Health care, even for the poor, needs some co-pay or we all over-pay. That price signal, even a small one, smartens us up before we head to the doc for a sneeze. The perfect proof is the chaos, waste and empty shelves at two Walmart stores last week when the US system that verifies the electronic balance on food stamp cards went down.
Last week every Walmart store in the country except two stopped doing EBT sales because there was no way to tell how much stuff a welfare customer was entitled to. The "compassionate" stores decided to let people decide for themselves how much they should take when there's no price signal to say TOO MUCH. Sounds compassionate? How about destructive. Excerpts from KSLA story:
Kayla Whaling, a spokesperson for Walmart:says , "We did make the decision to continue to accept
EBT cards .... during the outage so that they could get food for their families" (Sounds good, doesn't it?)
The chaos that followed ultimately required intervention from local police, and left behind numerous carts filled to overflowing, apparently abandoned when the glitch-spurred shopping frenzy ended. Springhill Police Chief Will Lynd confirms they were called in to help the employees at Walmart because there were so many people clearing off the shelves. the cards weren't showing limits and they called corporate Walmart, whose spokesman said to let the people use the cards anyway. From 7 to 9 p.m., people were loading up their carts, but when the cards began showing limits again around 9, one woman was detained because she rang up a bill of $700.00 and only had .49 on her card. She was held by police until corporate Walmart said they wouldn't press charges if she left the food.
Lynd says at 9 p.m., when the cards came back online and it was announced over the loud speaker, people just left their carts full of food in the aisles and left. "Just about everything is gone, I've never seen it in that condition," said Mansfield Walmart customer Anthony Fuller. Walmart employees could still be seen putting food from the carts away as late as Sunday afternoon.
You gotta have price signals.