Fixing The Department Of Veterans’ Affairs

The Department of Veterans’ Affairs, responsible for the care of those who’ve stepped into the line of fire for the sake of their country, has now come under a fire of its own. Recent investigations of the VA have revealed shocking allegations that VA hospitals nation-wide have been altering their books to more favorably portray the amount of time a veteran has had to wait for medical care. Let’s take a look at the recent issues with the VA and what the House of Representatives is doing to fix the problem.

Results of the Internal Audit of Veterans’ Affairs

Released on June 10, the number of veterans affected by this practice has reached a staggering number of over 120,000, according to CNN’s reporting of the Veterans’ Affairs internal audit. Of the 120,000 veterans, it is estimated that over 63,000 were never actually scheduled for the appointment they needed. The remaining portion has had to wait nearly three months to see someone, a practice uncommon in many other industries, but potentially fatal in the health industry.

With the release of the audit, an analysis that dissects the department for all to see, officials and citizens of the United States are just getting a taste of the corruption and erosion facing many VA facilities. The report, which surveyed over 3,700 staff members of various facilities, identified several issues with the scheduling of appointments for veterans, ranging from unfamiliarity amongst staff with best practices, to staff receiving instruction from immediate supervisors to alter appointment dates.

House of Representatives Passes a Bill to Aid Veterans

In response to these numbers found in the audit, and hot off the presses this week, is news that the House of Representatives has voted on and passed legislation to not only end the scheduling practices named above, but to begin the process of allowing veterans to see doctors near them, rather than having to wait for an open spot at a Veterans’ Affairs facility. The appointments would still be funded by the VA, but it would release pressure from the struggling organization to keep up with the demand of care requested by our military vets and speed up the process for veterans who are still without the care they need.

According to Fox News, the final vote for the bill to pass the House of Representatives totaled 426-0, with the unanimous decision reflecting a desire to not only fix the problem but to keep themselves from appearing as part of a group not in support of the changes, which would be “politically toxic.”

The Nation’s View of the VA Leadership

The reveal of these wait times and the corruption of the VA healthcare system has left the nation with doubts as to the integrity of its leadership and the overall analysis and audit of the department. With the resignation of the head of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, Eric Shinseki, the VA is currently counting on the acting head of the Department, Sloan Gibson, to begin the trek to a healthier and more honest system.

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The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

Welfare Abuse Still A Serious Problem In The United States

Welfare abuse is a severe problem across the country. Each year, millions of Americans receive government benefits such as housing assistance, food stamps, telephone service, and other funds. Rather than supporting themselves, many of these citizens feel the taxpayers should foot their bills. Time and time again, there have been gross examples of people taking advantage of the system. Initially, this sparks some discussion; and for a while, people really seem dedicated to welfare reform. However, lasting change never comes, and taxpayers continue to be robbed of their hard-earned dollars.

This past fall, a radio show gave concrete, indisputable evidence that welfare abuse is taking place every day. Two men on the KLBJ radio station in Austin, Texas were having a discussion about welfare. They were saying that as a result of federal programs, people were coming to expect free money from the government. Then, something they probably didn’t expect happened. A woman called in, explained that she lived off welfare, and said she found no reason to stop. Furthermore, she claimed it wasn’t fair for them to antagonize her because she lived off welfare.

Let’s Not Forget About Lucy

The woman introduced herself as Lucy, a 32-year-old mother and wife with no desire to work. She personally receives over $1,200 a month in federal assistance. Her husband, who works odd jobs, also receives family benefits. She does not work but is able to–and says she has no desire to ever work or contribute to society. She doesn’t see why she should work, when with welfare, she can stay home all day, hang out with friends, and smoke marijuana–and still get paid. As if this wasn’t audacious enough, Lucy said she’s disgusted by people who think she’s a bad person for living off tax dollars. She views working class people as idiots, even, because they work only to receive what she already has. She asked the radio hosts why she should work when she receives everything she needs for free. Lucy expects to be on welfare for the rest of her life, just like her parents.

Unsurprisingly, Lucy’s speech was met with disgust and outrage. People were furious that our government allows people to live in such an entitled manner. A video of the radio segment went viral on YouTube:

The response it sparked made hardworking people everywhere hopeful that welfare might finally be reformed.

Social Assistance Is Damaging

It goes without saying that people like Lucy should not and cannot be allowed to continue living the way they do. Our country was built by hardworking and dedicated people; that’s what the American dream is all about. Part of what people need, though, is an incentive to work. If we took away Lucy’s welfare benefits, you can bet she’d be out there filling out job applications just like the rest of us.

Right now, welfare and other assistance programs are a self-perpetuating burden on taxpayers. As Lucy mentioned in the segment, people learn about welfare at a young age because they see their parents receiving it. She said you’d be stupid not to take free money when it was offered. Furthermore, she mentioned it can be difficult to get off welfare once you’re receiving full benefits.

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The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

The War on Charity

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In the names of public health and public safety, municipalities continue to crack down on charities that feed the homeless. At the same time, a recent survey has found that cites are seeing a sharp rise in demand for emergency food.

The issue has largely become a debate about how charities are hurting local businesses and causing public sanitation and disturbance problems. Nevertheless, there seems to be a rather glaring rise in poverty and need for assistance, as found in a recent U.S. Conference of Mayors study.

According to Yahoo News, “a survey of 25 American cities, including many of the nation’s largest, showed yearly increases in food aid and homelessness. The cities, located throughout 18 states, saw requests for emergency food aid rise by an average of 7 percent compared with the previous period a year earlier…”

Among some of the highest percentages in demographics of the survey, it was found that unemployment was the largest contributor to these statistics. In addition, the study found that high percentages of these requests came from the elderly, veterans and the homeless. Almost one-third of these requests came from those who suffer from mental illness.

A War on Charity

The controversy has heightened in recent years, as cities are cracking down on charities that publicly feed the homeless. In Dauphin County, Pa., a religious organization called Isaiah 61 has been banned from using a parking lot that is owned by the county.

Isaiah 61 had been using the parking lot for five years as a place where they could provide hot meals to local homeless people. In response to complaints, the county posted “No Loitering” signs. Isaiah 61 says that this move “violates the group’s freedom of religion,” as reported by Jeff Frantz from

In December 2013, another story from Bret Wilkins of Digital Journal reported on a controversial homeless feeding ban in St. Louis, and that the city is sticking to its guns, despite public outcry. It dealt with Churches on the Streets, a program that proved home-cooked meals and sermons to the city’s homeless.

Government to the Rescue?

City governments who decide to implement these bans have a rationale for doing so. The government naturally wants to have a say, especially when it comes to taking care of impoverished citizens. So, how are local government faring in their objective? The Yahoo News article finds an interesting answer in its recent survey. It says that a cut in SNAP benefits, formerly known as the food-stamp program, was also causing a decrease in food available for the needy. This is turn forces them to turn to organizations that are less prepared to face this demand.

So it seems that the government has been cutting food assistance, forcing the homeless to turn to charitable organizations like Isaiah 61 and Churches on the Street.

Though it can be argued that local governments never said that these charities weren’t allowed to practice their faith and feed the impoverished, they simply say that these charities need to have permits, inspections and can’t use public property. Another recurring theme found in these reports is that local governments are “burdening’” these operations to the point of infeasibility.

Simply put, the government isn’t completely banning charities from feeding the homeless, and this does seem to be a far cry from attacking religious freedom as a whole. However, this appears to be more of a classic government control and incompetence issue.

Obviously, the government does not want to make things easy for charities, and while they aren’t technically banning them from feeding the homeless, they are making it a logistical impossibility. Their rationale may be that they feel better able to deal with the homeless than churches and charities. Sure they are.

At the same time, we have found that government food assistance has taken a nosedive, driving the homeless towards charities that are now no longer able to help them. This is what happens when constitutional freedom and morality are abandoned by a control-obsessed government.

Sadly, the ones who stand to lose the most are the homeless.

Adrienne Erin is a skeptical freelance writer and designer who is always turning a critical eye to the news. To see more of her work, check out these Mustang reads.

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Why New York City Is In Danger

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On Tuesday, November 5, Bill de Blasio (above) was elected mayor of New York City. During his campaign, de Blasio promised he would get rid of Ray Kelly as police commissioner if elected. A large part of his desire to oust Kelly is due to the fact that the commissioner used a method called stop-and-frisk to apprehend criminals. This method has been somewhat controversial — many claim it is racist because it tends to target African-Americans and other ethnic minorities.

However, the policy has been successful in driving down crime rates. If eliminating stop-and-frisk could cause crime rates to increase, why would anyone want to do so? Moreover, why would any sane person want to remove Ray Kelly from office when he’s made the city so safe?

What is Stop-and-Frisk?

Stop-and-frisk is a policy in which police officers have the authority to take suspicious-looking people off the street and search their person for weapons or drugs. Ray Kelly enacted the policy in an effort to drive down crime in New York, especially in its seedier neighborhoods. For the most part, the policy has worked. Criminals carrying guns without permits have been arrested, and crime has gone down. As a result, you can walk in any neighborhood in the city during the day without fearing for your life.

Racial Prejudice?

Those who oppose stop-and-frisk do so because they feel the practice is bigoted. Opponents say those who receive pat downs are almost always a member of a racial minority. They claim that stop-and-frisk unfairly targets these groups.

However, racial minorities are only targeted because they are more likely to commit crimes. Police are instructed to look for minorities because they are far more likely to be violent criminals. This is a cold, hard fact, not an unfair racial prejudice. Why would you only target white people when they’re not the ones carrying illegal weapons?

Many of the city’s more dangerous neighborhoods are also ethnic neighborhoods. Of course, police will pat down fewer white people when patrolling these neighborhoods because they’re not as likely to live there. Unfortunately, ethnic neighborhoods are some of the poorest. This is nothing against the people who live there — again, it’s just a fact. Sometimes ethnic minorities may not be U.S. citizens and may not be able to find good jobs. Sometimes they may simply be new to the country and have not yet been able to get on their feet. Often, ethnic and racial minorities were oppressed in the past and may have not yet been able to move themselves out of poverty. In any case, the poorer a neighborhood is, the more likely it is to be crime-ridden.

The Future of New York

The New York of today is not the New York of twenty or thirty years ago. In the 1970s and 80s, it wasn’t safe to take the subway, let alone walk around the Yankee Stadium in the south Bronx. Today, however, violent crime in the city is very low; and you don’t have to worry about being caught in crossfire or mugged on your way home from work. Taking the subway is one of the fastest, cheapest, and safest ways to get around the city. It would be a shame for crime to rise simply because people have a problem with stop-and-frisk. Under Ray Kelly and his staff, New York became a safe place to live and work. Sadly, though, an increase in crime may very well occur if Kelly is forced to leave office.


Adrienne Erin is a skeptical freelance writer and designer who is always turning a critical eye to the news. To see more of her work, check out this infographic about preventable death, one of America’s most embarrassing statistics.


Photo credit: azipaybarah (Creative Commons)

The Case For Abandoning Political Parties

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Political parties in this country need to be abolished. It’s a fact. The bickering in Washington over “Obamacare” and the debt ceiling, as well as much of the gridlock that has taken over Capitol Hill in recent years, has made that evident by now. We are fed up, and we know Washington hears it. But is Washington really listening? Do they truly hear the will of the people?

Maybe we have not been listening to Washington. George Washington, that is. The truth is that we abandoned the warnings of our great leaders, intentionally or unintentionally, a long time ago.  Papa George warned us about the danger inherent in party politics in his farewell address to the nation in 1796, and his words were clear:

There is an opinion that parties in free countries are useful checks upon the administration of the government, and serve to keep alive the spirit of liberty. This within certain limits is probably true and in governments of a monarchical cast patriotism may look with indulgence, if not with favor, upon the spirit of party. But in those of the popular character, in governments purely elective, it is a spirit not to be encouraged.

John Adams warned us too, in 1789:

There is nothing which I dread so much as a division of the republic into two great parties, each arranged under its leader, and concerting measures in opposition to each other. This, in my humble apprehension, is to be dreaded as the greatest political evil under our Constitution.

I like the more recent words of President Eisenhower (in 1956) the best:

If a political party does not have its foundation in the determination to advance a cause that is right and that is moral, then it is not a political party; it is merely a conspiracy to seize power.

The human drive for power and to win at all costs motivates our leaders when it should be the drive to represent the people and make their lives better. Party politics is evil because it encourages competition; and as a result, our lives are not better. But what is even worse than us failing to listen to our greatest leaders is that our current leaders are failing to listen to us.

Throughout the government shutdown that just ended last week, we the people, Republicans and Democrats alike, rallied. We made it known in the media that we did not want political rivalries and ill will to be the reason that hard-working Americans who just want to earn a living were furloughed, services withheld, and our most treasured landmarks locked up.  But what makes the situation worse is that the world is failing too because, like it or not, the world economy depends heavily on the United States. When our economy is stable, so too is the world’s economy.

But Obama wouldn’t compromise, and neither would Boehner. Their desire to remain loyal to their party affiliations rather than the ones who matter most took over and would not rest until someone cried “uncle.”  Their egos took over; and we nearly defaulted on our loans, which everyone knew would mean trouble for a country and a world that is still trying to recover from the Second Great Depression.

Obama and Boehner have not been able to compromise on anything, and the sore on our stability as a nation will continue to fester when they are gone and others have taken over their positions. The political parties have locked horns and refuse to cooperate. It’s Republican versus Democrat. Someone has to win, and no one is willing to lose. It’s no longer about having legitimate debates, making arguments, and speedily legislating the affairs of the country in the best interest of the people.  It’s about winning.

With regard to the tired arguments for or against “Obamacare” that have been playing out in the press, both sides have valid arguments. The financial climate may not be adequate to cover the medical bills of every man, woman, and child; and it may never be adequate. But at the same time, how can we let those who are unemployed and can’t afford health care flounder? I don’t know who is right and who is wrong.  The reason our country is failing is not entirely anyone’s fault. The source of the gridlock on Capitol Hill is party politics. The sooner our elected leaders can shake off the shackles of their party affiliations and talk like adults rather than as children, the sooner the sore that is hurting our society will heal.


Adrienne Erin is a skeptical freelance writer who is fed up with the bickering between major parties no longer being about the welfare of the people. To see more of her work, check out this infographic about the world’s tallest buildings.


Photo credit: DonkeyHotey (Creative Commons)