All right. Take a deep breath. I promised to be less activist, but I just can’t help it on this one. What is being almost completely banned in California? Banned in stores, public buildings, sidewalks, residential neighborhoods, bars, beaches, restaurants, billboards, magazines, cars, sports stadiums? What can you now buy with your Food Stamps on your EBT/ATM “Electronic Benefits Card” in California? Why, in that forward thinking state of Californ-i-a, you can buy cigarettes with your Food Stamps and even alcohol too!
Holy Marlboro’s Batman, how have we come to this? It started when they decided to give EBT/ATM cards to Welfare recipients to take away the stigmatism of using the Food Stamps in public. Okay, taking a deep breath, What the Fluffy. You see that deep breath was because I have stood behind the Food Stamp purchaser in the checkout line at the grocery store many times. The one who had all the nice thick steaks and ribs, fresh fruit, every snack you could imagine and stacks of frozen foods, ice cream and sodas. Sometimes they would have two carts! My cart always had a small pile of essentials, some hamburger meat, a few fresh vegetables, and some milk. It would send my blood pressure to the moon just watching the cashier rip out the Food Stamps from the little booklets, while I knew I was going to be over-drafting my checking account. As far as I’m concerned stigma is a HUGE part of the WELFARE program and it needs to continue to be.
California’s EBT/ATM card garnered national attention last year when it was found that welfare cards were being used for vacations. Vacations to Hawaii, and Las Vegas, and even used in strip clubs. The “Los Angeles Times” uncovered several documents proving it, so I’m not making it up. Past Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger put a stop to that pretty quick, but how can it be possible that your tax dollars can be so misused. Because you can’t really control what you buy with that EBT/ATM card. The whole purpose of the Food Stamp Program is to allow the essentials to be purchased by those in need. The purpose of the EBT/ATM card was to make it easier for the state to distribute those funds, and at a lowered cost.
Now let’s talk about this ability to buy cigarettes and alcohol on your welfare benefits. Specifically your Food Stamp allotment. An allotment that is costing the Californ-i-ans over $100 million a year. The problem arose when lawmakers started to list what you could and could not buy with your new government-issued ATM card and who was going to “police” that. And that’s how California Welfare recipients got to buy their smokes and booze on the taxpayer’s dime.
California currently is operating with a $23 billion budget deficit. But then again, Governor Brown is advocating an increase in the already ridiculously high cigarette tax by another $1 to fund cancer research. Not to mention the tax on alcohol. So by allowing the welfare recipient to spend tax dollars on taxable items, maybe those elected officials think they are going to reduce the deficit by getting some tax money back? Don’t see that working.
Whatever the reasoning, if there was any, allowing Welfare recipients to buy cigarettes (a substance almost banned in the state) and alcohol, with their Food Stamps, is just STUPID. No other way to explain that one.
(Main Photo credit Wikipedia Creative Commons by Joerite)