Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Social Insurance, Eh?

We trust that Paul Krugman and the other die-hard Social Security defenders will be delighted to know the program makes possible the existence of the polygamous communities of Colorado City, Arizona and Hildale, Utah:

Gideon Barlow, a castoff from a polygamous community on the Utah-Arizona border is trying to reshape his own.

And he's grappling with the trials of a conventional life, worrying about not betraying his old parents while trying to please his new ones - Stacha and Neil Glauser, who took him in last August.

....Barlow - the son of polygamist Dan Barlow, banished from the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in January 2004 - is one of dozens of a group known as the Lost Boys, who have fled or been kicked out of the polygamous communities of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz.

...Their plight became more public in the past year as former followers of FLDS leader Warren Jeffs began to speak out about his harsh rule.

Barlow's story shot to prominence last week during a town meeting on polygamy in St. George, when the Glausers publicly questioned how his 73-year-old father could draw money intended to help minor children. Arizona county and state agencies this week began investigating the allegations.

....a woman who helps teens displaced from the twin cities put him in touch with the Glausers, who agreed to take him in.

Stacha Glauser recalled her astonishment when Barlow's parents willingly relinquished their son.

"It was just not that big a deal," she said.

....But the elder Barlow continued to use his son to claim government benefits, drawing Social Security funds in his name. The Glausers found that out in November, when they had Barlow apply for a Medicaid card so he could get health and dental care.

Social Security allows retirement age people, such as Dan Barlow, to collect a stipend to help support children ages 16 or younger who still live at home. They're supposed to file reports explaining how the money is used.

In addition to Barlow, Dan Barlow has at least eight minor children living with their mothers in Colorado City. It's not known whether he has collected Social Security funds on their behalf.
Delia Lasanta, the Denver-based regional communications director for the Social Security Administration, said the elder Barlow's actions amounted to fraud.

Armed with that, Barlow confronted his father. But Dan Barlow refused to hand over any money, saying he needed it to pay off credit cards. Finally he relented, and since November has given Barlow $200 a month.

Not only that, but the public schools are something of a cash cow for the Mormons:

Lawmakers approved a bill giving the state power to take over any Arizona school district that "grossly mismanages" its money, and state officials said their first target would be the financially crippled Colorado City Unified District.

In October, the attorney general found himself powerless to shut down Colorado City Unified after the district began bouncing teacher paychecks despite buying its own airplane.

One word: Waco.

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