A routine check by Xerox Corp. resulted in residents of 17 states including Ohio, Michigan and Illinois being unable to use their food stamp EBT cards on Saturday. Xerox spokeswoman Jennifer Wasmer issued a statement saying “beneficiaries in the 17 affected states continue to experience connectivity issues to access their benefits,” despite the system being up and running. U.S. Department of Agriculture spokeswoman Courtney Rowe stated the difficulties were not related to the government shutdown.

Continued glitches on Sunday led to shoppers in some Louisiana Walmart stores emptying shelves as if it were Black Friday. Stores in Springhill and Mansfield, LA, let EBT customers buy without spending limits as stores were flooded and shelves emptied “worse than any Black Friday,” Springhill Police Chief Will Lynd told KSLA-TV. Riots in Mississippi resulted in customers leaving the store without paying even after the system had gone back online.

But who is going to pay for this? Will it be the taxpayers? Shoppers? Walmart? Didn’t these people realize what they were doing was wrong? It is nothing more than theft. An economics teacher once taught me the phrase TINSTAAFL. There is no such thing as a free lunch. Do people really think they are getting free food? Clearly some people think they are getting free healthcare. And free phones. And free housing. Don’t they understand somebody is paying for that? I understand that there are many people who rely on food stamps to feed their families. I will even admit that I used food stamps for a time in my life. But, I was working 40 hours a week to pay my bills and didn’t have much left over. But, I had a limit and knew my limit and only spent it on basic food staples that I needed. As Dave Ramsey puts it, I was living off “rice and beans and beans and rice.”

In June of 2008, participation in the The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, was at 28.6 million people. In June of this year, numbers have been reported at almost 48 million people. That’s an increase of almost 67% in 5 years. Appalling. Disgusting. Embarrassing. If Barack Obama claims to have helped the people of this country- he’s done everything but. Reports estimate that over $80 billion is spent per yer on the SNAP program. Instead of teaching people how to work, we are teaching people how to leach off the government. When work fails, government should provide for the people. That is the mentality in this country. Instead of government acting as a safety net for those who fall on hard economic times, it has become a reliable source of income for many people in this country.

I am urging the people of this country to really look at themselves. Are you proud of what you have become? Are you proud of what you are doing? I sincerely believe that if you are not at least attempting to work, you should not receive any sort of benefits from the government. But if you have a job, full- or part-time, and you can’t put food on the table for you or your family, then there should be some way for you to do that. I believe that there are many hard-working Americans who do all they can, working two, sometimes three jobs to provide for their families and sometimes need help. I understand. I understand because I have been there.

It is extremely unfortunate that people are so desperate that they would essentially steal hundreds of dollars worth of groceries. Is it really their fault? Possibly. If they have any sense of moral guidance, then they should know stealing is wrong. But, does our current political climate encourage this desperation? Our lawmakers need to stop arguing and come to the table and work out a compromised solution to turn the economy around.

Alex Braud | Maple Woods College | @AlexBraud93