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EBT Chaos Tame Compared to Coming Riots in America

by Jennifer Robinson on October 15, 2013 · 4 comments

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Last weekend’s EBT failure is merely a foreshadowing of what lies ahead for a nation nearing insolvency.

by Jennifer Robinson, FTMDaily Managing Editor

EBT Failure Blamed on Technical “Glitch”

Americans who depend on food stamps were unpleasantly shocked when they discovered that their EBT (Electronic Benefits Transfer) cards failed to work last Saturday. EBT payment systems were down in 17 states, including Oklahoma, Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi, four of the ten poorest states in the nation.

Xerox, the company responsible for running the EBT system in those 17 states, blamed the outage on a “glitch” in the system during a routine back-up test. Here is the official statement from Xerox:

During a routine test of our back-up systems Saturday morning, Xerox’s Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) system experienced a temporary shutdown. While the system is now up and running, beneficiaries in the 17 affected states continue to experience connectivity issues to access their benefits. This disruption impacts EBT beneficiaries who rely on the system for SNAP and WIC. Technical staff is addressing the issue and expect the system to be restored soon.

U.S. Department of Agriculture spokeswoman Courtney Rowe publicly underscored that the outage was not related to the government shutdown after countless social media posts and news outlets initially blamed the outage on the gridlock in Washington.

EBT cards were back up and running the same day, and food stamp recipients were able to load up their shopping carts with a major sigh of relief.

Mixed Reaction to the Outage, Mostly Chaotic

In many areas affected by the EBT failure, food stamp recipients resorted to abandoning their full shopping carts and walking out empty-handed, as they had no way to pay for their groceries. In other areas, an emergency voucher process was available to manually verify benefit availability for shoppers. Furthermore, in two towns in Louisiana, EBT cards showed no spending limit for a few hours, prompting food stampers to pile up as many shopping carts as they could in hopes of unlimited free food and beverage. However, once the EBT cards were back online, Wal-Mart stores were left with bare shelves and abandoned shopping carts full of un-purchased food.

The reaction to the “glitch” was nothing short of chaotic. Can you imagine being a cashier at your local grocery store during a food stamp outage? Some called the chaos a “hot mess”, while others noted that people were very mad and warned people to steer clear of the stores that day.

I was pleasantly surprised to see some Americans rallying around food stamp recipients who may have been hurting on Saturday. After all, nobody knew when the system would be up and running, and EBT cardholders were faced with the harsh reality that they may not be able to feed their families for an indefinite period of time.

It was an encouraging sign to see some people willing to put political and personal opinions aside and offer a helping hand to those who were blindsided by the system failure.

Riots are Coming to America

The EBT failure and ensuing mini-chaos should be a reminder to us that ever-increasing levels of government dependency are unsustainable and could lead to further chaos down the road. Although 1 in 7 Americans (47.7 million total) currently receive food stamps, there are millions more who are simply one application away from feeding from the government trough. The Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) claims that 1 in 4 people eligible for food stamps are not receiving them due to inadequate program access and staff capacity.

This gargantuan federal government program came with a $78.4 billion price tag in 2012, paid for by U.S. taxpayers like you and me. This cost more than doubled from 2008 to 2012, and will continue to grow as more and more Americans join the government’s payroll each month. In fact, eight out of the last 12 months have shown an increase in food stamp participation, according to FRAC.

Of course, food stamp (or SNAP) benefits are just one of the many federal programs focused on providing food to the poorest families and individuals in the country. Here is a rundown of how many Americans are dependent on the government for life’s most basic needs:

  • 47.7 million SNAP (food stamp) recipients
  • 8.9 million WIC (nutrition benefits for Women, Infants, and Children) recipients
  • 10.5 million children receive a free or reduced price breakfast every school day (2011-12 school year)
  • 19.6 million children receive a free or reduced price lunch every school day (2011-12 school year), not to mention after-school and summer nutritional programs that provide additional millions of meals each year
  • 500,000 Americans receive free food via the Commodity Supplemental Food Program

One cannot look at this list, coupled with our nation’s $17 trillion debt (increasing by the millions every minute!), and believe that current spending levels are sustainable. I believe that last weekend’s EBT failure is merely a foreshadowing of what lies ahead for America. After all, if our government’s insolvency forces them to choose whether to pay interest to China on the $3.5 trillion U.S. debt it holds or pay food stamp benefits to 47.7 million Americans, which do you think our nation’s lawmakers will choose? Regardless of the answer, it will end in revolt, either from within or abroad.

If you think the chaos during a one-day EBT outage was bad, just wait until a “glitch” in the system causes Social Security, Disability, Military pay, or countless other federal payroll checks to be delayed, reduced, or halted altogether.

Today, the livelihood of far too many Americans is utterly dependent upon the favorable decision-making of a handful of out-of-touch lawmakers, and when the decisions sway in favor of our nation’s creditors instead of millions of hungry citizens, the days of peace in America’s streets will be over.

Are you ready for a food crisis? Watch Jerry and Jennifer Robinson explain their simple food storage plan

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Scripture of the Day

“So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
Matthew 6:34

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Jennifer Robinson

Jennifer Robinson

Financial Contributor
Jennifer is a financial analyst with experience in corporate finance and the financial services industry. Jennifer is the co-host of Follow the Money Weekly radio, a show dedicated to exposing the truth about money and the economy. Jennifer is also the Managing Editor of the quarterly economic forecasting newsletter, Follow the Money Quarterly, and the National Director for the Christian Financial Advisor Network, a nationwide financial advisor referral service. Jennifer holds a Master’s Degree in Finance and enjoys operating businesses with her husband and business partner, Jerry Robinson. Jennifer’s newest joy is her role as a mother to son Jerry Robinson Jr.
Jennifer Robinson
Jennifer Robinson

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