EBT & The Obama Economy Perfectly Illustrated

Yesterday on Drudge there was a quote from Tavis Smiley (no relation to Guy Smiley) that would have gotten wide distribution if it had taken place somewhere other than Fox News:

HANNITY: Are black Americans better off five years into the Obama presidency?

SMILEY: Let me answer your question very forthrightly. No, they are not. The data is going to indicate sadly that when the Obama administration is over, black people will have lost ground in every single leading economic indicator category. On that regard, the president ought to be held responsible.

That Tavis Smiley would say this aloud is an indication of this administration’s failures but A much stronger indication of the effect of the Obama years on people of color was visible for all to see Saturday.

I hit a local supermarket to pick up a few things on the way home from work. Right away I noticed something was odd (especially on a Saturday afternoon before a Red Sox playoff game); the place seemed devoid of shoppers.

When I got to the deli counter I heard an announcement that explained it; EBT was down, and no EBT cards could be accepted. This was apparently a statewide problem.

Right after being told they were out of my wife’s favorite Sara Lee Oven Roasted Turkey breast, I finished my shopping and made note of the number of non-white customers. Normally at this location the majority of the customers would be Spanish, and I counted 3 non-white people, as if the clock had been turned back to the 80’s for the city.

EBT of course is not only the province of people of color.  As I was leaving a person whose only color was provided by her heavily tattooed body was entering the store. As I was returning my carriage I saw her leaving empty-handed.

I tweeted out my observation which prompted the following reaction


I soon found out the problem was not confined to Massachusetts.

Shoppers left carts of groceries behind at a packed Market Basket grocery store in Biddeford, Maine, because they couldn’t get their benefits, said fellow shopper Barbara Colman, of Saco, Maine. The manager put up a sign saying the EBT system was not in use. Colman, who receives the benefits, called an 800 telephone line for the program and it said the system was down due to maintenance, she said.

While the failure is not related to the shutdown there was one side effect:

The federal EBT website was unavailable due to the government shutdown.

An hour after getting home I had to take my son to work. As my wife was working a 12 hour shift but wanted something light when she got home, I figured I’d try another supermarket to find her Turkey Breast. Unlike the first the second was in a large mall area, but like the last one not only was the place devoid of people of color (I didn’t count a single one) they didn’t have the Sara Lee Oven Roasted Turkey Breast I was looking for.

I decided to try one other supermarket before going home, a place where I had bought the turkey breast before. As I pulled in the parking lot was half empty.  When I walked to the door there was a huge handwritten sign saying the EBT system was down.   After I went inside I noticed a young employee wheeling a full cart of groceries around putting things back. I asked her if there were many such carts, and  she told me she had 6 more to put back.

After being told yet again that the Sara Lee Turkey Breast was sold out I made it a point to walk through the store and count the number of customers of color.

There was 1.

I shop in these markets on a regular basis and normally they are totally integrated, but the bottom line is with the EBT card system down I could count the number of non-white customers in three supermarkets on the fingers of one hand & still have fingers left over.

Anecdotal evidence or no that’s a startling thing and if I was a liberal I’d be embarrassed by it, but not as embarrassed as I’d be if I was a person of color seeing this and asking myself:

Is not being able to buy food for our families without the government’s aid my community’s reward for giving Barack Obama our votes in overwhelming numbers?

If you want to be angry at me for saying something that’s true, that’s your call. But I submit and suggest that your anger is better directed at the administration that caused my statement to be true in the first place.

Update: An interesting follow-up plus from the Cuban Bob in Comments:

Maybe I’m a cynic but I suspect this wasn’t a problem at the Whole Foods stores in the affected states.


Olimometer 2.52

It’s Sunday a new week and  a new quest for the $305 paycheck that along with that Sarah Lee Oven Roasted Turkey Breast  I failed to get yesterday.

Hopefully you dear reader will make this week’s quest more successful (at least for the paycheck, I’d be really surprised if someone sent me the turkey breast.

But life is funny, you never know.