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Wed Feb 14, 2018, 05:04 AM

How big data is helping states kick poor people off welfare

The government monitoring of EBT card transactions sets the tone for all of our future purchases.

Hereís one example: In 2014, Maine Gov. Paul LePage released data to the public detailing over 3,000 transactions from welfare recipients using EBT cards in the state. (EBT cards are like state-issued debit cards, and can be used to disperse benefits like food stamps.)

LePage created a list of every time this money had been used in a strip club, liquor store, or bar, and used it to push his political agenda of limiting access to state benefits. LePageís list represents a tiny fraction of overall EBT withdrawals, but it effectively reinforced negative stereotypes and narratives about who relies on welfare benefits and why....

"Are we entering a kind of soft, digital tyranny that is too nebulous or distant for most of us to notice?"

Thatís a difficult question. I think that these tools allow us a moment to think deeply about what we allow government agencies to do on our behalf. These tools are incredible indicators of what we already think, both about poor working-class communities and families, and about government.

Ultimately, these systems make our values visible to us in a way that calls us to a moral reckoning. A lot of readers want me to give a 10-point plan for creating better technologies for public services, but Iíve resisted doing that because I think the real solution for us as a nation is to get our souls right about poverty. Until we do that, we will continue to produce systems that profile and punish poor and working families.


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Reply How big data is helping states kick poor people off welfare (Original post)
mia Feb 2018 OP
SWBTATTReg Feb 2018 #1
mia Feb 2018 #2
raging moderate Feb 2018 #3

Response to mia (Original post)

Wed Feb 14, 2018, 06:00 AM

1. Yes, a George Orwellian era is coming into place here...

Courts have ruled businesses and governmental agencies have the right to monitor communications. The pathway that a welfare check being deposited is one way.

Businesses and persons will get smarter in figuring out ways to get around this monitoring, not for criminal intent, but to preserve their freedoms/rights in no unreasonable searches and / or seizures.

Just because a welfare/public assistance check is cashed or deposited at one of these places doesn't mean anything nefarious is happening. May be the cheapest place around for checks to be cashed (little or no check cashing fee involved, etc.).

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Response to SWBTATTReg (Reply #1)

Wed Feb 14, 2018, 06:44 AM

2. Imagining a virtual/cashless society where all purchases & services are means tested.

No matter how hard we work and save, our funds will be seized in one way or another to be redistributed to the benefit of the 1%. Our deaths will come when we've maxed out our rights to survive. The leading cause of death will likely be dehydration.

We're all in this together and I'm grateful to have lived a long and productive working life. For now there is a safety net to take care of the children, disabled, and elderly, but there will soon come a day when all benefits will have a lifetime cap.

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Response to mia (Original post)

Wed Feb 14, 2018, 08:02 AM

3. DU Rec.

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