Mandeville, LA – Exclusive Transcript – What happened in that Wal-Mart in Louisiana on Saturday? This is being dubbed now as the “Louisiana heist” in the towns of Mansfield and Springhill. I don’t live near either one of the two. What happened? The EBT card system apparently, run by the Xerox Corporation, went caput for a little while while the servers were being updated or whatever it was that Xerox was doing on Saturday. Many people were being denied or their cards were not being honored because the system couldn’t be accessed. Check out today’s transcript for the rest…
Begin Mike Church Show Transcript
Mike: What happened in that Wal-Mart in Louisiana on Saturday? This is being dubbed now as the “Louisiana heist” in the towns of Mansfield and Springhill. I don’t live near either one of the two. What happened? The EBT card system apparently, run by the Xerox Corporation, went caput for a little while while the servers were being updated or whatever it was that Xerox was doing on Saturday. Many people were being denied or their cards were not being honored because the system couldn’t be accessed.
What happened was, in these Wal-Mart stores in Mansfield and in Springhill, what had happened is that the management of those particular Wal-Marts made the executive decision that since they could not ascertain or could not determine what someone’s actual spending limit was or what remained on the EBT card to be spent, since they couldn’t determine it, they would just allow people to be the gauge of their own spending. In other words, there was no spending limit. The result was a melee, a free-for-all, damn near a riot where the food shelves in those two particular Wal-Marts were left nearly completely bare. You and I are going to have to pay for it, but no one is going to have to pay this back. As Charles Cooke points out at National Review Online late last night, this was a crime. This was theft. This was outright, overt theft.
Here’s what’s even more disturbing: we are constantly told that all the people who are on whatever forms of government assistance, that they’re the greatest, most grandest, most highly moral and virtuous people that God ever placed on Earth and all they need is a second chance. All they need at redemption is just a helping hand up. If you just give them a helping hand up, you’d see. You’d see they’d be the greatest citizens among us. When the opportunity presents itself to be rudderless, soulless, amoral and indeed criminal, what happened? I don’t know that everyone that was in the store participated in this. I can’t say that all who are on these programs are of the — I would say we have the criminally insane. Instead of the criminally insane, we now have the governmentally insane, people who have been taught and conditioned their entire lives that all the world is their stage and it is their shopping ground. No matter what it is they desire, there is some kind of a State-sponsored program for them to achieve it.
The State-sponsored program is outside of the old-fashioned way of going out and actually achieving and earning what is necessary to procure the thing longed for itself. This is a major problem. If you were to extrapolate this out — we know there are what, over 40 million American souls now that are on food and housing and energy and health and other forms of welfare state assistance. If we’re to extrapolate this out, especially for those that have become conditioned to this and exist on these programs as a way of life, look at what happens when there is an opportunity to loot, when there is an opportunity — AG, what’s your favorite TV show, Breaking Bad — when there is an opportunity to break bad. Look at what happens. Does the virtue and nobility of the poor kick in, or have we forgotten and has the entire Western civilization now forgotten to chasten the poor that are the recipients with heavy doses of humility and heavy doses of “I really shouldn’t be on this and accepting this because it’s not the right thing to do, and I’m going to get off it as soon as I can.” What does that statement that I just gave you require? That statement requires humility. There is a level of shame then associated with this. We have chased all shame out of the wealth transfer business. It’s shameful to not take it now. You’re a dummy if you don’t steal, if you don’t loot when you’re given the opportunity.
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Since our new God is the State, and since the State makes the rules or sets the canon, the scripture and the articles of faith, the sacraments of our new faith, then we see the utility and usefulness of those restrictions when they are played out in Mansfield and Springhill in Wal-Marts in Louisiana Saturday night last. What can you conclude from this? You can conclude several different things, and all of them are bad. All of them are bad. Not only is this disappointing, and you would say that this should be disappointing, this is an indictment of what our federal overlords inside Mordor on the Potomac River and all the peoples of all the states that have gone along with this for decades upon decades now, this is the society and this is the moral turpitude of the people that you have created since you replaced God and kicked him out, and since you took over as almighty mystic supreme ruler and then began to purport that all that is needed for people to be virtuous and to be good natured and what have you is a job, is some sort of economic comfort. As I have always believed, and as I think you can read, classically speaking, the financial portion of wealth is the least of its constituent parts. I think that’s what we’re dealing with here.
Charles Cooke has a blistering critique of this posted at National Review Online today under the title “Louisiana Heist.” This is in today’s Pile of Prep if you’d like to read it. “Food-stamp fraudsters should be punished to the full extent of the law.” [mocking] “You heartless, cold, callous bastard! You’re going to punish these people? You’re going to punish these people after what they suffered on Saturday?” In case you haven’t heard what actually happened, here’s a quick rundown.
At Walmarts in the towns of Springhill and Mansfield, employees called corporate headquarters to ask what they should do. They were instructed to “keep the registers ringing.” This they did — and with a vengeance.
By the time that proper limits on the cards had been restored a couple of hours later, the shelves had been all but stripped bare. “Just about everything is gone, I’ve never seen it in that condition,” Anthony Fuller, a customer in Mansfield, told the press. Will Lyn, the chief of police in nearby Springhill, agreed, telling the Daily Mail that “it was definitely worse than Black Friday. It was worse than anything we had ever seen in this town. There was no food left on any of the shelves, and no meat left. The grocery part of Walmart was totally decimated.” One man even managed to spend $700.
“I saw people drag out eight to ten grocery carts,” Lynd reported. Those who did not manage to take advantage in time simply abandoned their hauls in the middle of the aisles.
“Contrary to rumors,” CBS proclaimed, “nobody was unruly or arrested and [the police] were mainly there to help prevent shoplifting and theft.” Given the circumstances, “preventing theft” is a rather peculiar way of describing the behavior of officers who stood and watched the incident. Whether or not local authorities had legal cause to arrest the shoppers on the spot, there really should be no doubt that widespread theft took place — or, perhaps, that widespread fraud took place. Neither that the beneficiaries evidently believe that they could get away with it, nor that the victim was the unsympathetically anonymous mass of Louisianan and federal taxpayers alters the plain fact. This was a crime.
Uttering 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. [Mike: Really!? So theft is a natural reaction? And this is how you explain this? Wow!] 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. [Mike: In other words, who they stole from was you and me and the rest of us who are forcibly taxed to pay for the grandiose schemes and designs of what is called today the “safety net.”]
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?
That so many people apparently did not recognize that they were stealing is problematic. In the January 23, 2012, issue of National Review, Daniel Foster wrote an essay on the necessity of “restoring a measure of shame to the welfare state.” By way of illustration, Foster focused on the movie Cinderella Man and discussed the behavior of its central character, Jimmy Braddock, who reluctantly takes public assistance when he feels he has no choice:
Mike Church Show Transcript – Why We’re Called to Give The Shirts Off Our Backs To The Poor & The Government Isn’t
“Braddock owes no apologies for doing whatever it takes to keep his family together. But Braddock is sorry nonetheless, and more important, he’s ashamed. It’s a shame so powerful that it kept Braddock from looking for a handout until he had exhausted all other possibilities. And it’s a shame so powerful that by the end of the second act, with Braddock well on his way to the miraculous championship bout that gives the film its title and its central metaphor, he returns every cent of charity he ever took.”
“To argue this,” Foster concludes, “is not, as some would no doubt imply, to argue for the wholesale dissolution of the welfare state.” Instead, it is to argue that shame is “the social virtue most critical to the success of the American project,” for “the only society that can make entitlements work is one that doesn’t feel entitled.”
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.
Conservatives are fond of repeating the old line that the republic “can only exist until the majority discovers it can vote itself largess out of the public treasury.” In Louisiana this weekend, many citizens got the opportunity to do this without even having to bother to vote — and they took it. Whatever legitimate disagreements there are about the role of democracy in a free society, there should be none here. This was theft, pure and simple, and its perpetrators should be treated as any other thief would be.
Mike: I wonder, as the marauders were loading up five, six seven, and by some accounts eight shopping carts full of groceries when they discovered their EBT cards had no limits, I wonder if all of the foods were actually scanned and then assigned a potential EBT cardholder as being responsible for the payment. How would you then go after that? What, do you send them a bill? Because there’s supposed to be a limit on this, and they know there’s supposed to be a limit on this, and there was no limit, was the intent theft? I’d say it was.
For example, if you know that you have a credit card in your wallet and it has a $500 limit on it, and you can actually get on your phone and see you have $380 you can use. You go somewhere to go shopping and you see something that’s a lot more than $380, more like $1,020, but I want it and gotta have it. Would you go and try to use the card anyway, hoping that the Capital One Vikings would not be onto your game? Or would you decide that you’re going to come back and revisit this on another day and put the product — if you go to Kmart, I think they’ve revived this thing called layaway. How fuddy-duddy and ancient and anachronistic is that? Who even knows what that is anymore? Would you save it for another day or just go ahead and tack on the $800 in excess to the Capital One Viking card and let the Vikings deal with it? The Vikings are going to come after you. They’re going to make you pay it back. You have broken the rules by which the Vikings asked you to live, which is why they placed a limit on the card to start with. In the case of the Capital One Viking card, you have broken the agreement that you yourself made when you accepted the card. This happens from time to time. I’ve gone over by $15 in a billing cycle just because I didn’t calculate correctly the sales tax or something stupid like that when I’ve used cards. I have cards with very low limits on them so I can’t get in trouble with them.
Some of it is understandable. But when you get into the realm of intentionally doing it, aren’t you violating contract? Isn’t this a part of what’s supposed to keep a free and civil society together, that we honor contracts? Basically the basis of the Constitution is that it’s an agreement and a contract between consenting parties, or a compact, and it’s only as good as long as the parties that agreed to be bound by it are actually bound by it. Did those that chocked their shopping carts filled with fix or six times the excess of what could possibly have been on their cards and they had to know, did they believe that in the action of doing this that they were actually going to take the groceries home and never hear anything else about it? In other words, it would be impossible to track it. Then what did they commit? If my assessment of the situation is correct, they committed theft. They committed theft in the name of people of the United States who were kind enough to not revolt against their government when it taxes them to the hilt in order to support these very programs.
I began this by asking the question: Where are the noble poor? Where is the Braddock-like shame that society and those that live in the society used to feel towards these things? This is a virtue and we get virtues from our institutions of faith. We know where the institutions of faith are failing at these days. The institution of government is a lousy place to teach virtues. It’s a lousy institution to rely on to teach the virtues and the morals of living, which is why it should never play philanthropist to start with.
End Mike Church Show Transcript