His headline-making is not because he struck it big in the “Make Me Rich” contest last June, but rather because he still receives — and uses — food stamps.
While many across the nation are outraged at Fick’s refusal to give up his food-stamp allotment, none should be surprised. He has simply fallen in step with what this country has become: the Great Melting Pot of Moochers.
Besides, Fick’s lawyer says his client is doing nothing wrong by keeping his food stamps, handed out in Michigan in the form of a Bridge Card. Funny, Fick has no problem paying for a lawyer.
"He's not trying to cheat the state," Fick's attorney John Wilson was quoted in an ABC News article. "Based on his income, he's eligible."
Fick is unemployed with his only income from Social Security benefits. His income does not change after taking home lottery winnings of $850,000, because that money is an asset, not part of his income. Michigan law currently says assets have no bearing on a person’s eligibility for food stamps.
Never mind Michigan’s unemployment rate in April 2011 was at 10.2 percent, higher, even, than the rest of the nation’s 9 percent, or Arizona’s 9.3, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Never mind that those who work their fannies off to pay taxes are now buying Fick’s bread and butter while he stuffs his bank account full of hundreds of thousands of dollars. And never mind the outrage.
Fick is not only doing nothing illegal — he is living the new American Dream. He found a way to beat the system.
While the American dream used to be based on a combination of hard work and solid ethics that would propel you to the top, it’s now based on a sense of entitlement, which is usually not even enough to propel many off the couch. You can, after all, manipulate the system from a seated position.
Food stamps and other types of welfare used to be a mark of shame, with families scrambling to do anything they could to avoid government handouts. Somewhere down the line the tables turned, with welfare now instilling pride to suck off the system, even for folks with $850,000 in the bank.
To his credit, Fick did say he contacted the state Department of Human Services to make sure he could still use his Bridge Card. Such a question, in the bygone days of working to earn a living, would not have even been posed.
"The thing that really bothers me is (that) in our state, we have so many people out of work ... so many people in need of assistance, and for a lottery winner to get food stamps" is unfair, ABC News quoted Michigan Rep Charles Brunner. "If it's a glitch in the law, we've got to fix it now."
Brunner then went scrambling to introduce legislation that allowed the state to factor in assets, and not just income, on food-stamp applications. A Michigan Department of Human Services spokeswoman confirmed, "We are actively seeking a change to the food assistance policy to see that only those who are truly (in) need qualify."
In the meantime, Fick says he does not feel guilty about continuing to receive his food stamps, especially since he just gave the state more than $1 million in taxes from his lottery winnings. His lawyer also noted Fick would stop using his food stamps if the state changes its policy. How kind of him to comply.
Fick’s arguments — and continued use of food stamps despite a fat wad in the bank — should not anger us. His actions should instead inspire. He’s a role model that epitomizes the New America: home of the bravely demanding, the land of the “Gimme that Free.”
Ryn Gargulinski, aka Rynski, is a writer, artist, performer and poet. Her radio show airs every Wednesday and her column appears every Friday. See more writing and art from RYNdustries at ryngargulinski.com and rynski.etsy.com.