Food Stamp Abuse Shows Perils of 'Big Government' Number of recipients surging, along with fraud: James Bovard By John Johnson, Newser Staff Posted Jun 23, 2011 12:58 PM CDT 64 comments Comments In this photo taken Feb. 6, 2010, a sign announcing the acceptance of electronic Benefit Transfer cards is seen at a farmers' market in Roseville, Calif. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli) (Newser) – The number of people on food stamps has risen from 26 million to 44 million since 2007, and abuse of the system is running unchecked, writes James Bovard at the Wall Street Journal. The federal government is more interested in getting people signed up than helping states curb fraud, he writes. New "paperwork reduction" rules at the USDA and similar changes "are turning the food-stamp program into a magnet for abuses and absurdities." Bovard mostly blames President Obama but also tags George W. Bush for pushing a big expansion of his own. He rounds up a string of high-profile abuses and complains that even the rich can skirt the rules to qualify. But his main point comes near the end: "The explosion in the number of food-stamp recipients tilts the political playing field in favor of big government," he writes. "The more people who become government dependents, the more likely that democracy will become a conspiracy against self-reliance."