Think of this as a little sneak preview of what awaits us when mandatory spending gobbles up the entire federal budget – a day most readers of this post will live to see – and Food Stamp Nation gets switched off like a light bulb. A computer glitch said to have cropped up during routine system maintenance caused EBT cards to stop working temporarily in several regions of the country. Chaos promptly ensued, as reported by the Clarion-Ledger in Mississippi:
Customers staged a disturbance, took unpaid for groceries and walked out of a Mississippi Walmart after they were unable to use their food stamp cards on Saturday.
People in 17 states found themselves unable to buy groceries with their food stamp debit-style cards Saturday after a routine check by vendor Xerox Corp. resulted in a system failure.
The mini riot happened at the Walmart in Philadelphia, Miss. Shortly thereafter, managers decided to temporarily close the store.
“For the safety of our customers we did make a management decision to close the store. We’re looking into everything; looking at surveillance video and working with the local police,” said Kayla Whaling, a spokesperson for Walmart.
Whaling said the disturbance happened around 10:00 p.m. and the store reopened around 11:30 p.m. She also said she was not aware of any injuries.
In Louisiana, the EBT glitch temporarily removed the spending limits on food-stamp cards, triggering what CBS News euphemistically describes as a “shopping spree”:
Walmart workers phoned their corporate headquarters to ask how they should handle all the shoppers with unlimited, government-funded spending limits, and were told to keep the registers ringing.
“We did make the decision to continue to accept EBT cards during the outage so that they could get food for their families,” Walmart representative Kayla Whaling told KSLA. She added that Walmart was, “fully engaged and monitoring the situation and transactions during the outage.”
Amateur video taken on shoppers’ cell phones shows dozens of shopping carts, piled high with merchandise, abandoned in the aisles of one Walmart after the announcement was made that EBT cards were once again showing accurate spending limits.
Police spokesmen in both locations told KSLA that no arrests were made during the spending sprees.
Shoppers gave mixed reactions to the incident, with one man in the Springhill store told KSLA it was simply “human reaction” to stock-up when given the opportunity. Shopper Stan Garcia was more critical of the unscrupulous shoppers, however, saying that taking advantage of the brief glitch in the benefits system amounted to “plain theft. That’s stealing, that’s all I got to say about it.”
Come, come, Mr. Garcia, don’t be so old-fashioned! Haven’t you learned that it’s not “stealing” when the government is involved?
Angry social media postings predicted, and in some cases called for, violent riots. Keep in mind this whole situation was resolved in a matter of hours. It doesn’t take long for civic order to break down in a dependent population, does it? Evidently many people in the affected areas concluded the EBT system failure was a deliberate aspect of the government shutdown. As if Barack Obama would ever treat these folks the way he treats war veterans!
This is doubtless one of those stories we’re not supposed to notice or comment upon, because it’s cruel, mean, and probably racist to pay attention to the objective reality of what Food Stamp Nation does to its clients. There are people who genuinely require food assistance, but they’re lumped in with an enormous and growing population that really doesn’t, conflating necessary welfare and charity with unnecessary and poisonous dependency. We’re supposed to think only of impoverished mothers with starving children, not spoiled adult children who can’t handle a brief disruption in their support system. It was inconvenient and annoying, but “annoyance” doesn’t seem like the right word to describe some of the reactions.
Frustrated users of the utterly failed ObamaCare online system have been told to send in dead-tree paperwork via snail mail. Since the EBT system is not used for most of the data-harvesting operations it’s theoretically capable of – mustn’t let the taxpayers have a clear look at what those cards are being used to purchase! – maybe it would be best to turn food stamps back into stamps, just to be on the safe side, until our titanic mega-government figures out how to run a website.