Tuesday, March 5, 2013

So, Basically, They Lied.

Remember when we were told that MA EBT cards couldn't be used for cigarettes, alcohol, lottery tickets, and other less-than-essential items? Turns out, they were lying through their damn teeth.

Chief: Tech lag allows EBT misuse 
The state’s top welfare official has admitted his agency doesn’t have the technology to prevent EBT cards from being used on booze, guns and porn, throwing into question the value of the highly touted EBT reforms that State House lawmakers passed last year — further proof that the state needs to tighten the rules even more, critics said.

“Where there’s a will, there’s a way,” said state Rep. Shaunna O’Connell (R-Taunton). “What we can do is stop these stores and businesses from accepting these cards if they sell alcohol or tattoos or are nail salons. The single biggest issue is the cash access, that people can still get cash.

Emphasis mine.

They. Can. Get. CASH. with their EBT cards. We were told that liquor stores were blocked from accepting EBT cards, etc. - and all along, all they have to do is access the cash portion and they can buy whatever they want. The powers-that-be are trying to say this is a technology issue - that while they can ban EBT usage in certain places, like liquor stores; they can't ban the use of EBT cards in stores that sell food items as well as alcohol.

All the while they sidestep the cash portion.

Look, as long as EBT recipients can access cold hard cash at ATMs, you can make all the restrictions you want. You can make the EBT card only accepted at supermarkets, clothing stores, and Bible Study groups, but if little Johnny EBT can get cash, he can buy all the cocaine his shredded nose can handle. Once you allow cash, you have lost the ability to restrict purchases. Period. Full stop. And they knew this when they assured us that EBT recipients weren't using their EBT cards - that's our damn money - to go out and buy cases of beer and smokes.

I don't understand why there's a cash option. I rarely even carry cash any more, as so many places take credit cards that there's very little need for actual greenbacks. All of the necessities - food, clothing, etc. - can be paid for with credit/debit cards, so it's questionable why that option is even built in. Might it be that they want a little bit of untraceable money? It's hard to imagine what you can only buy with cash that you would need an EBT card for. Offhand, I'd say the only things folks would want cash for would be the items that they're not supposed to be buying with EBT cards, like booze, butts, and scratch tickets.

I know, I know, I have a lot of nerve demanding accountability where they shovel my tax dollars...

That is all.


Armed Texan said...

I don't understand why there's a cash option.

That's because you probably think the purpose of EBT cards are to help the indigent instead of to buy votes with your money.

Bubblehead Les. said...

True story. When I went to the Post Office to get a Money Order for the York Arms T-Shirt, I handed my Credit Card to the lady behind the Counter and she handed it back, saying they only take Cash or Debit Cards. When I asked when did that start (since I recall using my Credit Card at Christmas) she said a couple of weeks ago. As I was digging out my Money, I asked "Why Debit Cards?" She said "Because we HAVE to take the Government EBT Cards that get issued to the Poor People."

I wonder if they also have to give them Cash?

Anonymous said...

Of course it would be much to difficult to ask the bank that handles the EBT transactions to simply flag all the cards for "no cash Back, No cash withdrawal".

Or. If that's too hard. They certainly can write a report that lists everyone with more than. X. $. In cash for a specfic period


Jake (formerly Riposte3) said...

Yeah, what Armed Texan said. If they manage to truly restrict what people can buy with your money, the bribes suddenly become less effective.

The Coffee Bastard said...

Around here they infest the supermarkets and offer to buy your shopping on their EBT card for 80% on the dollar. Sadly many people take them up on it.

Anonymous said...

The cash back option is available so people could buy necessities like laundry soap, dish soap, etc. BUT they allow people to buy their cigarettes and booze because on
once again they gain taxes from the selling of cigarettes and booze, so they allow this, act upset appropriately, but turn and look the other way since they are taxing the poor as well.

Interesting note: In Idaho you have to purchase all hard liquor at the state liquor dispensary. You can also buy some beer and wine there as well. If you tell the clerk you are making Julia Child's boeuf bourguignon (beef burgundy) recipe the clerks allow the sale on the EBT card since you are cooking with it.

Opinionated Grump (Rich in NC) said...

"doesn't have the technology..."
I've a Medical credit card issued by my insurer, which will not let me buy a bag of m&m's along with my prescription, the sale was declined.
They must have a lot of space between their teeth to lie through, oh wait...I'm not allowed to say 'lie'. OK, Misrepresent. There, I fixed if for myself.

Rich in NC

bob r said...

Might it be that they want a little bit of untraceable money?

I have no idea what "they" want in this regard, but I want there to very large amounts of "untraceable" money in circulation. I make over xxx a year and have used a credit card in a face-to-face transaction maybe a dozen times in the last decade. It's not that the .gov doesn't know how much money I have but they have no idea what so ever what a good chunk of it is spent on -- and I'd like it to be that way for everybody's purchases.

I have no objection, per se, to a "cashless" system; I just object to the one we (almost) have. A system where you could prove that you made a payment and the recipient could prove a payment was received but nobody else could prove anything about anything without the active assistance of one of the participants is possible -- and desirable.

As to the topic at hand (EBT cards): they're either lying or incompetent. Which not to rule out the possibility that it's both.

The Old Man said...

It's amazing that all the progressive-leadership-big-brains are unable to fathom the ramifications of "fungible" in a "free market".

Ed said...

You wonder why large bottles of Tide laundry detergent are treated like currency? There are both demand and supply purchased with the EBT cards, unless the Tide is outright stolen.