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.