Robert Winner


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Should welfare cards be used for cash at Marijuana shops and strip clubs in Colorado?

Making the news in Colorado welfare cards are being used for withdrawals in Marijuana shops and strip clubs.

The Senate State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee voted 3-2 along party lines against a GOP proposal to add marijuana shops to the list of places where recipients of public assistance can’t use their government-issued EBT cards to access cash.

The list already includes casinos, liquor stores and gun shops.

Is recreational use of Pot the intended use of the cards? How about withdrawals at strip clubs where you have already paid a cover charge to get in.

They are already operating an industry which is not allowed under federal law but not enforced. Now using taxpayers money to buy pot and go to strip shows. Are federal funds a part of the state welfare system? Is a investigation in the future by either federal or state agencies? Should it be?

Are these abuses? Should cash withdrawals be alowed at all?

This is not about pot good or bad. The debate is about if this is a abuse of taxpayers money.

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    Mar 12 2014: Welfare was instituted to help people get past bad times. It was never intended to become an alternative to working. I believe that using welfare for anything other than to provide food, shelter, and clothing to be an abuse of tax dollars. What people do with their money is their business. What they do with our money (meaning the taxpayer) should be our business.
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      Mar 13 2014: Thank you, Mr. Bourque. Billions and billions of tax dollars paid by hardworking people wasted every year. It's not right!
  • Gail G3

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    Apr 9 2014: You can't separate the pot argument from your central argument. It would be far better to allow people to grow pot than to build legislative barriers around it. As someone who enjoys an occasional joint, I know the help it has given me. Casinos, liquor stores, and strip clubs would be a true abuse.
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      Apr 9 2014: Gail, let me put this joint down and I will reply. I like your idea of using my welfare card at casinos, liquor stores, and strip clubs, now that's real Obamacare.
  • Mar 29 2014: Oh here we go again-

    First the article is from FOX- surprise!

    Second the article gives absolutely no credible source for the info:

    "In one month, records show 19 different marijuana retail stores had at least one welfare recipient walk into their business, insert a Quest debit card into an ATM machine inside the store, then withdraw at least $20 cash."

    So that means 19 people in one month may have used a debit card to withdraw some cash but no evidence at all it was used to purchase pot and to put that in perspective those same stores sold MILLIONS of dollars of merchandise and those stores do not just sell marijuana.

    This is just another lame attempt by the GOP that hates people on welfare and hates people that smoke pot and wants to control the freedom of others.

    No this is not about whether it is abuse of tax payer money because many of those same people were probably working for many years in their lives and paid taxes just like you and when YOU go get your cash and use it to buy beer and ciggs instead of food no one harasses you- but maybe we should!
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      Mar 22 2014: I call these people generational welfare ... I was raised in the slums and know how these people work the system. My friends had $150 sneakers, a $75 pullover by Armor and $75 pants ... and in their closet was silk suits. They never went to bars ... they went to night clubs with a health entrance charge and $8 drinks.` They always had a "nice" ride. I can talk about it because I have been there and own the T shirt.

      In Viet Nam our church sent goods to the Orphanages ... the good stuff never made it off the dock ... the clothing was taken downtown and sold on the streets ... the Bibles made it to the destination. Not all are bad. One church has people at the sending end and people at the receiving end and then they transport it and distribute it ... 100% of the intended gets there. A lesson well learned and corrective action taken.

      Perhaps goods are the better means. The family reports and gets a box of stuff. A close working relationship for power could be worked out at reduced rates and set to DES for payment. Even rent could be paid the same way. In this the day of computers this is not difficult or costly.

      This would be a hand up .... not a hand out. You want the goods a random drug test will occur .... after all I had to take one to get my job which pays for your "free" stuff.

      Time to stop the gravey train for those who are exploiting it .... but still serve the kids.

      Thanks for the reply. Be well. Bob.
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        Mar 28 2014: if money was incorruptible i would in general agree. but currently we taxpayer currently subsidized all of brazil's cotton industry. the irony is our money is made from cotton. so we pay with cotton to make cotton cheaper

        yeah corruption
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          Mar 28 2014: Casey, The question is should foodstamp EBTs be used to get cash at Marijuna shops and strip bars.
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      Mar 21 2014: Carolyn, I do not hate your answer. You are who you are and never attempt to conceal that and I appreciate that fact.

      When we write a question we do not define all parameters. Over 70% of the people on welfare in the USA are children. When I address conduct such as drugs, alcohol, strip clubs my thoughts are that the money was not intended for that purpose and that the parent is being selfish and inconsiderate to his family and his responsibilities.

      I would never suggest or condon alcohol or drugs as a means of resolving depression ... if anything it compounds the problem.

      To remain consistant I use the National Debit Clock ... if you go to the right side you will see official unemployed ... real unemployed ... living ion poverty ... on food stamps ... etc Right in the center top where it says US DEBIT CLOCK.ORG can put you arrow over any box and the explaination and source for that info will show up in that box. By the way you can go to the box that says world debit clock and see Canada as well as others.

      So the 46 million on food stamps would tell us that 70% are children .. or 32,200,000 kids and that Carylon is where my attention is directed.

      Adults make choices and have knowledge of the consequences ... kids do not have options.

      I always enjoy your conversatins and responses. Thanx .... Bob.
  • Apr 10 2014: Robert Winner, can you please clarify for me what you mean by 'government-issued EBT cards to access cash'? In my state, Texas, the EBT cards DO NOT allow you to access cash. They are for food only. Other programs, such as Unemployment Insurance, do allow cash withdrawls. So, are you talking about Federal programs such as SS Disability, Unemployment or Medicaid? Or are you discussing Food Stamps? Because when the States administer the programs there are differences from state to state that don't occur on Federal programs.

    As mentioned, here in Texas the EBT cards only allow purchases of food. Yes, you can buy things like Lobster and Filet Mignon, which is a bit irksome. They do not allow for soap, batteries, clothes, alcholol, cigs or medicines. Food is even limited to non-processed food - for example you can buy raw chicken but you cannot buy a chicken sandwich at McDonalds. No cash withdrawls are possible. So I'm confused if you are talking about other forms of assistance, or if the rules are different in your state.
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      Apr 10 2014: Martin, You give me to much credit. These are not my thoughts. I included the source. This is occuring in Colorado ... I live in Arizona.

      If you uncover research that make this article bogus ... by all means share it.

      Thanks. Bob.
      • Apr 10 2014: I think we both fell into the trap of people who lump all forms of assistance into 'welfare'. EBT cards have rules which prevent the actions described. Welfare, Unemployment, SSI, etc. establish an account where the money can be used normally, for any purpose. Supposedly people use this money to pay rent, utilities, normal bills, etc. Its a normal ATM card. I agree that a withdrawl at a strip club or bar probably means that money is being used for 'unnecessary' purchases, because its common sense that you don't pay a cover charge to get into a topless bar just so that you can use the ATM. So attempting to limit the abuse by preventing locations such as those from dispensing cash also makes good sense.

        That, of course, does nothing to stop them from hitting a normal ATM across the street before they get there. So its just 'feel-good' legslation that actually accomplishes nothing but increased costs due to regulation. Its just something a Tea-Party politician would use to pad his resume, claiming to have prevented the waste of our tax dollars in topless bars, when in reality it increases the costs of the program and is easily gotten around.

        I blame the 'zero tolerance' mindset for these discussions. Any program will have some fraud. Steps should be taken to limit fraud. But instead of rational discussions and acceptance that there will be some Bad with a whole lot of Good, people believe everything is Bad. One side claims every penny is spent buying wholesome meals and homes for starving children who will die in 5 minutes if the help is pulled. The other claims every penny is spent on drugs. Both are wrong.
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          Apr 10 2014: I really liked para 1 and 3. Para two was political. As you say both sides are wrong. I agree also that most of us tend to think the worst ... including me.

          Great reply. Bob.
  • Apr 9 2014: This is a very emotional subject. That means most people have already made up their minds one way or another and pesky things like Facts will have little influence. But, Hey, I'm a bit of a fool so I'll try to interject some Facts anyway:

    1. Yes, it is very possible to disallow the purchase of certain types of goods with EBT. In fact it is already done. You can't purchase booze, ciggarettes, soap or things like magazines and batteries. I dont' think you can purchase clothes.

    2. Yes, stores collect purchasing info and a central governement db could hold all EBT purchase data, which they could mine for 'unsavory' purchasing. It upsets me that people buy lobster and steaks with EBT cards, but in light of the NSA disclosures, do you really want to give the govt any more power?

    3. EBT (Foodstamps) are different from direct payments such as welfare or unemployment. You can't get cash from your EBT card.

    4. Giving out actual sacks of flour/canned goods/etc may emotionally appeal to those who would wish to end these programs, but it costs a tremendous amount of money to do that - much more than allowing purchases at stores. In other words, it may feel good but its wasteful.

    5. Fraud should certainly be prosecuted, but it is very limited. There is no rampant fraud where 'most' people are cheats. Try 1-2%, just like any other program.

    6. Regulation of the cash payments such as unemployment insurance would cost billions. Its cheaper to allow people to buy what they want than to maintain a list of approved landlords, for example. Stop access in strip clubs, booze stores, casinos if you want - the supposed 'Sin Tax' items.

    I worked for a Fortune 50 food distribution company for 10 years. Stocking special items, such as 50-lb sacks of flower intended only for use by welfare, would cost a tremendous amount of space and money. Its cheaper to allow the purchase of normal consumer items.
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    Mar 28 2014: As long as Walmart is a for profit business then yes
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      Mar 28 2014: Please explain .... I don't get the connection.
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          Mar 28 2014: Casey, You have made a great argument to eliminate big government. WalMart garners 18% of the welfare food stamps. When price is more important, WalMart becomes more relevant. The article also says that JP Morgan is making a killing off of the increased unemployment. I do not see anywhere that the article says the taxpayers are gaining anything. It did however mention that there has been an explosion of welfare under Obama .... which is also a sign of big government ... job loss.

          The article did not break down where the other 82% of the billions and billions of dollars go.

          I agree that big government aways means more profit to the big companies ....

          However, the question was not should food stamps be spent at Walmart .... the question is should food stamp EBTs be used to get cash at Marijuna shops and strip bars. Is that the intended use of the card?
  • Mar 18 2014: I like the questions you pose......

    Have you considered also the possibility that Welfare, like the Public Education System and the Media Industrial Complex system, are systems that Suppress?

    Have you considered also the possibility that the Military Industrial Complex, which weaves it's deep roots throughout our country, is a system of Welfare?

    great day!
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      Mar 18 2014: Yes that is not JUST a possibility, in my opinion. The march to socialism is at full speed. Welfare is a disease that takes the pride and work ethic of the citizen while draining resources ... the educational system has been in freefall and is called the dumbing down of America by many ... the media has lost objectivity and is fully in support and control of the political machine.

      I cannot as readily associate the military industrial complex in the manner that you suggest. Do you infer that it is government funded and a major user of taxpayers money?

      Please expand.

      Thanks for the reply. Bob.
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    Mar 18 2014: Interesting question!

    I wonder when the more numerous 'art' in tax deduction for business lunches, upper class company cars, donation receipts, letter-box companies, bail-outs and other forms of write-offs and tax evasion practices will be seen as an 'abuse of taxpayers money' as well.

    Somehow mainly abuse in well-fare gets into the limelight. Is this to keep the shadow on the bigger problems which are usually 'to big to fail?
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    Mar 16 2014: I agree with Bryan, workfare not welfare! No restrictions on income. Tough love.
  • Mar 16 2014: Ban welfare.
    Problem solved.
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      Mar 16 2014: Bryan, I still believe in a hand up but agree that we should stop the hand out. Welfare should be to provide essentials until the need no longer exists ... temporary ... not a entitlement or lifestyle.

      The government declaration that the work week is 30 hours not 40, has set this "temporary" process back years. You now work two jobs for less money and fewer if any benefits. Not all change is good ... unless you own a insurance company .. they are racking up big profits thanks to the federal government at the expense of the taxpayers. The elimination of the middle class is well under way.

      Thanks for the reply.
      • Mar 16 2014: What's wrong with using that money to hire people? Sidewalks are not being repaired. Parks are not being mowed or cleaned up. It's dignified, respectable work. I did mowing and watering as a job for a while. But, no, liberals scream "IT'S SLAVERY!" because it's not a free-for-nothing handout. And if some of these people need daycare, then hire some of them to work the daycare while the other folks work the other jobs. It's not really a free market, but it's better than handouts.
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          Mar 16 2014: Yep ya got me. I agree that putting them to work is a great idea. As you said it beats a hand outs. Now you can spend that money on any thing you want ... even drugs ... your choice.

          Thanks for the reply. Bob.
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    Mar 16 2014: One of the tragic ironies at the junction of capitalism and socialism is that welfare programs benefit not only the recipient, but also the economy as a whole.
    Social welfare programs such as the ones in the USA represent, more or less, a hybrid kind of economy. It has no name, just a kind of tension between those who push for more welfare programs/benefits and those who want to strip them bare in the name of some capitalistic ideal.

    For better or for worse, strip clubs and marijuana shops, casinos, liqueur stores and yes, even gun shops are all part of the US economy. Let the welfare benefits paid for by taxpayers flow back into the economy in as many ways as possible.
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      Mar 16 2014: Jim, It could also be argued that the cash goes to dealers on the street and back to Columbia, not in circulation. Also that the buyers shoot up and go to hospitals at the taxpayers expense. Or that they make one buy with taxpayer money then rob, steal, prostitute, etc ... for the rest of the durg needs. That does help the economy ... the people they rob must replace the goods the drug people stole to support their drug habits.

      We, the police, arrest the theives ... the tax payers support them for a while .. the liberal courts release them ... and the circle begins all over again.

      Yes there are those who want more programs but no one wants it stripped bare. They do want "entitlements" to be stopped. Liberal socalists have developed generational welfare where the will to work is overcome by total "nanny" government support as their "right" / "entitlement" / "you owe me generations". If to correct this is, as you say, "... some Capitalist ideal", then you have convienced me that the Capitalist ideal is the right way to go.

      The "welfare" is designed to provide families with essentials until the need no longer exists. I do not consider drugs, gamboling, prostitution, drinking, as a way to provide essentials to your wife and kids.

      If you still think this is the right and responsible action of the parent / spouse, that is your choice.

      I disagree. I consider it irresponsible, self centered, and destuctive to the person, the family, and society.

      Thanks for the reply. Bob.
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        Mar 16 2014: Not everyone has found the same set of values that you and I have. The percentage of welfare abuse is small. Intolerance is as destructive in its own way - if not more -then welfare abuse.

        The problems associated with welfare abuse is as old as the program itself. I would suggest a more nuanced, compassionate approach to minimizing the problem
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          Mar 16 2014: The puratians had it right when they came to America ... their law was ... if you did not work or contribute you did not reap the benefits either .. such as food and housing. To promote generational welfare families is enabaling unacceptable behavior.

          I support a hand up .... I refuse a hand out policy.

          I was raised on the streets and later in a orphanage ... I have been there and done that and have seen the widespread abuse of the system. Those people laugh at the system as being made of weak people ... they only respect (and hate) strength. In my neighborhood they sold drugs ... stole ... extorted ... pimped .. and expected their welfare as their "right".

          Hope you don't mind if I disagree with you ... the percentage of abuse is very large ... the system makes it possible.

          Been there. Bob.
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        Mar 16 2014: You paint with a very broad brush.
    • Mar 16 2014: Why not employ these people? Why were the WPA and PWA okay and progressive 80 years ago but now are EEEEEEEEEEEEVIL? Why must it be a handout?
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        Mar 16 2014: I do like this concept.
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    Mar 15 2014: Why not. Should we draw a line now? You can use that card to buy half gallon jugs of sugar free soda, over sweetened cereals in 50 varieties, and the chips all deep fired in "good fat". And this is all the good stuff you see being bought with the cards. What am I saying.... Billions of tax dollars are made available for people in need to buy food. But, the government doesn't limit the purchase to meats, fruits and vegetables and basic corbs: like bread, rice. Hey, some coffee, milk and tea maybe.
    No, just about anything in a market is good to go, Even better, people get the cards and use earned cash to buy cigarettes, alcohol. Now, people need help and should be helped, but the method of giving out these cards is rife with fraud, and misuse and rather inane rules that allow the fraud and misuse.
    So why not a little grass and a cheap thrill.... works for me.
  • Mar 15 2014: Many states have the same problem with welfare and food stamps - In NY, they issued credit cards which are updated every month. They found that many were used at ATMs at liqueur stores and liqueur was bought with the cash. This is one of the major questions - there are many that need the money and use it correctly and some even get off welfare. How do we stop the mis-users without hurting the ones that need and will use the help correctly?
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      Mar 15 2014: In the age of computers and all sorts of electronics this is not a really hard question to address. First they know the card is being abused ... through computer tracking they also know who uses it properly ... grocery stores know what, when, how much, and what brand I shop for. So Jane Doe shops a XYC grocery and averages $100 a week with a $500 monthly availability ... move on she is a good guy.

      John Shmuck cashes his card at the ABC Booze to go ... He gets $200 a pop four time a week ... his card is never used at the grocery or to pay for acceptable goods/rent/etc ... Call him in and explain the rules. One time only shot across the bow before losing his benefits. The problem is will his family suffer? There is a way to do that also. The wife can go to Good Grub Grocery at four o'clock and get her goods and I show up and use a card for her family. If I give her the card he will just make her get the cash he used to do for himself.

      Maybe a red card valid at grocery stores only and only with a picture identification no cash and only approved items. The card is run first and the computer rejects items not authorized like booze.

      I know a family who needed tempory assistance and tried to get off welfare but was not allowed as they must be on for a specific amount of time even though they no longer qualified.

      Your right it is a messed up system ... but billions are being flushed down the drain .... we must do something .... anything .... even if it is wrong ... that is better than doing nothing.

      Maybe a committee of concerned citizens could come up with what works locally and present it to the powers that be.

      The question is that abuse is so prominate that maybe the system just doesn't care .... stimulus to the citizen. If they cared they would already be doing something. Colorado voted to do nothing along party lines.

      just random thoughts.

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        Mar 15 2014: You are right Bob, Cards can be made to limit to certain foods, and be used to track fraud and provide help to those in need. But,
        All those adult card holders are voters and I have to believe that they are all needed each and everyone, so a strip club, a dime bag, and huge bags of cheetos' are of little importance.
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          Mar 15 2014: Big money savings could be realized by having a few distribution centers around town that give authorized people a "box" of goods. It would provide the control .... but as usual it does not answer the political questions and protecting votes for those who believe in "entitlements" and vote for those who sponsor them.

          However, the first reports are in. Colorado gains almost one billion dollars in tax revenue for the first month of drug sales. Many states are looking at resolving their financial and economic problems by legalizing recreational drugs.

          That begs the question of federal enforcement .... this practice is against federal law as are illegal aliens ... we are seeing selective enforcement for political gains. What next?

          Thanks for the reply. Be well my friend. Bob.
      • Mar 15 2014: agreed unfortunately we have government and some government employees that in the way. Many years ago, I modernized a state's unemployment insurance system from a 2nd generation system to a 3rd+ generation system. I had one department head wanted every transaction recorded on punch cards so that if the system and all the backups failed (we had disaster recovery system and off site backups) he would be reload the entire system from cards - even if it would take forever. He also wanted the clerks to validate the screen from a hard copy.

        I went back 5 years later and he had an entire office filled with punched cards which no one read or looked at. The printouts were never used. Think he wanted a manual system. 8>))
      • Apr 10 2014: Robert, when I was getting Unemployment in 2008 I was issued a card and account at a different bank than what I used. Each month I would pull out almost all the money in cash which I would then go deposit at my main bank so the automated mortgage payment would not fail. I chose cash because a Cashiers Check cost $5.00. If your analysis proposal for John Schmuck above was applied, my activities would certainly have raised a red flag. What right does the government have to scrutinize my finances in that way? Sure, I'd be exonerated - probably after my benefits were 'temporarily' suspended, my mortgage check bounced, my credit ruined and my house forclosed. You really want to ruin me to catch someone getting a lap dance? When I'm exonerated can I sue the government? How much will THAT cost?
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          Apr 10 2014: That could have been a auto elecronic transfer .... and advice to the agency as to the whys ... many other combinations come to mind.

          Be well. Bob.
  • Mar 13 2014: We "Should" return to a 1950s tax code, THEN, when you can't walk outyour front door without tripping over a help wanted sign, abolish EBT.

    Until then, the question is moot. We have to dump $1.5T debt a year into the economy to fund our massive imbalances, so it may as well be dumped into the economy on pot and hookers..... One way or another, the rich will get richer and everyone else will get further and further into debt.
  • Mar 12 2014: No, people on welfare should only be using that on food and necessities. But alot of the people on welfare are just to lazy to get a job. In all honesty you should only be aloud to have welfare, if you are working at a job that pays less then 60k a year. I know people cannot get jobs, but the main reason that happens, is because they only apply for one and once they get a no they say, "oh well I tried, hey look at this there's welfare I'm gooooood."
    • Apr 10 2014: Riley, you realize that the median household income in America is around $50,000 per year, right? For an entire household. At 60k you'd increase the program to more than half of America. When I was on Unemployment Insurance in 2008 the 20k per year I got from that was too much money to qualify for Food Stamps.

      So do you live in downtown Manhattan or some other high-priced area? Are you a Trust Fund Baby who doesn't have a clue what the average American has to work with? Was it a typo? Romney is that you?