Monday, July 2, 2012

Blood, Boiling.

(image courtesy of Robb Allen)

Yankeefried sends this story that's certain to send you running for more blood pressure medication:

Firing squad ends clerk’s EBT stand
Jackie Whiton, age 65, had worked as a cashier at the Big Apple convenience store in Peterborough, N.H., for years. But then a couple of weeks ago she committed a firing offense.

She refused to allow a welfare recipient to use his EBT card to buy a pack of smokes.

How dare a taxpayer say no to a member of the non-working class? This is verboten in Obama’s America.

Now, a couple of points:

1. The store had every right to fire the clerk. They received a complaint that she refused a legal sale, they have every right to terminate her employment. Because it is legal to buy cigarettes with an EBT card doesn't make it right, but her job is only to make legal sales.

2. While the store has every right to fire the clerk, I - meaning those of us in the media - have every right to broadcast far and wide about this injustice. This clerk should have gotten a bonus rather than a pink slip - she was outraged (as am I) that someone can use a card given to them as a form of welfare to purchase something as frivolous as cigarettes.

Oh, BTW? Should you feel the need to contact Big Apple convenience store management about this egregious miscarriage justice, there is a contact form that can be used, or you can contact them via phone, fax, or USPS:

C.N. Brown Company
P.O. Box 200,
South Paris, Maine 04281

Office: 207-743-9212
Fax: 207-743-8357

If you're going to write, call, or fax, please be courteous and proper - no F-bombs, please, nor threats. Explain to them why you disagree with their decision to terminate Mrs. Whiton, and that you will not be patronizing their stores unless and until they correct their error.

Now, with that said, can *anyone* tell me why it's legal for someone to buy cigarettes with an EBT card? For those unclear on what they are, here's some basic information.
  • EBT is used in all states to issue food stamp benefits to recipients.
  • Many states also issue cash benefits such as TANF using EBT.
(TANF is Temporary Assistance for Needy Families). So there are two forms of EBT cards - a "food stamp" card that only allows the holder to buy food, and a "cash benefits" card that allows them to buy... anything. Unless unemployment benefits go to EBT cards, I can't see any other reason for an able-bodied young person to have such a card - although there may be something I'm overlooking at the moment. It's still a big stretch to authorize usage for cigarettes - especially considering how the .gov is always telling us how bad cigarettes are for us.

Then again, how silly am I, expecting consistency from our government...

That is all.


Ancient Woodsman said...

Think buying smokes with an EBT is bad?

Our local Shaw's has a few signs in the store near the seafood counter and by the registers: "You cannot use an EBT to buy pre-cooked lobster. You may use an EBT to buy live lobster."

That one gets my blood pressure up every time.

Ruth said...

What gets me, it may be legal to buy cigs with an EBT (which I don't like at all yes), but originally he was providing the EBT as a form of ID, I'm sure he was going to pay with it TOO, but

"Jackie Whiton handed them to him but asked for his ID. He handed her his EBT card."

At least here in NY state an EBT card is not a legal form of ID. If I'm required to request ID for any reason an EBT card is not a legal form of such. Can't swear NH looks at it differently, but...

JD Rush said...

It is "x"ism if you restrict the free money. The government can't tell people how to spend their free money. Now pay up for not buying insurance.

Comrade Misfit said...

EBT cards are used in some states for unemployment benefits if the recipient doesn't desire direct deposit.

Bubblehead Les. said...

Silly Jay. When the Roman Senate says that there shall be Free Bread and Circuses for the Plebes as long as they Vote to keep the Senators in Power, then some lowly Clerk should have known that they'd be next up at the Sunday Lion Feed in the Coliseum if they tried to thwart the Will of the Senate.

Armed Texan said...

If you are on government assistance, you should not be buying booze or smokes period. When you sign up for some welfare program, you are claiming that you are too poor to pay for the basic necessities of life. If you subsequently go and buy luxury items such as alcohol or cigarettes, then you have lied to us. Using an EBT card just made it obvious that he was bilking us tax payers.

Anonymous said...

"You cannot use an EBT to buy pre-cooked lobster. You may use an EBT to buy live lobster."

A local store has a sign up that if you want pizza, and want to pay with EBT, they have to make you the uncooked pizza, hand it to you, you pay, then hand it back, and they'll cook it "free".

Anonymous said...

In Nevada, unemployment goes to an EBT card, aka "debit card." It can be used for ANYTHING.

Having zero experience with food stamps, I don't know the deal with EBT and foodstamps. As for the lobster and/or pizza, it's very simple. Food stamps cannot be used for prepared food or alcohol. Beyond that, pretty much any food goes. And regarding the pizza, well, I cna't get worked up over that one for a simple reason: you can get pre-assembled pizza (aka "take and bake") from Costco, Sam's Club, and numerous grocery stores. Heck, the entire Papa Murphy's chain is built on that business model. I'd rather see the money go to a creative small entrepeneur than a big chain.

That said, I'd much rather see the entire food stamp program whacked down to serve only the truly needy. Use the money to fund soup kitchens. The truly needy and laziest slugs will stand in line for free slop, the rest will go out and start providing for themselves.

Cormac said...

Booze? Abosolutely not.
But smokes?
Could a vet with a wicked bad case of PTSD get an EBT card as part of his disability (unable to work because he occasionally thinks something's about to blow up)?

If so, I've known quite a few shrinks who advised patients to continue smoking as a form of self medicating for stress.
Other than that, thougth, Hell no!

Daniel in Brookline said...

Okay, maybe I misunderstood the story.

First, if she asked for ID before selling him cigarettes, and he showed her the EBT card instead of ID, then it's a separate issue -- can an EBT card be used as ID in Massachusetts, or can't it? (I'll confess I have no idea. But this is quite different than refusing to sell a legal product to a legal customer. If she demands to see ID before selling me booze, and I show her my genuine forged Junior Birdman badge, she's doing her job by refusing.)

Second: what's the minimum age for purchasing cigarettes in this state? I thought it was 21... and the story says he was 20, which would make him underage, to boot!

In short, there may well be more to this story than meets the eye. The clerk may well have been doing the right thing, not just morally but legally.