Ah, the Humanity of Walmart.

There’s nothing like standing in the checkout line at Walmart behind someone with a mountain of stuff in their cart, only to realize that they are paying with a Link card. For those who don’t know, the Link card is Illinois food stamps.

These people always seem to be buying WAY more items than I am. They flash their Link card around like it’s a badge of honor. If I was unfortunate enough to have to rely on food stamps, I don’t think I’d want everyone around me to know about it. But, what to me would be embarrassing apparently isn’t to many, since they make no effort to hide it.

The other thing that I can’t help but notice is WHAT they buy. Their cart is never full of ingredients for cooking balanced meals. No, instead it’s usually loaded up with junk food and frozen dinners. They either have no idea they they can stretch their money further by shopping smartly, or they just don’t care, since it’s not their money they’re spending.

This weekend I got to watch two women fill up 2 carts to overflowing with food. The older woman tried to pay with a check, which was rejected. The younger whipped our her Link card and paid, presumably for only those items that qualify for Link. Then the older woman used her check again, which passed, probably due to the reduced amount. I couldn’t help but notice the case of Coors Light in their cart, and I couldn’t help but wonder… What would they say if I asked them why they were buying beer with other people’s money? Would they feel guilt? Or would they say, “I bought that beer with MY money, and the groceries with my Link card!” Would they understand that if they didn’t use THEIR money for beer, maybe they’d have had more of THEIR money to pay for food, and wouldn’t need to use their Link card?

But, I held my peace and said nothing. The checkout line in Walmart is hardly the right place to try to educate someone about the folly of entitlement programs.

8 thoughts on “Ah, the Humanity of Walmart.”

  1. I’ve known several people with a Link card, and it definitely doesn’t encourage frugal or healthy behavior. For one thing, it doesn’t pay for pots and pans, or dish soap, or the natural gas bill. So you can go buy meat and vegetables pretty cheap, cook up a nice meal, and spend real cash on the cooking and cleaning; or you can buy frozen dinners, pop them in the microwave, and throw away the trash when you’re done. It just makes economic sense to do the latter.

    Another problem is that the convenience of the card means that the vendor has to have the electronic equipment, which isn’t cheap. So the consumer often can’t use Link at places where the food is the healthiest and often the cheapest, like at the farmer’s market or to pay a neighbor who just slaughtered a beef and has some extra to sell.

    You also get too much money. Last time I was paying attention, a single person could get $150/month and a family of 4 was getting $500. That’s not enough to have steak and lobster every night, but it doesn’t mean turnip soup, either. The Link users I knew ate mostly brand-name, packaged foods, and often had enough left on their Link card at month’s end to offer to buy me groceries and sell them to me at a discount for cash.

    Just an example of how charity shouldn’t be done at the state-wide (or nationwide) level. To make sure everyone has enough to get by, you have to give most more than they need, which encourages the wrong behavior, and after all that you still get people slipping through the cracks in the bureaucracy anyway.

  2. The whole system is disgusting. Hard work is not rewarded in our country any more. Why should these people look for jobs when our government will allow them to milk the system for years?

    I have been in line at Wal-Mart with my boyfriend, a union ironworker, myself a part-time waitress and full-time nursing student, and observed the following:

    Four men, all looked like they were in their twenties, and two women, around the same age, with two overflowing carts. All laughing, joking, having a good time. I did not see one piece of fruit, one vegetable, no cereal, milk, eggs or meat.

    Cases of energy drinks, sacks of cookies and chips, beef jerky, soda, and large bags of candy came to a $375 bill. It was paid with the Link card of one of the women, the same woman then purchased two CARTONS of cigarettes with cash.

    As my boyfriend and I were checking out, same woman emerges from Wal-Mart’s in-store liquor shop with bottles of Grey Goose vodka and Patron tequila.

    Even with our combined income, we cannot afford to drink premium liquor, and this type of abuse of the system makes me sick.

    43% of my boyfriend’s check every week is taken out for taxes, along with around 30% of mine, as I am in a lower income bracket. And yes, I pay taxes on my tips.

    People on Link should be compelled to prove that they are at least ATTEMPTING to look for work. I also believe that if you want government assistance, you should have to pass a drug test. Link also needs to be restructured so people receiving assistance are buying necessities, not Red Bull and potato chips.

  3. First of all, it is completely unfair to assume that everyone using a link card is a sumbag milking the system. I am a single mother of two and a struggling nursing student. While I do work part time, It is nowhere near enough. I use my card at sams Alot and have them butcher large cuts of meat so that they will last for a month I also use it to buy fruit, vegtables and baby formula. So the next time that you see someone loaading up their carts with redbull and chips,shake your head because I do, but also know it does go to some ppl that are not only grateful for it but aren’t using it on junk.

  4. Not everyone is this way. So this article or blog or whatever you want to call it extremely pisses me off. Some people abuse it, ye . But my boyfriend works full time, and I work just under full time, and if it wasn’t for Link, we wouldn’t eat, our child wouldn’t eat. I pay taxes, so why the hell should I not get part of it back to put food in my family’s mouth? Yes. It’s pretty embarrassing, but it’s not something I should be ashamed of. But don’t judge the people that work hard for it on the ignorance of the people that abuse the system.

    1. If you truly are low-income enough to qualify for Link, I highly doubt you’re paying any taxes. In fact, you’re most likely getting back more than you put in.

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