Thieves As ‘Shoppers’

I can’t shake this feeling that the Louisiana Wal Mart EBT debacle is a watershed moment for America, not to mention a preview of coming attractions if we don’t abandon our headlong descent into an shameless entitlement state.

Charles C.W. Cooke has a great piece over at NRO. Be sure to read the whole thing.

imgSnapCardUttering what has become the most widely reprinted quote from the scene, a witness told local television station KSLA that stealing food when presented with the opportunity was a “natural human” reaction. If this is true, it should serve as an indictment of the society that Washington, D.C., has created, and of the vastness of a government that has disconnected so many people from the real world. We are not talking here about a moral grey area, in which starving people saw and took a rare chance to feed themselves. Instead, we are talking about people who, over and above their normal allowance, elected to steal from the millions of people from whose paychecks the food-stamp program’s funds are forcibly taken — and on whose beneficence they rely.

Indeed, even if the behavior was the product of “human nature,” merely stating this is the case does not inoculate one from the consequences. The best governments and institutions are those designed by people who recognize the contours of man’s constitution. But to recognize human nature is not necessarily to indulge it, and the people who elected to steal when afforded the opportunity should be punished by the system for having done so, as would be any other thief. Doing so, it seems, will not be too difficult. The very same electronic system that allowed recipients to take advantage of a glitch also recorded their doing so. Officials, news reports say, are not sure how to proceed. How about prosecution?

Two other elements of the MSM reportage jump out: use of the passive voice, and referring to collective thievery as “shopping.” A few samples:

CBS News: “EBT benefit card glitch sparks Walmart shopping sprees in Louisiana.”

ABC News: “Walmart Shelves Emptied After EBT Glitch.”

ABC News: “Walmart to Get Stuck With Most of Food Stamp Shopping Spree.”

Reuters: “Wal-Mart, Xerox blame each other for Louisiana shopping gone wild.”

CNBC: “EBT glitch leads to shopping sprees at Walmarts in Louisiana.”

New York Daily News: “Shopping chaos ensues in Louisiana Walmart stores after EBT cards stop showing credit limits.”

KSLA-TV: “Walmart shoppers fill carts to overflowing when EBT card system fails.” (Alternate headline: “Walmart shelves in Springhill, Mansfield, cleared in EBT glitch.”)

MSN: “EBT card glitch prompts unlimited Wal-Mart shopping sprees.”

And so on.

Notwithstanding the fact that it refers to these moral reprobates as “shoppers,” this headline is more like it:

Catholic Online: “CALL IT THEFT: Unscrupulous EBT shoppers mob Wal Mart stores after computer glitch.”

How about some of these hypothetical headlines:

“Shameless Moral Reprobates Rip Off Wal Mart.”

“Welfare Recipients Represent For Progressivism.”

Or “Your Tax Dollars At Work.”

Back to Charles C.W. Cooke:

Certainly, we can debate ad nauseam the degree to which citizens should feel ashamed for taking handouts. But what should be beyond discussion, surely, is that when a significant number of people feel so comfortable taking what others provide that they elect not only to rip the system off but to encourage others to do the same, we have a serious moral issue on our hands.

Deathly serious. A society without a moral compass and a healthy sense of shame will inevitably devolve into a police state. This is some bad mojo, people.

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