I note with displeasure that in Massachusetts, Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards are once again in the news.
In the 18-month period [from Jan. 1, 2015, to July 1, 2016], more than $7.3 million in Bay State welfare funds were spent outside the state, including $2.4 million in New Hampshire, $780,000 in Connecticut and $549,000 in the Sunshine State of Florida.
In that period, Mass. EBT cards were also used 1,335 times in Puerto Rico to access more than $110,000 in welfare cash.
State Rep. Shaunna O’Connell (R-Taunton) has long campaigned in the Legislature against welfare fraud and abuse.
“I continue to advocate for an end to out-of-state usage and to limit cash access,” she said. “Taxpayer-funded EBT cards should not be paying for vacations. The state should revoke cards used out of state.”
Another $134,000 in welfare cash was accessed in the cities and towns around Walt Disney World in Florida, more than $11,000 in Las Vegas and another $2,289 in Hawaii.
Welfare recipients also accessed $2,054 in Atlantic City, N.J., and another $2,144 in Uncasville, Conn., home of the Mohegan Sun casino, including $600 accessed at 1 Mohegan Sun Blvd.
. . .
In the 18-month period, state welfare recipients accessed nearly $100,000 at liquor stores across New England.
. . .
Other findings from the DTA’s public records:
- $22,700 in welfare funds for “needy families” was accessed at stores with the words “Tobacco,” “Smoke,” “Cigar” and “Cigarette” in their names, including stores in Pineville and Cut Off, La., Moultrie, Ga., as well as stores in North Carolina, Tennessee and Alabama.
- Almost $10,000 was accessed in one tobacco store in Dorchester alone.
- About $19,000 cash was accessed in beauty stores and nail salons, mostly in Boston and other urban areas in Massachusetts, but also including four in Brooklyn and two in the Bronx.
- More than two dozen bars, clubs and taverns have recorded EBT transactions totaling $7,200 with lounges in Lawrence and Springfield leading the way.
- An EBT tab of $14 was run up at a Pennsylvania lounge called “the Swingers’ Club.”
- More than $4,500 in state welfare benefits were accessed at one jewelry store in Springfield, Conn.
- Massachusetts welfare recipients spent nearly $6,000 in the Virgin Islands, including $1,374 at a single restaurant in St. Thomas.
There's more at the link.
I don't expect the Massachusetts bureaucracy to do anything about this. They've got their marching orders from that state's administration, which doesn't want to offend low-income voters and thereby jeopardize their electoral support . . . but it's infuriating to taxpayers, who must watch their hard-earned dollars blown away on self-indulgence by those who can least afford it.
I don't know whether there's an answer to this. I'm aware that some people claim it's cruel or inhumane to expect those 'on the dole' to do without luxuries; but if my tax dollars are being appropriated, without so much as a 'by your leave', to pay for them, I have a vested interest in the issue, and my voice should be heard. Right now, Massachusetts taxpayers have no say at all in the matter. What's more, Massachusetts is only one state in the Union. Many others have the same problem - they just don't talk about it. Some even legally restrict the availability of information of this kind, to make sure no-one knows about it unless some journalist(s) do some very dedicated digging indeed.
John Stossel is one of the few reporters who've tackled this problem head-on. Here's one of his reports from 2010.
Stossel also produced this 2011 special report titled 'Freeloaders'. It's infuriating, but very informative viewing, showing that not just welfare recipients, but some of the biggest companies in the nation are dependent on taxpayer handouts. Highly recommended.
And the net result of such freeloading is what Massachusetts is now experiencing, as a microcosm of what's happening all around the country.