Ya know, I realize that this particular board is wide-ranging and freewheeeling, but at some point off-topic is off-topic and requires some sort of intervention.
Since the moderators aren't inclined to step in. . .
A few notes on the original subject:
1. Let's keep waste, fraud and abuse out of the conversation, because I don't know anyone who favors it, and I doubt that you do either. The fact that cheating exists is not in itself a fair condemnation of good faith efforts to help the less fortunate.
2. Nor is having an automobile. I find it odd that people who need to work and want to work would be faulted for having the means to get to work.
3. A poverty line set at $22,000 for a family seems, if anything, low. . .at least here in the Eastern Megalopolis. Perhaps elsewhere it is not. In case anyone doubts it, that $22,000 number is the 2011 poverty line for a family of four in the contiguous 48. Alaska and Hawaii have separate numbers which are somewhat higher, because the high cost of living is recognized in those places, but not elsewhere. The definition of poverty that generates these numbers is "the inability of the family to acquire the basic needs of life that the rest of society takes for granted."
4. It follows then that assistance for the impoverished should first take the form of the basic needs of food, shelter and clothing. Beyond that, educational opportunities should be paramount. And beyond that, providing the opportunity for parents to work should have strong support. . .things like after-school programs for kids. Finally, basic preventive and chronic health care is a must. . .and delivered in settings other than emergency rooms (the most expensive way to do it).
5. I don't know where Todd gets his references to cell phones, air conditioning and cable TV, but they're clearly not in the universe of "basic needs." Although a telephone of some sort surely is these days.
6. Finally, all the righteous indignation about providing assistance to illegal immigrants might be well taken, IF the United States had a sensible, smart, compassionate and forward-looking approach to immigration as a whole. . .an approach that was thoughtfully developed and universally enforced. But since both parties have scandalously failed to institute such a policy for decades, it's a tad disingenuous--and probably counterproductive--to try to put a band aid on a failed approach to immigration via the public assistance route.