A woman walked into a Wal-Mart and tried to buy several iPads with her EBT card. Twice. Food stamps for iPads. Tracy Browning, a 38-year-old Louisville, Kentucky woman, allegedly attempted to purchase the Apple tablets using an Electronic Benefit Transfer card, then assaulted store employees and took off with the merchandise when it didn’t work. She was arrested when she tried to do the same thing at another Wal-Mart a few hours later.

According to Louisville police, Browning had previously been banned from all Wal-Mart locations for other incidents with the discount retailer. She’s been charged with robbery, shoplifting, and trespassing, and has been booked into the Louisville Metro jail. No word on what those prior incidences were, or if they involved theft or fancy electronics.

What the heck was she thinking? How does one justify spending welfare money on not just one iPad, but several? The EBT program is in place to help people down on their luck -- not for expensive toys. How extreme does your sense of entitlement have to be to make this decision ok?

Maybe we should change the name of the EBT program to OPM -- Other People’s Money. It seems that some people, this lady to as an extreme example, have forgotten that government handouts don’t come from the money tree on the White House lawn. The government can’t give you something without taking it away from someone else first.

We could argue all day about whether or not welfare rewards laziness, or the amount of fraud that actually occurs, or what restrictions should be placed on the kinds of food that can be purchased, but I think we can all agree that it’s nuts to expect to buy iPads with food stamps. It’s supposed to be a safety net, not a hammock.

Browning gives people that really need assistance a bad rap. We all come into hard times, which is why we have programs like TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families). No one needs an iPad, but people do need to eat, and sometimes they just don’t have the family or community available to help. Idiots like Browning don’t help the public image of welfare recipients, and that’s not fair to those responsibly using the system.

No matter how we decide to tackle the welfare issue in our country, I think it’s safe to assume that no rational person will approve of using EBT funds to buy multiple iPads at Wal-Mart. At least I hope.

What do you think was going through this woman’s mind?


Image via yto/Flickr