Illustration by Tony Dubovsky OBSERVER A Journal of Free Voices A Window to the South April 14, 1972 250 Welfare pays Perot’s dues Any man born in the United States of America is twice-blessed. And he is thrice-blessed if born in Texas. H. Ross Perot at the Texas Capitol, Feb. 12, 1971 Austin H. Ross Perot is a human dynamo. A self-starter, a go-getter and one heck of a swell fellow all rolled up into one. Why he’s even given $2 million of his own personal money to the Boy Scouts of America. You couldn’t find a better hero for a. capitalist fairy tale if you searched every oil rig and anhydrous ammonia tank from the Red River to the’ Rio Grande. Ross Perot was the champion paper boy of Texarkana, Texas. He went on to be a model Naval officer, the most successful computer salesman in the history of IBM and, 0 American Dream; a billionaire before he was 40. THE ROSS PEROT story began, as far as the newspapers and the Republican administration are concerned, when he launched his “Tell It to Hanoi” campaign in 1969. He may not have convinced the North Vietnamese to release a single prisoner of war, but he managed to swing the public’s disillusionment with the war to the less domestically volatile issue of bringing the prisoners back home. And America loved him for it. “H. Ross Perot pays his dues,” Fred Powledge wrote in the New York Times Magazine, a year ago February. The Times fawned over the fact that he dipped into his hard-earned billion to boost the POW effort and that he spent millions on the scouts and on poorly educated blacks in his hometown of Dallas. But it wasn’t until Ramparts printed “H. Ross Perot: America’s First Welfare Billionaire” that a journalist bothered to ask the crucial question: Where did he get the money to buy all those pretty packages he never got to deliver to the prisoners of war? Ramparts writer Robert Finch \(Oct., processing firm, Electronic Data Systems, had been profiteering with federal welfare funds in California. While Ramparts was raking EDS muck in California, the In tergovernmental Relations Subcommittee of the House Committee on Government Operations was doing an even more thorough job in D.C. The Washington hearings concentrated mainly on Perot’s dealings with Texas Blue Cross-Blue Shield. We may never know how Perot justified the fees he has been knocking down for data processing services in ten state medicare-medicaid programs. He was questioned in executive session, a courtesy not often extended to private citizens. Four later hearings were held in :public, however, and the transcripts from the sessions reveal that Perot did some pretty slick numbers to get the money to pay his dues. Nothing illegal, of course, nothing as gross and blatant as stealing a welfare mother’s food stamps. The story gets very complicated, but in a nutshell: Ross Perot used federal tax money to develop a data processing system; he used good old capitalist knowhow to draw up a
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The Texas Rangers are tasked with investigating corruption and crimes by public officials. Those officials are rarely held accountable.