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EBT cards and free stuff

EBT cards and free stuff


By now you’ve probably heard about the EBT card breakdown during a power outage in which shoppers at a couple of Louisiana Walmarts purposely took advantage of the situation by “buying” a huge number of groceries for amounts that greatly exceeded their EBT limits in normal times.

You might say the Walmart managers were stupid not to ban the use of the cards for the duration of the problem, or limit the amount that could be charged on them. And if you said that, perhaps you’d be right. But perhaps they thought that if they did that they would face a riot, or at least some very bad PR, and so they decided to let people continue to use their cards freely (pun intended) and hope for the best.

As for the lawbreakers, we don’t know how big or small a percentage of the EBT-carrying population they represent. But it seems that quite a few cheaters happened to be in those Louisiana Walmarts that day. They stole from Walmart (if Walmart is left holding the bag) or from the taxpayers, or perhaps from both. Why did they feel they could and should do it?

I don’t profess to know all the reasons. Some of it is mob mentality, some greed. But some of it is a growing amorality that comes from the welfare system itself, and especially its more recent political manifestations (let’s soak the rich; they owe it to the rest of us to help us) that engenders the idea that it’s your right to get free stuff and have others foot the bill if you’re poor or even just somewhat poor. So, why not get more free stuff when you can?

For some people, it’s a slippery slope from one idea to the other. The payor is unseen and unknown in each case. The people who might be hurt by it are unseen and unknown as well. The mechanism is the same for each transaction: a card. And the venue is the same: Walmart.

[Neo-neocon is a writer with degrees in law and family therapy, who blogs at neo-neocon.]


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BannedbytheGuardian | October 16, 2013 at 5:28 pm

The Louisiana dept responsible for EBT already had a $50 emergency default In the system.

Therefore Walmart could have let $50 limit through & reconciled later.

It is a combination of stupid management class & stupid customers. They don’t have people of Walmart page for nothing.


I agree with both the riot and PR angles, but this is easy. Big ole WalMart, with their billions can afford it. And they don’t realize that their EBT money comes out of the pockets of their working neighbors, because it “comes from the government”. Progressives have succeeded at altering the language from “taxpayers” to “government” because the two are unrelated. See how easy it is?
This was nothing short of legalized looting.

    JackRussellTerrierist in reply to sybilll. | October 17, 2013 at 1:53 pm

    My understanding is that it was just two stores in LA alone. Why they chose to do this, who knows? But when the “lights came on” one big ol’ theiving sow was caught with over $700 worth of stuff with just $.49 in her EBT account. What’s interesting is that the cops were called but Walmart eventually said they wouldn’t press charges if she just left the food. That implies that Walmart considers these thieves culpable for their actions. If that’s the case, they never should have allowed the free-for-all in the first place.

    What needs to happen is that the people who got away with it need to have their card amounts reduced by a certain amount (say %25 of what they stole) each month for four months until it’s repaid. The stupid taxpayers who foolishly support this should pay the retailer. Walmart should grow a pair and set a firm policy of no more than $25 if EBT is down and institute a method of tracking so the thieves can’t make multiple $25 trips. With $25 they should be able to buy enough sugary and fatty foods to meet the daily requirement/desires for a family of eight.

If I had a retail store, I’d seriously think through whether I wanted to open myself up to this type of situation…dropping EBT makes a lot of sense, even with the threat of losing some business.

    JackRussellTerrierist in reply to princepsCO. | October 17, 2013 at 1:58 pm

    It’d be worth the loss of every penny to just keep the riff-raff out of the store.

    There’s a rumor that FL is considering leaving the EBT program altogether.

    This is a brilliant idea. Just think what would happen if all 50 states did this. 🙂 Darwinism works its magic.

JimMtnViewCaUSA | October 16, 2013 at 5:49 pm

Seen on another blog:
“When mothers were able to see their children on sonigrams, the appeal of a “choice” to kill that child in an abortion lost its appeal for a majority of people.
When you use the term taxes instead of revenues, support for tax increases collapses.
When you use the term spending instead of “investments,” support for spending increases or even current spending levels plunges.”

Clearly we need new, more positive words for “theft” and “irresponsibility”.

MouseTheLuckyDog | October 16, 2013 at 5:50 pm

Neocon you are wrong. It is not the growing amorality of the food stamp system. It’s the growing of everything.

” Why did they feel they could and should do it? ” Because they’re greedy pigs, because no one , no one, will confront them about their criminal behavior, and because there are many, many who will defend and justify these behaviours. Finally, those who could do something about it as well as those who defend and advocate for these behaviours don’t give a rats ass that it occurs because the money stolen isn’t theirs.
There is no valid reason that these people should be collecting a single dime, none. Detroit isn’t the cause, Detroit is the result of a population of these people inhabiting a city, being a cancer that drives responsible, productive taxpayers out. Detroit, St Louis, east LA, Camden, etc.
These folks should be stripped of the benefits taxpayers pay for them, and, left to fend for themselves.

    JackRussellTerrierist in reply to EdwdLny. | October 17, 2013 at 2:01 pm

    Cancer is right. If I could give you ten thumbs up, I would.

    But the list of cities goes on beyond those you’ve listed.

MouseTheLuckyDog | October 16, 2013 at 5:53 pm

Don’t they keep track of who spends how much?
Can’t they just dock the people who spent several times their limit?

    Ragspierre in reply to MouseTheLuckyDog. | October 16, 2013 at 6:05 pm

    Yes. Which is one of the few virtues of an EBT system.

    Now, whether anyone does a damn thing about that evidence is another matter.

    Just a FYI…decades ago, I heard a report that half the population of New Orleans was on food stamps. Dunno if that was gospel, but I can see it being true. And it would go far to explain why people sat on their stoops and watched Katrina come in.

    A few decades ago, I wrote an essay in which I said if I were a young black man, I would be hunting the people who had worked to strip me of my manhood…who had made me seem like an unnecessary accessory and a mere dependent on the State.

    But race doesn’t matter in that regard, except as an aggravating factor in developing an attitude of “entitlement”.

Those who rely most on government will be most injured when government fails them.

This is why I do my utmost to avoid any entanglements with government in any capacity. I still pay my city water bills, and pay my taxes, but I put that down to paying Caesar what is Caesar’s.

I weep inwardly at the destruction wrought by the “Good intentions” in the Great Society’s War on Poverty. As the Bible puts it, “There is a way which seems right to man, but it’s end is the way of death.”

I fear our country will not survive another 5 years of this mentality.

“The mechanism is the same for each transaction: a card. And the venue is the same: Walmart.”

And the people doing it are the same: Black.

    Anyone who would give you a thumbs down is just being PC … because to paraphrase Barry Goldwater … in your heart, you know I’m right.

It’s the “fair share” phenomenon promoted by the head of the collective.

This isn’t a whole lot different that what the democrats and many republicans do on a daily basis in DC. Hey.. let’s put “A” “B” and “C” in the old grocery cart and put it on our tab. Yeah, someone else is going to have to pay for it but it won’t be us.

“For some people, it’s a slippery slope from one idea to the other”

We chose Obama twice. It’s slippery slopes all the way down.

I’m looking at New Zealand and Australia.

I will never forget film of looting taking place after Katrina. The store was packed with the gentle populace of New Orleans stealing everything that was not nailed down.

In the midst of the chaos was one of the city’s finest, a police officer calmly pushing her shopping cart down the aisles taking everything in sight. She was not bothered in the least by the presence of the camera.

I’m starting to think this stealin’ stuff might be a cultural thing in Louisiana.

As soon as Walmart knew that the EBT cards weren’t showing limits they should have stop accepting them until they were working properly. How many of these thief’s showed up after receiving a message or phone call on their Obama Phones, the majority of them I imagine. “Hey, y’all best git down to Walmart, EBT cards ain’t showing limits! Me just got hundreds worth o’ shit!

Had Walmart stopped the EBT, they would have been accused of being raaaacist, and taking food out of the mouths of starving children–as if that is their fault and not the parents of the children.


    JackRussellTerrierist in reply to herm2416. | October 17, 2013 at 2:14 pm

    I’m really not so sure about that. Sure, the media would interview some 300 lb. “starving” black person who had to go two hours without a meal, but most rational people would just laugh. Further, the EBT was down altogether, not just Walmart – it was any grocery store, any store where EBT is accepted. None of them were taking any EBT at all. “Check back later, if you like.” If one of their charming patrons chimps out, you call the cops. That’s what those businesses pay local taxes for.

The truth of it is, we are now living in a banana republic.

The benefit system just right out delivers the message to the mob mentality –
E (Every) B (body) T (take)

    9thDistrictNeighbor in reply to Barbara. | October 17, 2013 at 8:32 am

    (E)lectronic (B)enefit (T)ransfer, which amounts to the same thing.

    The language has become so twisted….

If Obama and Elizabeth Warren mated and had children…..

These people are used to getting whatever they want for free anyways…this was just another day at “the office” aka Wal-mart.

NC Mountain Girl | October 17, 2013 at 1:09 am

Please remember this happened later in the evening on a Saturday. I can’t speak of shopping habits in small town Mississippi, but I often shop at the Super Wal-Mart in small town Waynesville, NC on Saturday evenings after anticipated Mass. Customer traffic is usually fairly light and the store is not fully manned. Therefore, I suspect the check out registers, customer service department and store security in Mississippi were simply overwhelmed by the sudden flood of looters.

Remember too that Mississippi has a reputation as a state in which juries can really stick it to businesses in tort claims. Had a looter been injured in a riot they probably would have sued Wal-mart – and won!

Management’s decision to accept the cards at probably eat the loss may have been the best option available.

    BannedbytheGuardian in reply to NC Mountain Girl. | October 17, 2013 at 6:32 am

    Except this was Louisiana & no idea what unique law they have on their books. There will be one somewhere .i am sure Napoleon thought about it after Haiti revolted.

    Always interesting that the first successful slave up risers went on to become the west’s poorest nation permanently.

    Some things don’t change.

Don’t forget that most Walmart employees are on welfare themselves.
I would not be surprised if the decision to allow this theft was made by people who expected to benefit themselves.

    NC Mountain Girl in reply to Exiliado. | October 17, 2013 at 7:08 am

    I believe the store managers on duty called corporate headquarters and the decision was made there. I’d have made the same call. It wasn’t worth risking riots at the stores involved.

    I’d also diligently use the store surveillance video and the debit card information to go after all of the looters. It would be interesting to see how fast the word of a few arrests got spread via Obamaphone.

      9thDistrictNeighbor in reply to NC Mountain Girl. | October 17, 2013 at 8:29 am

      I also read that corporate gave the okay…cost of doing business in a country that demonizes the company.

        I was thinking a similar thought – Democrats and the media routinely demonize Walmart. Not big box retailers generally, but Walmart specifically. I can imagine that the people doing the looting (and yes, I think we can call it that) felt that it was okay, because it was Walmart.

      thorleywinston in reply to NC Mountain Girl. | October 17, 2013 at 11:35 am

      I would also be willing to bet someone at corporate talked to legal and asked about their potential exposure to a lawsuit (either from a private plaintiff or an Attorney General looking to run for governor someday) if they disallowed the EBT purchases. I’m not familiar with the specific conditions imposed on merchants by the EBT program but it would not surprise me if this fell into a legal “grey” area that Wal-Mart figured it would be more expensive to litigate then to temporarily allow people to walk off with a bunch of merchandise that Wal-Mart will probably never get paid for.

        I was going to make this point. Somewhere I bet there’s a law that REQUIRES retailers who accept EBT cards at all to take them for all purchases unless the system rejects them.

        Since the system wasn’t rejecting them, the retailer must assume they are good.

        Even if they know they’re not.

      JackRussellTerrierist in reply to NC Mountain Girl. | October 17, 2013 at 2:30 pm

      Unless Wallyworld gets the $ from the EBT program, they aren’t getting paid. Walmart has no viable recourse because you can’t get money from a low-life ghetto rat no matter what method you pursue.

      The thing to have done was put up huge signage right at the entrances and in the parking lot indicating that the federal EBT system was down and they are temporarily unable to accept EBT. That’s what other stores did and they had little or no problems. People didn’t even bother to get out of their Escalades, not even the ones with the 24″ rims. This also would have served as a nice invitation for paying shoppers to be able to shop in peace for a change. 🙂

It’s not like system failures are unheard of. When I worked at a major bookstore years ago, one afternoon we were informed that the American Express system wasn’t working. The thing that made it even worse is that all of our gift cards were done through AmEx. We ended up with the situation where people with AmEx cards and our gift cards all showed no balance. Whatever the deal was, AmEx instructed us to accept all cards – that they would catch up with the charges, and if there happened to be people who went over their gift card caps, they would reimburse us the difference. I know it’s a much smaller scale, but we certainly didn’t have a run on our registers that night because most people – well, those who have been raised with any type of morality in any case – don’t participate in this type of behavior.

The loss of profit on merchandise was peanuts compared to the PR losses from a videotaped, widely reported riot had Walmart employees tried to stop the rush.

    JackRussellTerrierist in reply to Henry Hawkins. | October 17, 2013 at 2:36 pm

    If they’d just said, “Sorry, no EBT right now” there would have been no rush. If the …uh…….”folks” had rioted, that’s what you call the cops for. Actually, when you’re Wallyworld and you learn about this problem, you call the cops in advance to put them on notice so they can prepare.

    If the store is in an almost all-EBT neighborhood, just close the damn store for several hours.

    JackRussellTerrierist in reply to Henry Hawkins. | October 17, 2013 at 2:44 pm

    One other thing…..this happened at two stores only. The EBT outage affected all retailers that take the card in I believe it was 17 states. Why would these two particular stores in these small towns be so radically affected by imposing the limit when, say, a Walmart or Food Lion or Publix in Biloxi, Aurora, Denver, Milwaukee, Little Rock, Seattle or Atlanta are NOT doing this and had no meaningful trouble?

[…] EBT cards and free stuff By now you’ve probably heard about the EBT card breakdown during a power outage in which shoppers at a couple of Louisiana Walmarts purposely took advantage of the situation by “buying” a huge number of groceries for amounts that greatly exceeded their EBT limits in normal times. […]