You’ve probably already 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 cards or limit the amount that could be charged on them for the duration of the problem, and perhaps you’d be right. But perhaps they thought that if they did that they would face a riot, or at least 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 what percentage of the EBT-carrying population they represent. But it seems that quite a few cheaters happened to be in Walmart 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 that 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) engenders the idea that it’s your right to get free stuff 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 very 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.