Saturday, March 18, 2017

People Using Welfare Money to Pay for Booze, Strip Clubs and Porn

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People Using Welfare Money to Pay for Booze, Strip Clubs and Porn

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Have you ever wondered how welfare recipients use your tax dollars?Under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, a federally operated welfare program, families and individuals are given food stamps and cash assistance which is accessed through Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards.

The New York Post also wondered how welfare recipients spend our tax dollars, so using the Freedom of Information Act, they obtained the database records of 200 million Electronic Benefit Transfers. They discovered numerous withdrawals made from ATM machines in strip clubs, liquor stores, lounges and even a porn store.

Some of the clubs where EBT withdrawals have been made from on-site ATMs have been the targets of police investigations for violence. One club in the Bronx, Club Eleven, is notorious for violence. Police temporarily shut it down in 2010, but it managed to reopen. Last July, two men were shot and five others stabbed outside the club. Club Heat, another place known for violence, was the location of a fatal shooting in December 2011. EBT cash withdrawals have also been at a gay bar and tobacco shop.

What’s even worse is that it seems that the state agency that oversees the assistance program endorses the use of the EBT ready ATM’s inside these nefarious establishments. The Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance lists a number of the EBT ready ATMs on their official website.

Michael Tanner, Senior Fellow with the CATO Institute blames the people in charge of the program for allowing it to operate this way. He commented saying:

“This is morally scandalous. I have nothing against strip clubs, but that’s not what benefits are for. I don’t blame [recipients]. If you are poor, it’s a crummy life and you want to have a drink or see a naked woman. I blame the people who are in charge of this.”

While I disagree with Tanner’s ethics, I only partially agree with him on who’s to blame. Poor or not, people should be made responsible for their own actions. I don’t believe in situation ethics. They know what they are getting the money for and they are knowingly making a choice to spend it on illicit things.

If I were in charge of such a program, I would remove the EBT access to ATMs in all non-appropriate locations. There is no need for ATMs in any location that is not appropriate for the essential assistance of the family or individual.

Secondly, I would follow up on the improper use of the EBT cards and when they are being used for non-essentials, I would suspend that person’s EBT assistance. In other words, I would clean up the system and make it such that the EBT cards can only be used for food items and to pay bills. EBT cards would not be allowed to be used to purchase alcohol, tobacco or luxury items such as TV or stereo system. Any other use of the assistance would constitute a breach of contract and thus end the assistance for the abuser.

It would help insure that the assistance funds are being used for what they were intended for – assistance with food and bills. Such a clean-up operation would also save the state and federal government millions of dollars


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