Those Versatile Government-Issued EBT CardsMelancton Smith • Tuesday January 8, 2013 5:38 AM PST •
Back in the day, the federal government issued needy people books of food stamps with which they could buy approved items such as milk, bread, and meat. Of course, an easy trick for the recipients was to present a $20 coupon for a small purchase. They would then receive cash back. With that cash, as I have witnessed before, the recipient loaded up on beer and smokes. EBT cards were supposed to make misuse of funds more difficult. The cards are used much as working folks use their own debit cards. Well, the system is not working out so well. A major problem is that welfare recipients receive food assistance and cash assistance under the federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program via the EBT cards. What is the result? According to the New York Post:
A database of 200 million Electronic Benefit Transfer records from January 2011 to July 2012, obtained by The Post through a Freedom of Information request, showed welfare recipients using their EBT cards to make dozens of cash withdrawals at ATMs inside Hank’s Saloon in Brooklyn; the Blue Door Video porn shop in the East Village; The Anchor, a sleek SoHo lounge; the Patriot Saloon in TriBeCa; and Drinks Galore, a liquor distributor in The Bronx.
One EBT machine is stationed inside Club Eleven, an infamous Hunts Point jiggle joint known as much for its violent history as its girls in pink thongs.
Cops have been cracking down on the Bronx club since 2009 and shut it down temporarily in 2010. In July, five men were stabbed and two others shot outside after bouncers broke up a 4 a.m. brawl with pepper spray. The club appeared to be shuttered when The Post visited Thursday.
Our tax dollars hard at work. Perhaps the authorities should rethink dispensing cash benefits via EBT cards. Even without the Post’s investigation, anyone with common sense would have known the results.