Gaming the System

Via the Crack Den, I just cannot fathom that this is the conversation:

About 230,000 retailers nationwide participate in the SNAP program, with about 80 percent of funds spent at larger grocery chains. But officials said several smaller retailers often fraudulently obtain PIN or card numbers from program beneficiaries and keep the funds without the person’s knowledge. In the last decade, USDA has disqualified more than 8,300 retailers for such fraud, officials said.

In other cases, beneficiaries who receive monthly deposits of food aid on to plastic cards similar to bank cards intentionally use SNAP benefits to purchase water or other beverages with bottle deposits, dump the liquid and then obtain cash for bottle deposits. Others attempt to sell SNAP benefits in exchange for cash onCraigslist and social media sites.

Notice there’s no number on the latter.

Let’s get this out of the way first: everyone who is stealing things right now, stop, proceed to the nearest police station, and turn yourself in.

That being said, there is literally nothing a food stamp recipient could do with his or her benefits that would offend me enough to launch a full-scale witch hunt through the program, not while Dick Cheney is walking around free. Until that rat bastard is hanging upside down in chains like a fucking vampire bat, you could not pay me in either food stamps OR cash to get excited about somebody who is demonstrably fucked enough to be on food stamps doing anything with them at all.

I mean it, you cannot possibly, and I know, okay, this one guy your cousin knows saw something once at a store, but somewhere along the line here we have forgotten as a society how not to get worked up about people doing what people are going to do. There is no system somebody can’t game. Therefore you can either make yourself insane with anecdoctal scare-tactic journalism and the predictable nitwitted response, or you can say, look, 80 percent of this cash is going where it is supposed to anyway, the sucky retailers are being tracked down, and if somebody is poor enough to be buying six packs and turning in the bottles for cash maybe there are other problems I should get to before I yell at him for being, frankly, pretty damn creative about trying to fucking survive.

As I say when we discuss gun control, we are never going to implement Stupidity Control. We are never going to be able to come up with a system that doesn’t wind up benefitting somebody who just wants heroin. So we either let that person’s story become the reason nobody gets to eat, or we let him have his heroin, chill the fuck out, and the 98 percent of people who need hotdogs for their kids get hotdogs for their kids without the food gestapo crawling all over their receipts from the fucking Kwik Trip.

At least until we have Dick Cheney under guard somewhere.


18 thoughts on “Gaming the System

  1. Every time they start beating the drum to investigate food stamp fraud I wonder which politicians in which states have been skimming money from the program this time.

  2. Hell, a (now ex) friend of mine got SO torqued at seeing folks that had been bussed to Houston after the Federal Flood in ’05 using their FEMA cards (or whatever the gov’t provided debit cards were) to buy shit at the hoity mecca of shopping in Houston proper, the Galleria…and yet, she CONTINUALLY used her grandparents’ handicap placard to park her butt close to the door and her grandparents were NOWHERE in sight. She also would accept pricey gifts from a semi-boyfriend but then go return them and get the money to spend on other things…and then bitch that he hadn’t given her an engagement ring yet…(and he never did…he married someone else and left her butt in the dust). Upon losing her job, she did the bare minimum to keep her unemployment rolling in instead of seriously looking for a job.
    It’s always easy for those who are doing the sinning to say “HEY LOOK AT THAT (decidedly minor) SINNER OVER THERE!!! (Pay NO attn to my own transgressions!)”
    Ugh – if someone is so desperate as to return bottles for cash deposits…there are way more pressing GINORMOUS problems than the cash for bottles…

  3. An acquaintance of mine recently lost his job after working there for 22 years.
    He is a sterling example of a scapegoating rightard, and when I was talking with him last night about suddenly having to live on $400/week, I thought it might have knocked some common sense into his ass.
    When I mentioned that he certainly wouldn’t be buying any Welfare Cadillacs on his stipend, he tried to come back with some anecdotal story about seeing colored people cashing their “welfare” (I corrected him – “Unemployment INSURANCE”) checks to buy booze, but somehow his heart wasn’t in it.
    I asked him if he planned to stop buying beer until after he finds another job?
    Nothing like a good slap in the face by reality to realign your preconceptions, no?

  4. Holy shit. Here in North Louisiana the game is called “WalMart Shopping Basket Inventory,” whereas the white, god-fearing citizens of Rock Ridge describe everything in some person’s (read: black person) shopping basket, how their multiple children behaved in line (with their fancy cell phones), how everything was paid for with a food stamp card worth thousands, and it is all brought out to an Escalade with fancy rims.
    This is where we are. Poor whites are resentful, they cannot believe rich white assholes have fucked them and the economy, so it’s back to the age-old stereotypes and blaming poor blacks, that way at least somebody is more fucked than you.
    Lather. Rinse. Repeat. Like a good Christian…

  5. Also, you know those people who stand on street corners with signs asking for money for food? Well you know they all park their BMWs and Mercedes around the corner and walk to “work” every morning.
    And all the single (read minority) moms are just pumping out babies so they can get more welfare, you know because the benefits are so extravagant.
    And everyone on unemployment is just a deadbeat.
    I’m so tired of these memes.

  6. I guess people get all worked up over the welfare queen because they think they’ve seen it or their fifth cousin saw it once. I guess it’s something they can understand. The scumbag bankers and brokers, I guess they look so nice in their three piece suits and they’re all intelligent and make lots of money so they must be good people, right? These are the people who should be doing hard time in Folsom. They should be locked up in chains. But as a society we just can’t bring ourselves to do it. It’s just easier to rag on someone who is down and out and poor as hell and maybe even dirty looking. Them and their $300 debit card, that’s the problem alright.

  7. When someone tells me they know of some person getting UI or disability money or food stamps and they aren’t entitled to the benefits (for whatever reason), I ask them “Well, if you (or cousin, or whoever) know for a fact that they are receiving benefits fraudulently, have you reported them to the authorities? No? Why not? Reports can be made anonymously, you know.” They never have an answer for me.
    My feeling is, I’d rather there be some fraud than to deny someone who really does need the help.
    Besides, you never know the person’s real situation. People could look at me and see someone dressed really well but the truth is I bought good clothes and accessories before I lost my job (3 years ago) and I didn’t sell or get rid of the clothes and accessories or stop using the stuff. If I did was I supposed to get “new” stuff that looked bad?

  8. /whine “But they’re spending MYYYY money in ways I don’t approve of, even thought I spend money on the same damn things.”/whine off
    I had this conversation with a relative and this was essentially her response. She deserves the shit. They do not.
    I don’t really talk to her much anymore, but she’s still my cousin, and I hope and pray her wonderful truck driving husband does not get hurt or lose his job. Family. Whattayagonna do.
    My church people have learned not to make this arguement with me because I Bible slap ’em faster than a Swede can jump on the lutefisk.

  9. PurpleGirl: Former CFO here. I have the big house, fancy car. every electronic gadget there is. Hell, I even have a microwave.
    I’ve been living on $300 weekly unemployment for months now. I have a deep resume with education, certification, executive experience and I can’t even get an interview. I’m that guy in line at Target using his debit card but I suppose no one notices since I’m a white male.

  10. Complaining about welfare is just one more Shiny Object to distract you from the fact that the banksters committed world-historical fraud and then when their fraud blew up on them we bailed them out to the tune of $7.7 trillion while millions of Americans lost their homes.
    Unfortunately, both our politics and our media are so debased now that the Left must have its governmental house in order (e.g., food stamps, UI, etc.) before the Right must (blow up the economy, etc.).

  11. Besides, you never know the person’s real situation. People could look at me and see someone dressed really well but the truth is I bought good clothes and accessories before I lost my job (3 years ago) and I didn’t sell or get rid of the clothes and accessories or stop using the stuff. If I did was I supposed to get “new” stuff that looked bad?
    I buy shit on sale, and in secondhand stores, and off Craigslist and Ebay, all the time. And what if something was a gift? Are you supposed to return it? Sell it for cash? WTF?
    My feeling is, I’d rather there be some fraud than to deny someone who really does need the help.
    Exactly. I had this conversation with family recently, too, about how “our grandparents may have been on assistance during the Depression but everybody was ashamed of it then.” Guys, seriously, how do you know nobody’s ashamed of it now? And how do you know, even, that back then there weren’t moochers and cons too? Christ.
    My church people have learned not to make this arguement with me because I Bible slap ’em faster than a Swede can jump on the lutefisk.
    Marry me.

  12. Everyone has a “true” story about everyone who is lower in the economic pecking order than them.
    In 1971, I was walking with a friend in New York City. A beggar came up and I gave him change. My buddy started screaming about “Get a job.” The beggar pulled himself up and said quite proudly, “I have a job. I’m a beggar. See how clean I am under these clothes. How much do you make, soldier boy? I clear $100 a day.”
    Yeah, it happened. I don’t care. I give if people ask and I have cash on me.
    That would have been me, if my government didn’t have appeals courts against injustice. The system worked for me, it just took five damned years of poverty while the system tried to grind me down.
    I see Chelsea Clinton got a “job.” Well, hip hip hooray for the filthy rich. Who didn’t get a job so she can turn up, bright and scrubbed to pretend that she “deserves” her welfare check?

  13. So there’s a degree of fraud within the food stamp program. How much has that really cost the taxpayer? Figure that out, and then tell me how much corporate fraud and tax evasion has cost this country, how much waste and outright theft from military contractors has cost the taxpayer, where the hell did PALLETS of 100 dollar bills sent to Iraq disappear to. If fraud from food stamps is equal to 1/1,000,000th of that amount I’ll eat my hat and vote for Newt.

  14. Let’s not forget that your food stamps can’t be used to buy soap or toilet paper or laundry detergent. A friend was letting her cousin buy some of her groceries with the cousin’s food stamps and then using the money saved to buy the cousin some of these other necessities. She couldn’t afford to buy them without some kind of payment, being broke herself. How do we know the bottle deposit money wasn’t going to buy tp? Do you want someone’s family to do without tp and soap? Sheesh…

  15. The proper answer to these jerks is to quote Jesus: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

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