It’s hard to imagine — though, unfortunately, not hard enough — how someone could come up with an idea like this:
A dollar bill is a special kind of thing. You can keep it as long as you like. You can pay for things with it. No one will ever charge you a fee. No one will ask any questions about your credit history. And other people won’t try to tell you that they know how to spend that dollar better than you do.
For these reasons, cash is one of the most valuable resources a poor person in the United States can possess. Yet legislators in Kansas, not trusting the poor to use their money wisely, have voted to limit how much cash that welfare beneficiaries can receive, effectively reducing their overall benefits, as well.
The legislature placed a daily cap of $25 on cash withdrawals beginning July 1, which will force beneficiaries to make more frequent trips to the ATM to withdraw money from the debit cards used to pay public assistance benefits.
Since there’s a fee for every withdrawal, the limit means that some families will get substantially less money.
It’s even worse if the machine only dispenses twenties: you won’t be able to get even $25 at a time.
There were, of course, justifications offered:
“There are actual reports posted as to where the ATMs were that cards were used by Kansas residents,” said state Sen. Caryn Tyson (R), the Ottawa Herald reported. She said that beneficiaries were using their cards “at liquor stores, cigarette shops, strip joints. Casinos was another. There was a $102 [withdrawal] from a person in Colorado at a Rockies baseball game. We don’t know that they spent it on the game, we don’t know what they spent it on, but the ATM was at the Rockies facility. Another one was on a cruise.”
I am less inclined to grumble about the profligacy of some Kansans than I am about the assumption that We Gotta Teach These People A Lesson. Believe me, I know what happens when the money runs out before the end of the month, and by no means am I extraordinarily bright.
Let’s see if Governor Brownback ups the ante by setting up, say, a Meals On Wheels-like gruel dispensary.