollar corporation is not much of a problem, and paying a few more dollars to further entertain oneself with a second or third film is pure absurdity.

These everyday scenarios spark awareness in people’s minds, and they may realize that cheating the system is not exactly an uncommon practice. But, cheating a theater or restaurant are seemingly mere extraneous problems in today’s society, because the people’s last concern is whether or not Donald Thompson’s fast food empire is cracking down on soda machine culprits. There is a different problem concerning tricksters in America, and it is a significantly larger issue when compared to the minor swindling done by the Average Joe. This type of scheming is more than a simple abuse of power. This type of scheming can be simply stated as fraud, perpetrated on our own government.

Fraud is a noun that typically carries a negative connotation. And, often times, it is used in an extremely formal way; in the courts, on the news, and on page 78 of the terms and conditions file that nobody really bothers reading. In many aspects, the word is underrated. People generally see it as being so formal, they fail to realize that even the apparently “inconspicuous” immoral acts they do are actually anything but innocent, and perfectly fit the definition of fraudulent.

On a small-scale, someone could photocopy multiple copies of free Burrito Supreme coupons to use at their local Taco Bell. On a large-scale, another person could lie about the amount of people living their household in order to gain more financial aid for college. Of course, the coupon-clipping situation seems less extreme than the financial aid situation, but both fit the definition of fraud, which, according to Random House Dictionary, is “deceit, trickery, sharp practice, or breach of confidence, perpetrated for profit or to gain some unfair or dishonest advantage.” In other words, getting free burritos is just as fitting of the definition of fraud as receiving undeserved financial aid. Of course, the consequence of using faulty coupons is a simple rejection at the register, not a knocking on your front door by the IRS.

Ultimately, stealing from Taco Bell is like stealing from a baby: it fails to mean much, and a lecture will be the farthest punishment will go. Comparatively, defrauding the government is like stealing from a mother, or the person that has tried to do what is in your best interest. And, that is the straight fact that makes defrauding the government so wrong. Why abuse the privilege that has been so graciously granted to us by a higher power? As Americans, were blessed enough to have programs to help ones that are struggling with their current way of life. We live in a democracy, not a dictatorship, but yet, people still feel the need to rebel, even if the forms are in relations to finance rather than ferocity.

Government-related fraud is not limited to the FSA, or Federal Student Aid. In fact, defrauding the government is extremely common among welfare-recipients. Whether or not this explains why the woman in front of you at Ralphs was using an EBT card but had a designer purse is not exactly my question to answer. But according to the USDA, the United States welfare-based SNAP program, intended to encourage low to no income families to eat healthy, has been the victim of fraud, with convenience stores selling unrelated product to customers- if they simply hand over their EBT cards, or food stamps. “When times get tough, people do desperate things,” Doraid Markus, a lawyer who defends these “suffering” businesses, reported to the Associated Press.

But it seems as if abusing given rights is the last thing one would want to do, especially when it was recently announced that the U.S. government’s debt-ceiling would be raised again. Welfare fraud causes our country to lose over nine billion dollars annually- money that is simply being granted towards those who are not eligible for it. Some may argue that the government makes to “easy” to scam them, and it is true that when applying for financial assistance from the government, applications like FAFSA, or the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, make it fairly convenient to lie about your income, household count, and marital status.

Realistically, the government knows whether you are lying or not, and many have been put in prison for it, but perhaps they will opt out on specifically hunting you down for your misdemeanor. When all’s said and done, exemplifying fraud toward the government is no better than exemplifying fraud toward the motherland: they are both equally illicit and immoral.

By Sydney Sweeney for https://losososgrizzlygazette.wordpress.com

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Name: Richard Billies

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