Thin Smith

Ohen I think about how our state is governed, it rarely brings up biblical parallels (other than the plagues of Egypt found in the book of Genesis, of course).

But as new developments emerge in Mississippi’s social fraud saga (an audit found that $77 million in welfare funds was being directed to well-connected people for purposes unrelated to helping the poor), I return again to the scriptures, especially 2 Samuel, chapter 2.

To jog your memory, the chapter begins after King David sent one of his soldiers to the front lines where he was certain to be killed, thus concealing the king’s affair with the soldier’s wife, Bathsheba, whom he would later marry.

“Not cool,” said the prophet Nathan, confronting the king with a parable.

Paraphrase:

There were two men in a certain town, one rich, the other poor. The rich man had a large flock of sheep. The poor man had only one little lamb, which he treated like a member of the family. One day another big shot came to visit the rich man. Rather than choosing a lamb from his large flock to prepare a feast for his visitor, the rich man stole the poor man’s only lamb and used it for the feast instead.

That’s pretty much the whole Mississippi welfare scandal boiled down to a few verses of scripture.

Often, as new information emerges, analogies like this begin to fall apart.

In this case, however, it becomes more insightful, more relevant, with each new chapter in this sordid story.

The most recent development came when Tupelo attorney Jim Waide, who is representing one of the defendants in the case, said Governor Tate Reeves may be complicit in the scandal for using his influence to lead 1.1 million dollars in social funds towards fitness trainer Paul Lacoste. Waide said Reeve’s firing of Brad Pigott, the attorney hired to investigate the scandal, was also an attempt to protect some of the governor’s wealthy donors on the University of Southern Mississippi Foundation Board.

When Pigott expanded the investigation to find out how the USM Foundation obtained $5 million in social funds to build a new volleyball facility at the university, he was summarily fired and the law firm Jones Walker sued. been hired at a rate 500 times the amount prepared by the state. pay Pigott for his services. You get what you pay for, and in this case, you probably get exactly what you pay for.

Over the years, members of the USM Foundation have donated huge amounts of money to Reeves’ campaign. If USM needed a $5 million volleyball facility, these members could have easily funded it out of their own pockets.

It would be silly, of course, when the poor man’s lamb is there to be taken.

So who really are the wellness queens in our state?

Is it the single mom who gets a few hundred dollars a month to help keep her lights on?

Or is it Reeves’ wealthy political cronies?

The $5 million that went to the USM Foundation is the largest chunk of diverted welfare money provided to a single source. Efforts to shield those responsible from the most egregious act of immeasurable greed speaks volumes about how our state does business.

Eventually, a few sacrificial lambs will be led to the slaughterhouse. But the big boys, including perhaps the one who now occupies the governor’s mansion, will likely escape the scrutiny of the inquest.

To follow up on the biblical story, when King David heard of the rich man’s greed, initially not realizing that he himself was the subject of the story, he immediately angry with the rich man.

King Tate is mad too.

Only he is angry with Nathan, slamming the news report that exposed his role in the sordid affair.

The only real hope for a thorough investigation that holds all parties accountable is for the Department of Justice to take full control.

Unless and until that happens, it is likely that many of the culprits will continue to feast on the poor man’s lamb.

But, really, what else is new? This is Mississippi we’re talking about here, after all.

Slim Smith is a columnist and editor for The Dispatch. His email address is [email protected]

Slim Smith is a columnist and editor for The Dispatch. His email address is [email protected]

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