Welfare

Man Defends Buying Cigarettes with Government Assistance

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rhymes with free

A sixty-five year old store clerk in New Hampshire was fired last month for refusing to sell cigarettes to a twenty year old using an EBT card. The man's foster mother came in to complain, and eventually the store management fired the clerk. It is perfectly legal, after all, to buy cigarettes with government assistance. The incident sparked a debate over the proper use of EBT cards in New Hampshire. The twenty year old penned an op-ed in the Concord Monitor defending himself:

I wish that my purchase of a pack of cigarettes wasn't an issue for public debate, but as a recipient of Supplemental Social Security, food stamps and Medicaid benefits, it suddenly seems that it is…

Can I spend $5.87 on a pack of cigarettes? Is that okay, I wonder, as tears well in my eyes reading commentators describing people like me as social parasites. Ironically, the same people obsessed with individualism and the free market seem to need to tell individuals how to spend their money. Why do people who are sick or unemployed need to justify their spending habits, simply because they are in receipt of support from their community (transferred via the government in the form of cash)?

…  I know it is uncommon for even the poor among us not to feign shame and brave endurance in the face of poverty. I will not: I'm poor, I'm on welfare, I smoke cigarettes, and I am not a social parasite.

The man's column actually started as an e-mail to New Hampshire legislators, which yielded this response from one of his state representatives, Nickolas Levasseur:

The debate forming here is not focused on whether or not you are a smoker or what you do with "your money". Rather, it is centered on whether or not the tax payer dollars you receive should be spent on non essential items– which cigarettes certainly are. Indeed, at the heart of the debate is the very question of whether or not those tax payer dollars are truly yours or whether or not the tax payers who provide them are entitled to some say in how they are spent…

Some New Hampshire legislators are currently working to reform the state's policy on EBT cards to prevent purchase of non-essentials like cigarettes or beer as a result of this incident's coverage. In fact, the EBT cards can be currently used to withdraw cash, and so purchase any good or service available for cash. One suggestion from the New Hampshire House speaker is to stop allowing the EBT cards to be used as cash cards.

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  1. I’m poor, I’m on welfare, I smoke cigarettes, and I am not a social parasite.

    Oh yes you aaaarrreeee.

    1. Why the fuck is a 20year old getting food stamps in the first place?

      1. When I was in high school a classmate was on 20% unemployment because the hours he worked at the local furniture factory were only around 32.

        1. I knew this guy who would work three months then get himself fired so he could get on unemployment for the next nine. Year after year.

  2. I wish that my purchase of a pack of cigarettes wasn’t an issue for public debate,

    And I wish it wasn’t an issue of public funding.

    describing people like me as social parasites.

    If the shoe fits . . . .

    Ironically, the same people obsessed with individualism and the free market seem to need to tell individuals how to spend their money.

    Umm, whose money, again?

    1. whose money, again?

      The exact point.

      If it had been an act of charity, where one person GAVE money to him, then, at that point, it is his money and he can spend it how he wishes (and the giver can choose whether or not to continue giving the gifts).

      But it wasnt. As many have learned, money from the state comes with strings attached. And that money wasnt freely given to him.

      1. Even if it were an act of charity, the giver still has the right to say “what the fuck” and refuse to give to that freeloader ever again.

  3. Nickolas Levasseur’s response was right on target. I predict he will be savaged for it.

  4. I’m on welfare, […] and I am not a social parasite

    Technically, you are, buddy. Sorry.

    1. I wonder what he thinks would make him a social parasite.

      1. I’m guessing nothing.

        1. Actually drinking other people’s blood.

          I saw Rum Dairy yesterday. I think that blonde chick is actually hotter than vampire Jessica. But what an empty, pointless movie.

          1. There has been too much violence. Too much pain. But I have an honorable compromise. We will agree that they’re both extremely hot and leave it at that. Just walk away. Just walk away and there will be an end to the horror.

            1. One of the few examples of a compromise that doesn’t leave both parties disappointed.

          2. Is Rum Dairy what happens when cows start consuming copious amounts of rum?

            1. We’ve already constructed a butter plot thanks to a typo.

              1. Oooo, now butter is involved? Is it Rum Butter?

  5. I agree with the smoker. If the State gives him money, he should absolutely be free to spend it how he sees fit.

    I of course object to the State giving anybody money.

    1. See my post above, it wasnt a gift.

      1. True. Not a gift. But I still don’t like the idea of telling another person what they should do. Even though it’s not charity, the guy has control of the money, and should be able to buy whatever he wants.

        He’s still a parasite.

        1. He doesn’t have to accept the money. It’s perfectly reasonable for there to be stipulations on receipt of a good.

          1. Or he could sell a bag of apples roadside to make his smoke money and use the ‘food stamps’ for actual food.

            1. Money is fungible.

              The reality is he should have to choose between eating and smoking. Being a smoker myself, they’re largely exclusive to each other anyway.

              Then maybe he would get a damn real job so he could have both.

              But that doesn’t encourage government dependency so, whatevs.

        2. My company gives me a bonus every year. The stipulation is that I can’t just spend it on any damn thing I want – the bonus check is written directly to my retirement account.

          So, yeah, I don’t see anything wrong with government stipulating how other people’s money is to be used.

          The problem you will inevitably run into, though, is the politicization of what constitutes “necessity”. I can just see Chef Boyardee and Hostess lobbying the shit out of legislatures to get their foods on the “necessary” lists.

    2. Yeah. I guess I’m in this camp, with the same SLD. Poor people stay poor because they make bad decisions with how to allocate limited resources. If we don’t want them spending money on things that are deemed unnecessary, then simply provide them with the necessary things and quit trying to split the baby about their dignity.

      1. Providing them with “necessary things” is what got us 2084597 difference social programs.

        I’m with Friedman on this one, if you’re going to have a social safety net, give people cash and let them spend it as they see fit.

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xtpgkX588nM

      2. Yeah, let’s give him free healthcare since he’s so poor and when the bastard is 57, taxpayers can buy him a free heart-lung transplant.

  6. Meanwhile, there’s a bit of a battle going on in Mass regarding what you can and can’t buy.

  7. You can use EBT as a fucking cash card in New Hampshire?! I wonder how NH taxpayers feel about buying heroin for welfare queens.

    1. Yes, all those heroin addicted welfare queens up in Nashua.

      1. I might have to find a different park and ride to use for trips to Vermont.

  8. as tears well in my eyes

    YUM YUM YUM THEY SUSTAIN ME

    1. Regardless of whether he’s a welfare queen, he’s certainly a drama queen.

  9. I know it is uncommon for even the poor among us not to feign shame and brave endurance in the face of poverty. I will not: I’m poor, I’m on welfare, I smoke cigarettes, and I am not a social parasite.

    Holy shit, what gall. GAAARRRRRRRRRRGH WARTY SMASH

    1. The whole point of government social assistance was to take the shame out of accepting freebies.
      It’s not that voluntary charity wasn’t helping people, the problem was that many people were waiting until they were in desperate need before asking for help.
      The goal was to take the shame away so that people would get help before they really needed it.

      Seems to have accomplished its goal and then some.

      1. It’s worked so well that we’re going to expand it to ‘healthcare’.

      2. I wish I could find it again, but back when I worked for Medicare* I helped clean out an old storage space. Found some testimony from the late 60s about how the gov basically browbeat people into signing up for Medicaid. Said the numbers of “too prouds” were decreasing. they went door to door to get people to enroll “for the children”

        *this experience has a lot to do with why I’m here.

    2. Maybe he will smash…and grab all the shit in the display case. I wonder how many guns were purchased with stockpiled EBT cash? I wonder how many of those guns were used in robberies? Or how much of that cash was used for Meth, Heroin, Crack, etc? I am not anti-gun (I love guns) and I am not anti-drug (I love drugs) – but I have to hate their system. Why not provide food pantries to people who can’t afford to eat or provide homeless shelters for people who can’t afford homes…what the fuck is the purpose of handing them cash and saying “Go have fun!”?

      1. Maybe they should just issue them 20-lb boxes of Tide instead. You know, to avoid the middleman right out of the gate.

    3. I worked on a study once that, in part, looked at EBT. One of the main drivers of the move to EBT was to remove the social stigma of welfare. I think we’re better off with people who are somewhat embarrassed to be on public assistance rather than this “Proud to be on welfare and living in Mom’s basement at 35” thing we have going today.

      1. “Proud to be on welfare and living in Mom’s basement at 35” thing we have going today.

        What’re you saying?

        1. I’m saying that a culture where there’s stigma attached to receiving welfare is a good thing. You know, self-reliance and accountability being virtues.

          1. You’re in your serious mood today.

            1. I knew that you knew that I knew that you knew, but this stuff bothers me.

          2. But his self-esteem… you monster. I’m sure it’s not his fault he can’t find a job.

            1. That’s a good point–they should be made to wear hats and outfits to identify them as welfare recipients, particularly when they’re young, healthy, and fully capable of not doing so.

              1. You know who else made people wear funny hats to identify themselves?

                1. Quakers?

              2. they should be made to wear hats and outfits

                That would be cruel. Just a simple badge, with a high-visibility color (personally, I’m partial to yellow), should work just fine.

                1. This seems familiar to me somehow. Some Mel Brooks movie?

                2. How about a big scarlet W?

              3. “We would be able to provide 250 new beds, get people off the streets and into job training so they could…

                …buy rocket packs and go to the Moon and become florists… You’re not really interested in the homeless, are you?”

  10. “Ironically, the same people obsessed with individualism and the free market seem to need to tell individuals how to spend their money.”

    Unaware fuckstick is unaware.

    1. Exactly! This sad sap has no clue where govt assistance comes from. He has no concept of an income tax b/c he’s never been subject to it.

      1. But at least he has a helicopter foster mom to help him get his smokes.

        1. So why does a 20 year old have a foster mother anyway? This country is ridiculous.

      2. to be fair, no one in NH is at the state level.

  11. As long as we’re going to be forced to pay for this guy’s health care, let him smoke.
    He’ll die quicker than if he were forced to quit, using fewer tax funded health care dollars over his shorter life.

    1. Until he gets lung cancer and needs super expensive medication and care to prolong his life.

      1. Right. But the survival rates for lung cancer aren’t that great.
        So he’ll die before he develops diabetes, needs a new hip, has a stroke, or whatever other survivable and expensive maladies occur over his longer life.

      2. Sparkster, smokers actually cost less in health care over their lifetime than non-smokers. Can’t come up with linky, but the gist is that they are more likely to die fast, before they can run up bajillions on medical bills.

        1. Mostly because we smokers tend to die of early heart attacks and massive strokes rather than wasting away of cancer. Nonsmokers have to wait until their stuff gives out, by which time they’ve been senile for years.

        2. If the guy was in his 50s or even his 40s I’d go along with you. This guy is 20 years old, he still has another 30ish years to slowly break down and fall apart requiring all kinds of expenses. And by his writeup in the paper, he doesn’t seem the kind of guy that feels bad enough about welfare to want to get himself off of it.

          1. So then we should be encouraging him to spend it on lots of meth instead of on cigarettes.

            1. Now ^THIS^ is an ingenius, if not wholly fleshed-out idea: instead of issuing EBT cards, why not just dole out crack pipes, needles, and free rock and smack.

              1. Isn’t that what the CIA was trying to do in the 80s?

        3. The Tobacco companies paid for a study in (I believe) Sweden about the effect cigarettes on their social Health Care system. They concluded their was a net benefit in the cost of health care due to the shorter lifespans of those smokers. I remember hearing a piece about this on the radio and thought it was hilarious. Keep smoking and killing yourself – and save me some money.

          1. Every study ever done on the subject comes to the same conclusion. It’s pretty much inarguable at this point. Smokers lower overall health care expenditures.

          2. There was a raft of them back in the tobacco lawsuit days. I saw a summary workup. Yeah, on net, smokers cost the public fisc less than non-smokers. The tobacco companies thought about introducing the studies into the lawsuit to mitigate their damages, but decided not to.

          3. Not only do you end up costing less, you are paying ungodly amounts of taxes on every smoke you burn.

  12. The most economically efficient way to do welfare is to give straight cash gifts and let the people figure out how to allocate it themselves. It’s cheaper to administer and leads to lower corruption in the system overall. Sure people will do shit you don’t like, but it’s better than the rats nest of regulations that leads to things like Section 8 housing, political favors for building owners to construct “low income housing” and such.

    1. The most economically efficient way to do welfare is to give straight cash gifts

      As WOPR would tell us, the most economically efficient way to do welfare it to not do welfare.

      1. That’s an interesting game professor.

  13. Oh, and Ed, can you give more details on why this guy is collecting EBT if he’s a newspaper publisher? I know times are tough for print media but…

    The twenty year old published an op-ed in the Concord Monitor defending himself

  14. Government provides the means for buying smokes, and then advocates for universal healthcare……The only steps left are ??????? and profit!

    1. You forgot the step where they tax the tobacco sales.

      1. Shhh, that’s the ????? part.

  15. Ok, have to admit, buying cigarettes with public assistance definitely puts a new spin on “Live Free or Die”

    1. I was up in northern NH last week on vacation. Due to some proposed modifications to the landscape to make way for power lines, they have a new motto up there: “Live Free or Fry.”

      1. I was in the southern part on Saturday. Stocked up on cheap booze and fireworks.

    2. This guy seems to be trying to do both.

  16. A sixty-five year old store clerk in New Hampshire was fired last month for refusing to sell cigarettes to a twenty year old using an EBT card. The man’s foster mother came in to complain

    Perhaps if mommy had spent a little more time teaching him to be a functioning adult and a little less time complaining everytime someone told her special foster snowflake no he’d be a contributing member of society.

    I’m on welfare … and I am not a social parasite.

    These 2 things are mutually exclusive.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against a welfare safety net, but anyone who uses it is a “social parasite” and owe it to the rest of us to stop mooching off the state at the earliesst opportunity. People who use it for temporary assistance while they get back on their feet are one thing, but I suspect that this fucker is not one of those. He’s a moocher, plain and simple.

    And oh yeah, new flash asshole: it’s not your $5.87!

    1. True. And it’d be one thing if he were 55 and unemployed for three years in this economy after having contributed for the previous 30 years. But this jackass has been leeching off the state for his entire existence and at 20 years old ought to be able bodied enough to flip a goddamned hamburger at the least.

      1. Yes – At 20 years old, you shouldn’t eligble for any welfare programs. Get a job, go to school and learn something people are willing to pay for, join the Navy, the Peace Corps, the Merchant Marine, move to South Dakota and work an oil field, whatever.

        Act like a man and earn your way you fucking piece of shit.

  17. Milton Friedman and myself agree that giving no strings attached hand outs to the poor is more economically efficient then government run programs that provide services.

    1. After watching the last several years of stimulus, I have become a fan of the idea that if you’re going to dump twenty bajillion dollars on a segment of the economy, just writing everyone a damned check is the best way to go.

    2. Apparently there are only ~3 people in this thread that agree with us.

      1. Count me in as agreeing also. Flat Tax + Negative Income Tax is the best we could hope for at this point.

      2. I agree with that also. As I said earlier, I’m not against the idea of a welfare safety net as long assholes like this clown don’t mooch and use it as an excuse to sit around on their lazy asses doing nothing. Unfortunately though, you’re always going to have at least some of that happening. It’s just how some people are. “Why work for a living when the government will take care of me for ‘free’?”

        The key, IMO, is to means test the shit out of it so that the ratio of potential moochers to productive people is a very low number.

    3. But not as efficient as not doing it at all.

      If we are going to argue “efficiency”, then I win, for maximum efficiency.

      1. You have my vote.

        This young man should be free to go work or not without the consequences of his bad decisions affecting any of us.

        Christopher Borges – Be free and do as you please, without any of my money.

      2. Unfortunately, running on that platform will not garner many votes. Radically changing to a system devoid of a safety net will never be popular. Better to try to effectively maximize our liberty now, getting us on the road to a freer future.

        All-or-nothing frequently leaves us with the latter.

  18. “I’m poor, I’m on welfare, I smoke cigarettes, and I am not a social parasite.”

    Who the fuck isn’t poor when they’re 20? Really, how the hell does this guy expect me to feel sorry for him? When I was 20, I made $12K a year. Lived on my own, no welfare, and blew whatever little money I had on smokes and Natty Light. ‘Course the sin taxes on the smokes weren’t as high back then…

    1. The difference between you and him is that you were the kind of poor that just hadn’t made it out yet. He is the kind of poor that simply accepts his poverty, indulges in the self-pity of it, and believes that his poverty is the result of forces beyond his control and ergo a permanent feature of his life. And it will be as it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy in his case.

      Our only hope is that he dies a miserable and painful (albeit relatively cost-free) death in the immediate future.

  19. I have to agree with Mo and Joshua Corning.

    It’s not just a matter of economic effiency, either. It’s a political imperative.

    At the end of the day, the state is a bunch of people sitting in offices calling themselves the state. Every person you add to the headcount in those offices is another warrior for statism. Seeing people buy “nonessential” items with EBT creates a certain amount of frustration, and you may be tempted to try to scratch that itch by establishing a higher level of bureaucratic control. But doing so is a net loss, because the bureaucratic staff that you have to put in place to police this shit (and to write the rules for it, and to go to conferences where they discuss it, and to rule on administrative grey areas, etc.) is your real enemy, and not this douche who bought cigarettes.

    The best thing about a Friedmanesque Reverse Income Tax is that it would gut the bureaucracy of a laundry list of agencies. We’d still have the same number of parasites, but the state itself would suffer a crippling blow. Don’t get suckered into supporting anything that increases systemic complexity, because that strengthens the state in the long run.

    1. Beyond that, there is a beneficial agitprop to letting this guy buy smokes with his gubmint queso. Ordinary citizens, even the condescending progressives who see the poor as some noble breed just born into poor circumstances, will see the abuses of their hard-earned money and maybe/hopefully (if they have an ounce of brains or self-respect) turn against the very notion of the dole as it’s nothing but a racket that they’ve been suckered into to fund some layabouts unworthy life.

    2. What happens when the recipient blows through his handout on nonessentials? He just comes back for more. That’s the real problem with “jusy give them cash”. Unless you’re prepared to let them die on the streets, there is no limit.

      1. I ready for people to die in the streets – unless they accept private charity.

        1. Well yes, I agree, but the “economically efficient” argument does not work when, in the long run, you are trying to disincentivize reliance on the State. Like I said, suppose this guy blows through his handout on nonessentials and asks for more? The only way to assess whether he receives more is to analyze his past purchases.

          1. Or to realize you are talking to a healthy 20-year-old and laugh in his face.

      2. Uh. Ever been to a Walmart on the 1st of the month? This already happens.

      3. You’re ignoring the value of social learning – like too many citizens. Will some die on the streets? Yup. A few. But, guess what? Everyone else on the dole will learn: “Holy Shit! If I blow through my money on smokes, I might wind up starving to death!!” or “Holy Shit! I just blew through all my money! What the fu** am I gonna do? Christ, I’ll go to the refuge that’s going to restrict every last brass farthing of what I spend.”. At the end of the day, a few deaths will save many.

    3. We had a discussion a year or so back … holy shit, I found it.

      Feast your eyes. Lots of disagreement on this in libertarian circles. Do we empower the nanny-state and hope it stays within the realm of welfare recipients only, or do we draw the line?

      https://reason.com/blog/2010/10…..nt_1939984

    4. What happens when the recipient blows through his handout on nonessentials? He just comes back for more. That’s the real problem with “jusy give them cash”. Unless you’re prepared to let them die on the streets, there is no limit.

      1. The same thing when he blows through his handout that’s been allocated for specific goods. They come back for more, or create a black market for whatever scrip they’re issuing, to buy cigarettes and booze.

    5. I think you could get by without adding bureaucracy. Since it’s electronic, all you have to do is program them not to accept certain barcodes.

      A medical card we get as part of our health plan at work is like this. It simply doesn’t work if I were to try and buy candy or some such thing. The legislature can make their own committee to decide what should be excluded, but that would probably be comprised of people who are already working in the state gov’t.

      I just can’t get behind the idea of making it OK to be a parasite. If you accept direct state assistance, not only should you be ashamed, you should be beaten within an inch of your life regularly until such time as you no longer require said assistance. /hyperbole

      1. Who decides which barcodes are allowed or not allowed? That’s right, a bureaucrat.

  20. I’m sorry, but many of you have it dead wrong.

    You see, the way it really works, is that all of the money belongs to the government.

    The government must then decide what they will let you keep, because that is social justice. And not having social justice is racist!

    So really, we are all getting welfare if the government has decided to let us keep some of ‘their’ money.

    And, asking this guy to not buy cigs or beer with his EBT, that is HIS cause the government decided that it is, is racist!

    So, STFU and start paying your fair share, you greedy teabagging Paulbots!

    1. Wow, thanks, Hyperion! Now, Tony and shrike won’t have to post on this thread!

      /snark

    2. You forgot to call us “Christfags”.

  21. Wait. You mean I could have been on Social Security, instead of working my ass off, since I was 22?

    The Fuck?!

    1. I have been eligible for full SSI disability since 1998.

      1. I didn’t realize I could be on disability just by claiming to be scared of candy.

        1. I ain’t a’scared!

    2. It seems to be the latest trend. I am starting to feel really stupid working all of the time and not having nearly as much ‘stuff’ or free time as those feeding from the bottomless government trough.

  22. Considering all the sin taxes, the government was really just paying itself. With, of course, the dead weight loss of the bureaucracy that facilitated the EPIC FAIL ouroboros.

  23. I agree with jc and CG that just giving this dumb fuck (and others like him) straight up cash is the most expedient thing to do.

    The thing that’s really fucked up about this story is this: “…store clerk in New Hampshire was firedlast month for refusing to sell cigarettes to a twenty year old using an EBT card.

    Let these people spend their government tax-payer money however they want, but I shouldn’t be in fear of my job because I refuse to sell to you.

    1. That’s the employer’s choice. And given the legal environment, can you blame them?

      1. I think it’s pretty clear cut that she should have been fired.

        1. Personally, I’d have given her a final warning for this one, but I’m just an old softie.

      2. No doubt it’s the owner’s choice. It’d just be kinda nice if the owner had backed the clerk up is all I’m saying.

    2. No, this is the fucked up part: The man’s foster mother came in to complain.

      He’s 20 fucking years old, but mommy still feels the need to protect her wittle pwecious baby from the mean old codger down at the convenience store who doesn’t want to let him have his smokes.

      1. Did he run down the street in tears ’cause the mean lady wouldn’t give him free smokes?

      2. He’s only an adult child, you know. Mean old libertarians want people to start becoming responsible when they’re only like 18. It’s just mean to expect adult children to be responsible. I think that Obamatax has now made adult childhood to extend to at least 26.

      3. Funny how when the state tells you you can’t buy a recreational drug, it is saving the world. When a private individual does the same, it’s an offensive act.

        Not saying the employer didn’t have the right to fire here, just making a mockery of the situation.

      4. Yeah, ok, that IS more fucked up. Thanks for taking the wind out of my sails Loki, I has sad face.

    3. “The thing that’s really fucked up about this story is this: “…store clerk in New Hampshire was firedlast month for refusing to sell cigarettes to a twenty year old using an EBT card.”

      It’s cool. The clerk can get govt assistance now, which apparently is a pretty sweet deal in that state.

      1. Hope she walks into the same store with her EBT card and buys nothing but candy and porn.

  24. I get state disability withheld from my paychecks. Have for decades. If I ever have to take time off with an injury, and draw on that insurance, it’s nobody’s business what I spend that money on. If I am spending money on lift tickets then I’m not really diabled. But if I am spending money on beer, it’s not “using public funds for an unessential item”.

    1. I suspect that if the cigarette-buyer had been paying withholding from his earned paychecks “for decades,” he’d’ve garnered a lot more sympathy.

  25. I’m surprised the anti-smoking fascists haven’t lobbied to prevent welfare bums from spending five bucks of government-goodie money on a pack of smokes.

    1. That would be racist, because the guy is poor. Why do you hate the adult children?

      1. I forgot… according to Democrats, children don’t become adults until the age of twenty-seven.

  26. If I was designing a safety net from scratch, it would be an all-cash deal, probably once a week. No other vouchers, benefits, discounts, subsidies, you name it.

    Here’s your cash, now get out. You run out of food before next Friday? Your own fucking fault. Maybe you won’t be such an idiot next week.

    1. I agree with you. I think it will be very difficult, even in the very-long run, to eliminate a government-run social safety net entirely. It seems part of human nature to want to care for others in the group- people will get pissed off at this, but I’d bet the vast majority are fine with making sure nobody starves.

    2. Once a week is perfect too, since the “mass starvations” are less likely if someone only has to go without food for 5 or 6 days at a time.

    3. Ditto. And since social insurance is a political inevitability, that’s the sort of thing we should be pushing for.

  27. This is actually an issue I discussed with a friend of mine a couple of weeks ago (okay, actually the purchases discussed were steaks and lobsters). Although he tends to be much more pro-government than I, we did tend to agree that this isn’t an issue, per se. What poor people choose to do with their money (and once you’ve given it them, it should rightly be their money) is their own affair. Rather it is a reflection of a more important issue – namely that the breadth of the welfare state has gotten out of hand. If people can afford to use their foodstamps on cigarettes, either they don’t need foodstamps or they’re getting too much in foodstamps.

    1. An odd side note. My friend noted to me that, although prepared foods are not allowable under PA law, sushi is not considered a prepared food. So, you can’t buy the bologna sandwich for $2.75 with your “EBT Card”. But, you can buy the $6.75 tray of sushi with it. That gave rise to a great name for a band: Welfare Sushi.

  28. I don’t get this at all. Any money you get is fungible, right? So, the out of pocket money you don’t spend on, say, a quart of milk, you can spend on whatever you like. If the government is going to give some people other people’s money, fine, then just do it and don’t get all self righteous about them spending it in appropriate ways.

    1. I’m still surprised people aren’t forbidden to buy smokes with government money, given all the anti-smoking bullshit spewed by that very same government…

  29. i find it amusing how many people give a s@#$ whether a guy buys a pack of cigarettes. The specificity and process involved in making a centralized system to ensure that noone bought ‘bad’ things with welfare money would be as difficult as.. well.. designing a single payer healthcare system.

  30. Handing out cash is one of the most pointless things govt can do, whether its welfare or foreign aid. If taxpayers wanted their money to go to those recipients, they can send it their fucking selves. Don’t need to add another govt-employed middle man making $80k a year and an unsustainably generous pension to put rubber stamps on the checks along the way.

    How about they just privatize the welfare programs. And allow competing programs for the taxpayer to choose from. Let the taxpayer pay their favored program directly too, and call it “charity”.

  31. “I’m poor, I’m on welfare, I smoke cigarettes, and I am not a social parasite”

    And Nixon said he wasn’t a crook.

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