Tanner Andrews mug

Tanner Andrews

It used to be that stealing was looked down on. An old adage, “thou shalt not steal,” circulated amongst the rustic. In Florida, you could take someone’s produce or loaf of bread, and go to prison.

With Gov. Scott’s previous job having been Medicare fraud with Columbia/HCA, that view has gone out of style.

Modern technology makes stealing much more lucrative than back in the day. And Rick Scott has technology to feign lack of involvement: He moved again, this time to Washington!

With modern technology, we are no longer remitted to robbing stagecoaches. That was hot, dangerous and dusty work.

Modern crooks employ artifices, general deception or outright lies, to convince people to hand over money in ways they never would if they knew the truth.

Billion-dollar Medicare frauds may get the news coverage, but frankly, those opportunities are rare. Conventional fraud is much more common, if less lucrative. Still, when you do enough, it can add up. Just look at the state’s “J-Pay” scam.

Over the past few years, the state sold the prisoners goodies, such as music players that can only play music from a single vendor. The vendor typically charged 50 percent over market for the music, since they had what is termed a “captive audience.”

There is not a whole lot to do in prison. The state does not even pretend rehabilitation, leaving prisoners little or no opportunity to improve themselves. That means that music and such books as pass muster by the prison authorities are about all the prisoners have to fill the days.

Toward the end of FY 2017-18, a different prison vendor was deemed more generous. So, the state decided that the old music players they had sold would have to be taken back from the prisoners who paid for them. Also, the music.

But hey, guys, thanks for the money!

The state feels pretty clever. Not only did it convince prisoners to part with their money, but it also got a nice rake-off as well. Here in the outside world, convincing someone to give you money by lying to them would be deemed stealing.

When the state does it, it is simply priming the pump for the Scott-for-Senate campaign. As for those stodgy old commandments, well, you know what Gov. (now Sen.) Scott was thinking — they will be as unpopular in Washington as in Tallahassee.

— Andrews is a DeLand-area attorney and a longtime government critic. For purposes of the column, he finds it convenient that there is so much government to criticize.