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Sunday, Aug. 28, 2016

'Free' money proves costly to taxpayers

Wednesday, May 28, 2003

Did you read about the 111,000 New York City residents who received $1,500 each to replace their window air conditioning units because of the potential for asbestos-tainting from the Sept. 11 tragedy? Well if you haven't read about it, try to avoid it. It will simply leave a bad taste in your mouth and leave you scratching your head over the greed and insanity of far too many in our society.

It would be easy to say that this level of scam could occur only in New York City. But that would clearly be wrong because I believe the same thing would have taken place virtually anywhere these days.

Here's how the story goes. Following the Sept. 11 tragedy, federal officials discovered minute percentages of asbestos in some of the clouds of dust and debris that covered the Manhattan area. So ever-fearful of asbestos, the feds set aside $15 million to help people clear their homes of any potential health hazard. But in their haste to rush money to New York, the regulations to quality for $1,500 in new air conditioning was made available to just about anyone living in New York City. So thus far, 111,000 city residents have applied for and received their federal money to replace window air conditioning units. And the price of the program now stands at $100 million and counting.

Officials acknowledge that thousands of those residents weren't actually harmed by the dust but because the regulations were written in haste, they qualified nonetheless. And human nature being what it is these days, the lines for that "free" federal money began to form.

I hope that everyone trying to get a quick buck at the expense of Sept. 11 goes to hell. I could care less. And the feds who allowed this waste of taxpayer money should be on the streets looking for a job. Neither of my wishes is likely to happen however.

Now, of course, you have air conditioning salespeople actively recruiting city residents to get their "free" money. That's not surprising either.

What does surprise me unfortunately is that we have reached a point where we "accept" this behavior. We are virtually immune anymore to any action taken by humanity that is so patently wrong. Far too many people believe they are "owed" something by somebody when, in fact, they are owed nothing.

People who benefit from the tragedy of others will surely occupy a special seat in the afterlife. I can only hope they pay some price for preying on the misfortunes of others. And if I had my way, the price they would pay would be appropriate - that air conditioning would really come in handy.

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