Is it wrong to assume that the purpose of food stamps is to buy, well, food? Apparently it is in California.
The California welfare program provides welfare recipients electronic food stamps in the form of a debit card. These cards called electronic transfer of benefits, or EBTs, allow recipients to withdraw money at ATMs - even ones in casinos and strip clubs.
In the last six months, the debit cards withdrew more than $1.8 million of taxpayer cash on casino floors. Upon realizing that this has been happening for years, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger issued an executive order requiring welfare recipients to promise to use cash benefits only to "meet the basic subsistence needs" of their families.
What do you think - is this an outrage? Or is it none of anyone's business?
They should cancel these cards immediately and demand payment for all unauthorized transactions. No cards should be allowed for cash withdrawals at all.
Darn right its our business. It absolutely makes no sense that a person is able to draw food assistance funds directly from an atm. These cards should be controlled like health care spending cards which can only be used for health care expenses or penalties apply. It is our business because its our money. A person who is responsible with the money shpuld be left alone granted they are working towards a better situation.
Unbelievable. These cards can be used to withdraw MONEY at ANY atm? No wonder California is broke. If I understood it correctly, these cards are given out in place of FOOD stamps. Therefore it should not be too difficult to restrict their use to retail outlets (NOT restuarants) that provide foodstuffs. In fact it should not be to hard to have those outlets provide the state with a detailed receipt like the groceries give all customers, upon request. Any recipient spending these funds for anything other than food or basic hygenic items should be required to reimburse the state on first offense and prosecuted for fraud if it happens again.
The blog reads casinos and strip clubs, but the on-air only focuses on "lap dances" – ignoring gambling (probably the bigger percentage of "abuse") – sensationalism?
But seriously, I have "Bridge Card" in MI with point-of-purchase restrictions on what can be purchased. That would be the only way to effectively limit what the "low income subsidies" can be used for – "acceptable products/services" with no cash back.
Practically, this leads to another problem – if the govt. covers some basic needs, does that free up other disposable income of the recipients for "unapproved" expenditures?
Maybe the People that do this, should go Hungary for a Week or so?
I am Sure that will Teach them the ERROR of there ways!
Morning Ms.Phillips and happy fourth, if the funds are not the IOU's owed by California tax return then of course it's more than wrong.... its deplorable.
I reside in TN and the EBT system here will not allow a withdraw of any type. Only purchase of food... not to say the system is infallible. For fraud to take place it requires human intervention.Its been reported people have purchased cigarettes, beer and other sins. This seems like an issue of stupidity on the part of California gov.
I think there needs to be an investigation and those that abused the system should repay.
If people want to spend time at strip clubs I would guess they can spend time getting a job and providing for their families like other people. welfare is to help people get back on their feet not help them continue making poor choices. whoever is responsible for allowing this should be paying back the taxpayer!
The food stamp/welfare cards used in most states now are just like debit cards. These cards can be used at any ATM no matter the location. I live in Illinois and it sickens me to watch someone withdraw money in a liquor store or bar. I have seen it!! There should be some restrictions on these cards as in the end it is the children of these people that suffer when the parent is allowed to make such purchases using these cards.
i dont understand these cards, i have a Sear Mastercard and somehow it knows im at a casino and will not allow more than 100.00 from the atm. Why can these cards be somehow programmed in the same fasion
If I did the math correctly that averages out to less than 4/100th of a cent per welfare recipient. over a 2 year period.
So if you are going to control what this money is used for, what's next? Maybe vegetarians should demand that food stamp money cannot be used for meat. Maybe sane people can demand food stamp money should not be used for junk food... How about no food stamp money for trans fats?
This is a no brainer. Taxpayer assistance is supposed to help those in dire straits get the essentials to survive: food, clothing, shelter. This does not include alcohol, cigarettes, marijuana, strip clubs, massage parlor, casinos...the list of NON-essentials is endless. Use for non-essential items should be viewed as fraud and their benefits stopped, so money can go to those that really need it and use it appropriately.
This is an outrage! This is taxpayer dollars being thrown away. If you are on assistance then why would you be in those places of establishment in the first place? Further, why are those people being given disposable income? The necessities should be covered and that is it. If those people want 'more' of a disposable income then they should get a second job assuming they have one in the first place.
I don't see what the big deal is. When I was last laid off and got unemployment benefits, they sent me a check. I cashed it and could use the money anyway I wanted to.
I absolutely agree that nobody on public assistance should be spending taxpayers' money on gambling or entertainment.
However, don't forget that many decent people (some of whom are on public assistance) work at casinos and clubs to make ends meet.
The report assumes that everyone accessing these ATMs were customers and that the money was spent on the premises.
First Kyra called it welfare, now she says Food Stamps.
In Virginia, they're two different things. Food Stamp EBT cards cannot be used to withdraw cash. Recipients simply use the cards to purchase food (hot, prepared food does not qualify) the same way one uses a debit or credit card at the store. Why would Food Stamp cards allow cash withdrawals.
If Kyra has things mixed up, and she's talking about welfare, then that's a whole different thing. It's extra money to help families survive.
Before she raises a stink, maybe she should figure out what she's talking about. The L.A . Times reporter referenced when the state stopped issuing "paper checks" in 2002. So I would assume he is talking about welfare, not Food Stamps, because Food Stamps never were issued in checks. There were paper Food Stamps.
Which is this story about? Welfare or Food Stamps?
If the State of California wants to control how the money is spent, instead of "CASH" cards, how about using a bill paying service for that money. Most banks offer that service for free. No drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, etc..
The food cards should only be able to be used at grocery stores. They do not allow a purchase of paper goods, why would they give out cash. That is the State of California's fault. Maybe that is some of the reason they are billions short on their budget.
It is rediculous for a person be using tax payer, well intentioned funds for personal entertainment. Welfare is to help struggling people meet basic needs: food, water, shelter. I'm sure someone will make the arguement that "that strip club has the ATM closest to my house" but I'm guessing that is only 1% of the problem and truth. Truthfully people are using welfare as a primary income and doing whatever they can to keep those checks comming, not trying to support themselves without government assistance.
I just hope the kids dont suffer over this problem.The parents are out of there mind for doing this.The kids should come first not the strip clubs and casinos.
should recipients be able to buy whatever they wish? ABSOLUTELY NOT!
is it our business? yes, if it's a government subsidy. it is not provided by the state to be spent in strip clubs or casinos...
should it be spent in either, the person should be subject to revocation of that subsidy – clearly it's not needed for the purpose afforded.
Welfare is meant to help people in need. What my solution would be to stop welfare dollars from being used for other than intended essentials is to have a review of the ATM use of the welfare card. Strip clubs, gambling, and other non-essential purchases showing on the user's card account should be cause for immediate dismissal of welfare benefits.
We are all obligated as a society to help our fellow citizens who need help, but I resent being cheated by welfare abuse.
Thanks for covering the story.
I am a municipal government worker and I remember food stamps were only accepted at grocery stores (not liquor). Food only...no cigs, no alcohol. Now strippers...what on earth has this state come to. And, you are correct, these are taxpayer funds and it is everyone's business when people are spending their hard earned money on such filth......
It doesn't matter where they receive the cash, it's how they spend it. It is VERY MORONIC to be able to withdraw cash from a strip joint or casino, but even if they withdraw funds from a bank, no one can stop them from going to the strip joint or casino. They shouldn't be allowed to withdraw cash, plain and simple. A debit card could track purchases and prevent such abuse.
Are you serious? Why is this even a question? Welfare is money given to people that cannot afford to buy essentials, not for entertainment. Why should the "people" supply money to those who cannot afford to buy food and clothes, for strip clubs and casinos?
If politicians need to consider this... That is one of the main problems with this country.
What are our lawmakers thinking? Welfare is supposed to be used for the basic necessities of life – food, clothing, shelter. Why should hard-working taxpayers have their money used for entertainment and gambling by people who aren't working to support themselves?!! i bet most of the taxpayers funding welfare don't indulge in these frivolities - at least not before the bills are paid. I, for one, object to welfare money being "pissed" away. Obviously these people are not looking for any meaningful work or to lift themselves out of poverty if they have time to spend in casinos and strip clubs. It's one thing to spend the money you earn any way you want to, but when it's a gift from the taxpayers it should be used for what it was intended. Shame, shame, shame on our leaders!!!!
As someone who works in a grocery store, I know that there are many different government mandated restrictions on what one is allowed to purchased with your wellfare card (at least in Texas). It is up to the individual company to enforce those restrictions or to ignore them. To expect strip clubs and casinos to except responsibility instead of excepting money is nieve and rediculous.
This is obsurd! This is theft by deceiving a government office! These funds are disributed to people who are unable to care for their children due to no JOB, no income, or low income! So therefore if they have the money for these frivolous acts of diversion! What is the motivation to not be on these programs. I was a recipient at one point in my life and I could not even buy pre-prepared hot food! I was motivated to get off the program and become a productive citizen in society!
Calif food stamp being used in strip clubs. I think this is an outrage. Although I no longer pay taxes in Calif (I was born and raised in CA), this outrage is an insult to me, someone who worked all of their teen and adult life and continues to pay taxes from their retirement income in current home state. If that outrage were revealed in my current home state I would be outraged. I would fight to have my state make changes.
Yes, it is wrong for (food stamp money) to be used for anything but food. Welfare receipants, in any state, should not be able to withdraw money off these cards – period!
As far as it being no ones business – it is EVERY taxpayers business how those on Welfare use the money.
Dumb Story-$12K in two years in nothing. The card holders can use their card at an ATM and get cash and then go to the "places of temptation".
Why not take a look at the ATM providers that charge benefit recipients a fee to get money.
How much state benefit money goes to drug dealers? I am pretty sure that it is over $12K. That is a real story.
I stopped what I was doing just to listen to your self rightous coverage of a story. Whatever the case may be, your indignant, self rightous tone and repeated use of the word "temptation" was offensive.
Can't you report the story without obviously connotating your point of view.
It is no one's business what recipients of this benefit do with it. NONE. This is America, or at least this is the land America used to be on. Maybe the media, jack dolan of the la times, & taxpayers should focus theyre energy on bigger game, like how the fed government has been destroying this great country & screwing over the american citizens since the reagan admin.. And stop concerning themselves w what people do. Get over yourself.. $1.8 mil? that isn't even a drop in the bucket compared to what the fed took from us and gave to the corporate juggerNOTs. Worry about whats wrong w America, & get your noses out of other peoples personal business. It's disgraceful
Student loans, unemployement, in what other instances should we poke our nose as the socialist society we have become?
We all pay for welfare cards with the taxes we pay. They should only be used for food for these families, no cigarettes or alcohol. I knew a woman that had four kids by four men and collected a huge amount of welfare food stamps on her card. She would go in a grocery store and buy whatever her neighbor needed and the neighbor would give her cash (much less than the bill). She actually never used all of her food stamp money on the card and made money from it instead. Then there are the cases of the State of MI going after a perfectly legitimate woman on a disability which affects her nerves and muscles simply because she doesn't look disabled to the State worker. The people the State hired to do this have no medical training and many of them have been fired from other State jobs. The States need a clean-up job on not only the recipients but also the ones they put in charge.
Like most Americans in want to help those in need, but I think we are naive to think that those we help spend their money they way we would. If they were responsible with money they may not need as much help as we give.
I think who ever is abusing the debit cards should he denied any further assistance and should be made to pay this money back. It's alot of people that truly need this money or stamps to use it the proper way. The one's that need it can't get it but the one' getting is abusing it. I'm just smh.
Did I hear this correctly? California allows people on food stamps to withdraw cash?
Are they nuts?
That is not allowed in Ohio, food only, no cash!
However they let them buy the most expensive American cheese on the shelf at close to $5.00 a pound, which I never could figure out?
I'm retired and I could buy that, but I don't! Its a waste of money when you're on limited funds.
If you go to the store in the first week of the month, you'll notice their shopping cart are loaded with junk food, hot dogs, chips, ice cream, cheap juice, candy and very little fresh produce or meat. If there is meat, its usually sold for cash to someone on the outside and the cash used for tobacco, alcohol or drugs.
California is nuts, plain and simple and its no wonder the state is broke!
First of all they are not withdrawing cash in place of food stamps. Food stamps on the card can only be used to purchase food at authorized outlets even though they are contained on a card.
The cash that people are withdrawing is also contained on the card but it is different, it is welfare cash assistance. It's purpose is to allow people to have cash available to purchase those items that they may need cash for.
There are only a couple of ways to provide that cash to people. It can be sent in the form of actual cash aid, it can be provided in the form of a check which the recipient can then convert to cash or it can be provided in the form of a debit card. No matter how it is provided it is cash and can be used as such to pay bills, eat out, gas for a car or anything else for that matter.
Even if they turned of access at strip clubs and casino ATMs that would not prevent anyone from spending the cash at those types of places. They would simply have to get the cash from another location first before entering one of those establishments.
Lastly, this is not news. $12,000 dollars spent in this way in the L.A. area over the course of 2 years? Big deal. People getting outraged over this? Why? California is 20 BILLION dollars in the hole and we are going to spend our time worrying over a lousy $12,000 dollars.
Fake outrage directed at the wrong people is a large part of our problem, get a grip people. How bout the BILLIONS that are paid out each year to double dipping government employees who have retired from one governmental career, collect thier full pensions and begin another governmental career from which they can collect yet ANOTHER pension from which we have to pay for? I think that adds up to far more than a few thousand dollars being spent in strip clubs by welfare recipients.
The point is missed that cash can still be retreived from any legitmate ATM any the moneies still be used for NON-needed subsance. There is much fraud in the welfare system any abuse should render immediate removal from the program.
At one time I was proud to be Californian. It saddens me to watch this states government go completely spineless, afraid to say no to people undeserving of a hand out therefore continueing to sink it's self and drag the rest of the states citizen down with it.
I dont think people should be able to withdraw money from benefit cards altogether. That is so stupid. What makes you think that they can't go to an ATM next to a strip club and spend it there or even on drugs. These cards should be restricted on a store and product basis as well. I am appalled that the tax that I pay goes to illicit causes.
amazing what welfare will buy. Glad I work 16 hours a day everyday, so that some welfare recipeint can have a good time, time for the free ride to stop. enough is enough!!
You kidding? With all the money the fed throws away on garbage? I'd support financial programs directly aimed at supporting the adult entertainment industry. However, they generally don't need help. It's odd that in a lousy economy people still find enough to rent a porn or get a fleshlight. It's all about priorities. Want to invest in a growth industry? Invest in porn.
Outrageous!!!! Yes I do believe we have a right as taxpayers to decide how the welfare money can be spent - for necessities only like food, shelter, utilities, and gas to get to work -NO CASH for discretionary spending.
Welfare in the form of Food Stamps is supposed to go help feed the poor and hungry who have children and other dependents that they are unable to feed. These are tax payer dollars set aside for that purpose and that purpose alone. Accessing ones Welfare money at a Casino, Strip Club or Medical Marajuana lab triggers the question "what are these welfare recipients doing at these places" and "will they really just walk out and not spend any of their food stamp money having fun instead of feeding their kids, etc." I believe that our tax dollars should not be "dished out" in places where inticing lures linger and no real benefit to home or family is derived.
I cannot understand why the California government overlooked this issue. I just shows how loose and how irresponsible the government is with the tax payers money. I work very hard to support my family, pay my taxes and to see how my money is spent just makes me sick. The GOP is scratching their heads wandering why is America so mad, well I can help them with that just look around at who you have in charge, you just put anybody in control that has no common sense. Here is one example just look at Kagan she has absolutly zero experience in a justice seat, they just want someone in that seat they can control. I will tell you this it will not be much longer until the people use their constitutional right to remove government officals.
I think California deserves what it gets. The liberals have run the state for decades and this is how they buy votes. They have abused the taxpayer untill they now have a 20 billion dollor deficit and now the big taxpayers are moving out. My advise to California politicians, JUST RAISE TAXES AND BORROW FROM OBOMA.......
It's interesting that everyone has assumed that it's a John who's using the card. It's really hard to raise kids on Welfare, so I'm thinking that it's one of the girls at the strip club who's cashing in her card at her workplace.
My thought is; we should track the people that have frequently used a welfare card at a strip club or casino and suspend their benefits until they.can come up with proof of where the money was actually spent.
This story perpetuates anti-economic safety net sterotypes. The story fails to point out that it involved a very small percentage of welfare recipient transactions nor did point out how low welfare payments are. Obviously' starvation or homelessness would reslt from spending dollars at Casinos. Did you consider that low paid hotel workers may use casino ATMs?
A much more important story is why politicians can't agree on a plan to strenthen the economy even as it has become clear such a plan is deparately needed.
Now that I've read some of the comments left by others, I have a few statements. YES, alot of states give out cash, for AFDC, and other forms of welfare. These cards are not for food stamps. Since AFDC payments are repaid, by the Father in most cases, and agressively persued by the attorney generals, I don't think it matters where the withdraw it, or what they use it on. If they are neglecting their children, do something. If they are commiting fraud, do something, but if they are withdrawing money, to pay for the priveledge of dancing naked, to provide for their families, leave them alone. It is not illegal to make money, while on AFDC, below a certain amount. These people aren't the demonized leaches the GOP likes to point to. They are desperate people, sometimes addicts, always poor, and all anyone worries about is a few taxpayer dollars, which will be paid back, as soon as a court order on the father goes thru.
First of all, I'm against the use of food stamps and AFDC to be used for casinos and strip clubs because you don't have to pay into the system to be eligable for this assistance. However, The Gov also puts other benefits on these cards. Some people, not me, elect to have there disability benefits placed on these cards. I paid into the system for over 20 years, sometimes working 110 hours a week, and I don't think itt's right for the Gov or anyone else telling me where I can spend my disability benefits. I personally do not visit casinos and strip bars, but, I paid into the system and its no ones business how I spend money.
Cremater explained this. Why is is so hard for some people to understand? No one is withdrawing cash from Food Stamp money.
The cards also have welfare cash assistance funds. That money can be used for anything. Food Stamps are only for food. People need other things - clothes, over-the-counter medication, school supplies, etc. People use their unemployment money on whatever they choose, and should be able to do the same thing with welfare money. Also, as many posters have pointed out, casino and strip club EMPLOYEES could be using the ATMs, and someone could withdraw cash from an ATM at a bank and spend the money on oxycodone, cocaine, marijuana or a zesty, light, but never pretentious block of black tar heroin. It's irrelevant. There are so many other more important stories. If someone qualifies for welfare or unemployment, he/she obviously is living a pretty crappy life, so he/she deserves a lap dance.
12,$000 withdrawn at strip clubs...... not spent (no proof of it being spent) over a 2 year period, would mean that just 1 Food stamp recipient could be responsible for the withdrawal of $16.44 per day at one of the thousands of stripclubs in the state of California.It could be a starving stripper who didnt make enough tips, it certainly deverts attention from all the real issues California is facing.
he story perpetuates anti-economic safety net stero types. The story fails to point out that it involved a very small percentage of cases. A much more significant problem is that the economic safety net is not sufficient. It would be much more signiicant to learn why policians have apparently given up on formulating a plan to strengthen the economy even though I is desperately needed.PS; Did it ever occur to you that some of those tranactions at casinos could be low paid hotel workers that use ATMs at work, eg bell men & housekeepers.
These payments should not be allowed to be used in gambling establishments. There are several arguments supporting this; The major percentage of recipents have dependent children whose needs are greater than the need of the parents to gamble. Secondly, if these people receive so much money that they have enough left over, after paying living expenses, then they are recieving too much money. It is not paternalisim when taxpayers money is involoved.
Of course it's incredibly stupid to put ATM accesses in strip clubs, but that was the government's bright idea! Howver the venom seems to be all on the side of those "dirty scumbag welfare people"... right? Be very careful my friends...it's a slippery slope for those of you on the top, it can be a very rough ride down...I guess you're only free if you get a paycheck in America...what about the seniors (they play Bingo)...ooooh....bad...the disabled....be careful what you do.
It could be just one person doing it, am i correct?
This makes me glad to live in Texas at least here all you get is food and the children to whom it is ment gets fed theres no telling how many children go hungry from worthless parents spending the kids money on strippers gambling and drugs .
food stamp benefits can only be used to purchase food
A few annoying facts. This is not about Food Stamps at all. Sorry to ruin the frame.The media is having a field whipping this story into an outrage as the post suggests. But the truth is that 99.9 percent of all withrdrawls in CA EBT system were at legit ATM outlets. Why is no one mentioning that? Why is everyone so eagerto jump on welfare families? And that is all we know, that there were withdrawls. We don't know anything about how the money was spent. But people can't wait to jump to conclusions. And what is wrong with a welfare parent working in a casino using the ATM at work? The machines are often cheaper. You are more likely to win the Lotto than find a family withdrawing money at a strip club. The percent spent at strip clubs is literally so small an amount that it is measured in the millionths. But the media treats this like a grand scandal. How sad we are.
I am not a welfare recipient but I do go to the casinos. I refuse to use the casino ATM because their rates are double that of other ATM's. That being said, if I was a welfare recipient, I would obtain my gambling cash anywhere but the casino. So stopping the casinos and strip clubs ATM from dispensing cash is a stupid solution to the welfare waste. Right now, you can't use your debit or credit card to pay for your lottery gambling , but it doesn't stop people from getting cash from 1000's to play.
While I'm not on public assistance, the best buys I get for food and nutrition come from places that only take cash, the local farmer's market.
If I ever end up on public assistance, and sometimes it's only the grace of God or the fickle nature of fortune that has made it thus far not the case, I sure would like to continuing purchasing fresh local produce from folks that only take cash.
Just one more thing to think about in this tricky situation.
they should cancel all the cards that were issued in the last six months. why should they be able to take money out on the food stamp card and everyone else has to use it the way it is suppose to be used. They will know who is doing what with there cards. The people that are taking advantage to this flaw in the system is making it rough for the people who truely need the foodstamps.