EBT cards became a hot topic in New Hampshire this week but only for those who never pay attention to the state of our country.  Or don’t really care where their taxes go.  But some of us have expressed dismay and outrage at the excesses and abuses of these types of “supplemental support” programs that do nothing to help move the recipients toward more independent and responsible behavior.  To speak about generations in families that have been on welfare for their entire lives is to speak code or buzzwords for hate and discrimination.  EBT cards were designed to help those poor souls avoid the embarrassment and stigma of being on the program.  I think stigma is no longer a problem.

What’s in your wallet? Oh, and who’s paying?

One Jackie Whiton of small town New Hampshire took offense at the young man standing across the counter at the convenience store she was clerking when he tried to purchase two packs of smokes with his handy-dandy taxpayer funded EBT card.  Whiton didn’t think the cards could be used to purchase cigarettes and refused to sell them to the victim.  A heated discussion ensued, whereupon she asked him point blank, “do you think myself, that lady and that gentlemen should pay for your cigarettes?”  Of course, being raised in the entitlement behavioral modification program known as government assistance, his one answer had to be “yes.” Well, so much for stigma.

Denied his purchase, the jilted customer sends his foster mother into the store the next day to complain to management.  Later in the day, the company home office calls Whiton to reprimand her.  She decides to give her notice, feeling that she can’t in good conscience continue to sell items such as these to EBT holders, and she is fired the next day.  Irony alert for those too liberal to figure it out; one less taxpayer working to provide EBT funded cigarettes to the tobacco-deprived.

I too, have often wondered, marveled and raged at the assistance programs.  Of course, I’m obliged to say that for anyone who truly needs it, some type of assistance should be available.  I say obliged, because once you start to ask questions about how the money is spent, where it’s spent, how people are to be weaned from the program and what limitations there may be, well you’re a hater.  You’re probably a provider, but still a hater.  I stood in line at one local market behind a family on assistance.  From what I could gather, it was a mother, her teen-age daughter and her teen daughters’ baby, who was perched in the crook of the young girls arm dressed in only a white tee shirt, a diaper and some tiny little flip-flops.  Mom and grandma were dressed considerably better, grandma with plenty of jewelry and young daughter with new Nikes, several piercings, some rather neat tattoos and an iPhone mashed against her head, continuing her important conversation oblivious to the others in line or the cashier checking her food.

The cashier finished ringing them up and the food stamps came out in what looked like a pinochle deck.  I stood looking at the items in my basket and the two or three manufacturers coupons I had, hoping to get the 20 cents off the razors I needed, somewhat pissed because I didn’t have enough left over to get the Hershey’s nuggets.  Daddy needs his candy.  The cashier gave me a slight smile, looking almost apologetic for the wait.  She rang me up before the family had finished refilling their cart for the trip outside.  They were parked one lane across the lot from me and they raised the hatch on a relatively new Honda Minivan, at least 9 years newer than my Accord.  I jumped in my car, feeling angry and embarrassed for being angry, guilty that I could be angry at those who were in need, but angry that I was in need too but was still paying for the largess of others.  Now I’m angry because that’s how we are programed to feel.  Guilty for being a provider.

Yes, I’m possibly jumping to conclusions; I knew absolutely nothing about them.  But I’m not an idiot and I’ve seen this over and over.  I’m not the only one who notices the abuse and attitudes, with the exception of those who promote the programs for nothing more than a well-satisfied, well-adjusted, non-stigmatized voting block.  One of the best blogs on the experiences from the checkout side of the EBT transaction came from a young college girl who also marveled at the excesses and abuses that she saw everyday.  Not to mention the attitude.  It’s a great read here.   Take a look at her story and see if you can detect any stigma.

Meanwhile, just south of us here in New Hampshire, Governor Deval Patrick responded to the people of Massachusetts this weekend by keeping nail salons and jewelry stores on the list of places that EBT cardholders can shop in their state. And even though they can no longer be used in places like liquor stores, cruise ships, adult entertainment or gambling venues they can still be used to purchase individual items like tattoos and firearms.  And of course, they can be always used to withdraw cash from any ATM that happens to be across the street from a restricted business.  Hey, you’re Entitled to Booze and Tobacco.

We’ve raised multiple generations of entitlement babies with no shame.  They stand in protest lines demanding that someone pay off their mortgages, pay off their student loans, give them free cell phones, and yes, buy them butts and booze, the thought of working for their freebies or paying us back having been branded a stigma and excised from their notions of right, wrong, fair or moral. It will be difficult if not impossible to wean them now and it may well lead to revolution.  The liberal ideology will continue to promise them the shirts off other people’s backs until we’re all shirtless, standing in the streets with our hands around each other’s throats.

Wish I had me an EBT card.  I could use a little glass of wine.