EBT System Glitch Shows Welfare Myths Just Won’t Die

nytimes_welfare_queenAaron Cynic writes at Diatribe Media:

Glitches in the Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) system caused major problems for recipients of food stamps over the weekend in 17 states. The problems began on Saturday when Xerox, the company responsible for running the system, experienced “technical difficulties” during a “routine test” of its backup systems. In some cases, EBT beneficiaries were unable to use their cards. In others, the spending limit on the cards was removed, allowing EBT users to purchase as much as they wanted.

As typical with any big breaking news story, the internet was flooded with comments and conversation about the matter, and much of the storm was filled with anger at people who receive any kind of government assistance in getting food at all. It seems that the Reagan era myth of the “welfare queen” still lives and breathes along with many other myths about food stamps in America. Sadly, it seems many folks get their information about poverty from John Galt’s ghost. With that in mind, here’s a look at some of the top myths about food stamps in America:

1) No one receiving food stamps has a job. The myth that all food stamp recipients are unemployed, lazy and/or don’t want to work is probably the most pervasive of all myths. As of 2010 however, 41% of Americans on food stamps lived in households with earnings. According to a report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, thanks to high unemployment rates and the recession, having a job hasn’t been enough to keep families out of poverty. Thanks to major corporations like Walmart (America’s largest private sector employer) keeping wages and hours down for employees, many are forced to turn to food stamps to provide for their families.

2) Federal spending on food stamps is out of control, and recipients get a “free ride” off the money from taxpayers. Funding for SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) in FY2012 was nearly $80 billion. While that’s a huge chunk of change, it’s still small potatoes compared to the full federal budget, which crested $3 trillion. The part of the pie cut out for SNAP spending comes under “safety net programs,” which amounts to $412 billion, or 12 percent of the federal budget. Food stamp spending makes up about 1/5th of that 12 percent, with programs like refundable portions of the earned income tax credit, child care assistance, low income housing assistance and more. Meanwhile, the bulk of the budget still goes to the Defense Department, Social Security and Medicaid. Additionally, major corporations continue to go unnoticed as some of the biggest federal welfare recipients. The federal Joint Committee on Taxation estimates corporations could receive some $154 billion in special tax breaks in 2013, nearly twice what the government spends on food for its most vulnerable citizens.

Read the full post at Diatribe Media.

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  • Anarchy Pony

    You would not believe how many people out there on food stamps are constantly purchasing lobster and vodka!

    • Ramlih Malcowitz

      You’re exactly right we wouldn’t believe it, because you’re full of shit!
      Brony.

    • Ken_A1

      How many, exactly? A percentage figure will suffice.

      Be sure to include a reliable source for the research as well.

      • Simon Valentine

        i assume rations of ridicule are to be amply applied as sarcasm to “reliable”.

        and here i thought “reliable source for research” was Latin for “go to hell English dog! i cover the tree cover with piss!”.

        oh, percentage as an errant statistical mumble really just reinforces the sarcastic effect of what you say. otherwise: L2Bluff

        • Rhoid Rager

          Nice uroboros dracu!

      • Conspiracy Carrot

        sar·casm
        ˈsärˌkazəm/
        noun
        noun: sarcasm; plural noun: sarcasms
        1.
        the use of irony to mock or convey contempt.

        • Ken_A1

          fail-ure
          noun
          1. the absence of success
          ex. when “sarcasm” is presented without sufficient indicators in a medium noted by its abundance of similar, absolutely sincere remarks.

          • Simon Valentine

            failure: assuming that there is any input or output connected to text other than, oh, say, the f*cking grapheme, without actually having considered the relativistic effects of failure due to social morpheme inadequacy in both a personal and non-personal case.

        • Ken_A1

          Strangely, the immediate influx of anecdotal comments doesn’t exactly shore up the natural assumption that the OP is implicitly sarcastic.

          • Simon Valentine

            and what? therefore you know that none of us know that anarchy pony, a regular presence around here, isn’t actual fun, sarcastic or not?

          • Anarchy Pony

            I’m not fun? Well fuck, why the hell am I sticking around this joint?

          • Simon Valentine

            you can’t trick me
            you’re anarchy
            wait
            shit…

          • Anarchy Pony

            Oh, I was. I figured more people got it. Apparently not.

          • Ken_A1

            I didn’t. It’s my mistake, but I will remind everyone of Poe’s Law.

            As a point of fact, there has been legislation to mitigate the alleged abuses of EBT. Here in Michigan, college students were banned a couple years ago from the EBT program. This was in response to complaints from legislators–entirely anecdotal–that college students were blowing their EBT money on booze.

            No actual investigation went into determining whether or not these allegations were reliable. And college students, many of whom genuinely need the funds and are not buying groceries with their parents’ credit carts, were disproportionately punished because irate citizens hate that their money might be used to help somebody else eat.

          • Simon Valentine

            i knew there was something to be glad about

            you’re firing in the same direction!

            :O

            *edit*
            upon a rather rescinding notion
            shall we say blue shift
            it seems indeed that legit students should have induction rather than support? it’s like giving a meal to a kid who works in a sweat shop making 100, 1000, or 10^n meals for people who “may or may not be in cahoots with so-and-so” system system blah blah

            i wanna hear you go off some more
            to what extent do you consider, ken?

            *edit*
            in case someone can’t read through…
            meal to student = money to college
            it seems a proper analysis is at least NP-complete, does it not?

          • Victoria PC Sellwood

            You can’t buy alcohol or cigarettes with food stamps.

          • Bluebird_of_Fastidiousness

            Can you buy juice and yeast packets? I will game this system if it’s the last thing I do.

    • annoying you

      you’re right, i wouldn’t.

    • BuzzCoastin

      vodka is verboten
      but caviar & lobster are ok
      but I suspect most food stamps are spent
      on Homeland subsidized GMO corn

      60% of the aMerkin diet is GMO corn
      and Uncle Homeland doesn’t scrimp on subsidies for the rich

      • Victoria PC Sellwood

        You can NOT purchase any alcoholic beverages with food stamps. Get your facts straight before running off at the mouth. As far as lobster goes, so what. It’s food. If they chose to spend it on lobster, they just spend their benefits that much faster. Not that many people actually do that though.

        • VaudeVillain

          “Verboten” is German for “forbidden, disallowed”… so saying “vodka is verboten” literally means “vodka is not allowed”. Well, as literally as you can mean anything when you’re fabricating a pidgin for the purpose of snark.

        • Hoarfraust

          I’m pretty sure Anarchy’s comments were tongue-in-cheek. On the interwebs, always assume a tone of deep sarcasm. =D

    • kowalityjesus

      I can almost always tell when someone comes to the register and will be using food stamps. They spend money like it isn’t theirs: on copious little bags of doritos, potato chips, gum and expensive candy. Opulent buyers of junk are probably (hopefully) a smallish minority of the people using food stamps (because I don’t work at an actual grocery store). We should be granting tax money to keep people from starving, not to give them a treat. But judging by how much the corporation I work for is making from it, and how gaily spendthrift the recipients are, we won’t be seeing legislation to mitigate this kind of abuse anytime soon. (And really, as far as govt waste is concerned, this is a small sin compared to the insidious and parasitic MIBC).

      • Conspiracy Carrot

        I agree. While working at a gas station for a few months last year (after losing my real job) I was amazed by how many people are actually on food stamps nowadays AND by the kind of garbage they’re able to buy with them. In my opinion you shouldn’t be able to buy Slush Puppies and donuts with food stamps. Even if you are shopping at a gas station out of convenience, there are plenty of healthier food choices available.

        • Anarchy Pony

          Suppliers of shitty food would be none to happy if their primary customer base (the poor) were suddenly verboten from purchasing from them.

          • Conspiracy Carrot

            I can’t disagree. And I’m sure the suppliers of shitty food are in bed with providers of shitty healthcare.

        • Bluebird_of_Fastidiousness

          It must be nice to have options as to where to buy food.

          • Conspiracy Carrot

            Nice assumption. You have no goddamn idea about me. I’m broker than broke, thank you very much. I don’t have many options. But I have made poor eating decisions and and I have made good ones. A can of soup vs. a bag of chips. A bottle of juice vs. a Slurpee. Even if you can’t get to a Whole Foods (I have never even been in one) or a decent grocery store, a person can find healthier alternatives for the same price as a bag of donuts. Get off your high horse.

          • Bluebird_of_Fastidiousness

            Eating well in this day and age is profoundly difficult. To watch others squander the opportunity must be frustrating for someone who struggles. In my experience, most people are doing the best they can with what they have, where they are, when they can. In this age of dis-empowerment it’s a wonder any of us are still breathing. Have you considered a worker share at a local farm? We do those sometimes. It’s a good way to connect with your food.

      • Bluebird_of_Fastidiousness

        It’s like when Jesus charged admission to the miracle of the loaves and fish. He made a killing that day.

        • kowalityjesus

          Manna from heaven is not M&Ms. People should spend their own money on luxury items, and that should be true of all socio-economic levels of our society.

          • Rhoid Rager

            So something that belongs to us is going to someone else? And that’s a problem somehow? Isn’t that how everything works all the time? We’re always getting something from someone/something else; whether it be air, ideas, shade, candy or beer…money doesn’t measure everything, despite the money masters’ aspirations. If some people get an unsuitable amount (whatever that may mean to anyone), then a stink will be kicked up; but, I don’t think laying down objective moral laws about who deserves what and when solves anything. Society is more dynamic than that type of moral you’re espousing. Just my perspective….

          • kowalityjesus

            Did you notice that in my statements, I explicitly did not argue against food stamps as an institution? I am PRO food stamps, because they are a great way to support the most indigent part of our society. I am pissed when well-dressed people come in and buy expensive junk food with them. It happens where I work a lot. The manufacturers, the retailers, and the recipients lobby/vote to keep this ‘disbursed-cost, concentrated-benefit’ gravy train moving. Like I said, it is a small sin, but waste and corruption justifies/begets waste and corruption elsewhere, and I will decry it whenever I see it!

          • Bluebird_of_Fastidiousness

            I think there is more to the shiftless system abusing stereotype than character flaws and regulatory inadequacy. People tend to ignore profound problems like food deserts (grocery stores in the ghetto are usually liquor stores that happen to also sell chips), food illiteracy (while volunteering at a food pantry for several hours I watched NO ONE pick up a fresh organic pineapple for free the entire time), and the vicious cycle of eating shit and feeling like shit (which never makes me, personally, feel like cooking a healthy meal).

      • Victoria PC Sellwood

        So what! If they want snacks instead of healthy food, that is their business. Now that they have an EBT card, most of the time you don’t even know if they are using food stamps or not.

    • http://www.zoboprepublic.wordpress.com/ zobop republic

      @Anarchy Pony: People on Food Stamps are not suppose to be able to buy liquor. If they can but it, then somebody is breaking the law/rules. Some business owner needs to go to jail!

  • ****

    I’ve had to use food stamps before (while I had a job that magically would not cover all expenses with minimum wage @ 50 hours per week), and I can tell you without a doubt that welfare queens do exist. I understand that these assholes have racist motives and absolutely zero empathy for the working class, but on this single point they are right, no matter how much I hate to admit it.

  • BuzzCoastin

    anyone who begrudges food stamp recipients their pittance
    ought to consider the welfare program for corporations & their elites
    but they can’t
    because they’ve never heard of a SEC 10K form
    or an Irish/Dutch Sandwich
    and they don’t really care about the elites on welfare
    because no one told them to care

    • Simon Valentine

      stirring the kettle with proportion’s lies
      so clearly the witch country requires heat
      that they may add fries to every pot

      need to learn to hate and hold it, the young do
      en masse

  • InfvoCuernos

    Somebody needs to lose their job over this one.

    • Simon Valentine

      recalibrating draconian system…
      loading…
      please wait…

      system is now recalibrated to “job”

      (idly checks watch)

      time for a shower

  • Brian C Nielsen

    I don’t understand why people who pay taxes complain about where their tax money goes. They have no choice in the matter. The only solution is not to pay your taxes, which in turn will turn you into a tax burden.

    • Simon Valentine

      yeah, because there would be no other way roads and cities would be repaired, because this isn’t sarcasm, because donuts. in fact, life can’t exist without taxes, and there was no life on earth until the tax meteor fell.

      >.<3

      • Cortacespedes

        I wouldn’t say “life” exactly, but perhaps “civilization”. When the “tax meteor” fell, a mania swept throughout a certain order of simian, which directed them to till the land for a lord (OT), to build walls, roads, form armies, live in cities and eventually create pyramids.

        Without taxes, how could we behold the “miracle” that is bureaucracy?

        • Simon Valentine

          simulation, on a different iteration of World, in dramedy, etc.

          exacticacly what is it you are saying?
          of what phylum? and why drop from kingdom?
          i sense talk of the “xel’naga”.

          why does a “food chain” (web, graph, whathaveyou) distributed throughout biomass contain so much of a copy of itself within one species? are we a genus zero object of the “Klaatu barada nikto”?

          where does the data go, hey ho hey ho
          oh where does the data go
          the black hole is so hungry now
          tell us where does the data go

          • Cortacespedes

            Data flow. Dead Sea. Entropy. Dispersion. Condensation. (R&R.)

            Because cinnamon buns.

        • Bluebird_of_Fastidiousness

          Civilization is VASTLY overrated.

  • Jonas Planck

    Why is it that ‘Murkans only demand control of their taxes’ use when it involves food or contraception? Everything else, they give the state free reign to spend “their” money however it pleases… on wars, domestic spying, subsidies for millionaires, sweetheart deals for inept contractors, privatizing public resources, huge rewards for failed banks, you name it… but for some reason the only thing that pisses them off enough to be fiercely vocal about it is when people are allowed to EAT FOOD. If that’s not a sign of skewed priorities and mental illness, I don’t know what is.

    • Simon Valentine

      workers work to get their work back from the non working work capacitors because exponents. glad to see you around again mr. planck.

  • Victoria PC Sellwood

    Didn’t anyone realize that there was something wrong that day? Has there ever been a time in history where this has happened. The managers should have found out what was going on asap and do something about it.

  • gurgh

    I often think what would happen if the poor did exactly what the wealthy told them to in order to ‘fix’ their problems and how it would completely wreck a large percentage of the economy. Say low income people aim to buy only the cheapest, healthiest food – no sweet stuff, no McDonalds, no fructose-corn-syrup-whatever-the-hell-drinks-are available… in addition the poor swear off Reality & junk TV, maybe buying themselves a cheap ereader and downloading a ton of free content from Gutenberg etc… cable TV cancelled, lottery & gambling sworn off, gossip mags unbought. They could spend their free time reading the world’s great literature, getting exercise from walking about (& work as most have jobs) & ignoring the media tat that eats up so much of our time. They’d be able to make use of free public amenities such as library internet & parks while perhaps attending the odd gratis concert or lecture… meanwhile the unemployed with slightly more free time would be able to self-learn many skills, from improving basic literacy and numeracy to more complicated but still accessible subjects (i.e. computer programming).

    After a year or so the poor are healthier, thinner, better-educated and immune to most marketing and ads due to the development of monk-like self-discipline. Meanwhile the successful middle-classes are being laid off by the tens of thousands as sales of junk food, gambling products, rubbish TV, alcohol, cigs, computer games and the like decline by a significant amount.

    What would happen in such a scenario? Would the wealthy be falling over themselves to give work to this newly-enfranchised proletariat?

    I don’t think so. I think what they’d do is say ‘See, the poor get too much money, they can afford to sit round reading all day while chilling at the park. People who work don’t have that luxury!’, followed by a demand for welfare cuts and the money saved being given to multinationals so they could ‘cope’ with economic decline.

    So the poor would end up even worse off only now accompanied by several million former middle-class and the rich would be in the same place they ever were…

    Guess what I’m trying to say is the overclass have us by the balls & its really rather difficult to make progress without being crushed. Should also note that I know most poor people don’t have much money to spend on crap but a) their small amounts x millions still equals an enviable chunk of cash and b) Companies know this which is why they aim most of their marketing campaigns at people on low incomes.

    We need more jobs with decent incomes (as well as a working safety-net) & people will be able to fix most of their own problems. After all if being an alcoholic or drug user was the only reason people are poor then Hollywood & the music industry would have collapsed decades ago; and Rush Limbaugh would be unemployable & hanging round on the streets offering BJs for cash.

  • http://joenolan.com/blog Joe Nolan

    “ghost of John Galt” very nice :)

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