Right up there with abortion, homosexuality, and man-made global warming, few things rally liberals like “corporate greed.” Writing for Salon earlier this year, Bill Moyers declared, “Corporate greed is poisoning America—literally.” The Huffington Post has pages and pages dedicated to it, and the whole Occupy Wall Street movement was founded upon it. And of course, who could forget, “In this world…where white folks’ greed runs a world in need.”
Financially speaking, my wife Michelle and I are disciples of the late Larry Burkett. Michelle worked full time for Larry’s ministry Christian Financial Concepts (now Crown Financial Ministries) from 1997 until 2002. After the birth of our first child, she worked part time from home and continues in that capacity today. My life was changed dramatically very early in our marriage when I went through Larry’s How to Manage Your Money (HTMYM) Bible study (which is now over 20 years old).
In the study, Larry spends a lot of time talking about debt. Of course, in our culture today, when it comes to financial matters, debt remains topic number one. One of the early chapters in HTMYM is entitled “The Perils of Money.” In this chapter, along with later ones such as “Motives for Accumulating Wealth,” and “How Much is Enough?” Larry also spends a lot of time dealing with the issue of greed.
When it comes to greed, Larry makes a great point that often escapes most people, especially those who think that only the rich or large corporations are capable of greed: an attitude of greed can creep in whether one is blessed with a great deal in the way of material possessions or very little. Case in point is the raid on the Walmarts in Springhill and Mansfield Louisiana by EBT (food stamp) card carriers.
As you’ve no-doubt heard by now, on Saturday, October 12, due to a glitch that occurred during a routine back-up test, the EBT system went down in several states. According to Xerox, a vendor for the EBT system, as a result of the glitch, EBT card limits were erased. Most stores put a hold on EBT purchases, or at least called to verify balances, but not the Walmarts in Springhill and Mansfield.
Walmart executives told these stores to allow purchases to continue. As word spread of Walmart’s decision, the stores were flooded with those ready to take advantage. What resulted was a shopping frenzy that was reportedly worse than any Black Friday spree ever witnessed. Shoppers packed buggies to the rim, with some filling as many as eight to ten carts. Meat coolers were emptied and the store shelves were left bare (no small feat for anyone who’s familiar with today’s Walmart).
One observer, who took cell phone video of the shopping carnage, concluded that it was simply human nature that led the shoppers to fill their carts to overflowing. Another couple called it “plain theft, that's stealing that's all I got to say about it.” They’re both right.
The Walmart EBT raid is simply another example of the mentality and behavior that results from our entitlement culture. Left to ourselves, and enabled by Big Government that is ready and willing to buy votes, “plain theft” is the natural human reaction when one has been conditioned by out-of-control Big Government handouts. We see this behavior time and again (more often than a media replete with liberals would like to report).
As I noted last year, for several months after winning a $1 million state lottery jackpot, 25-year-old Michigan resident, Amanda Clayton, collected thousands of dollars in state assistance. Clayton reportedly received approximately $5,500 in food stamps and public medical benefits. She was exposed by a Detroit news station, WDIV-TV4, in March of 2012 and was arrested for welfare fraud.
When confronted by the Detroit station and asked if she felt that she had a right to the money, Clayton replied, “I mean I kinda do.” She further added, “I feel that it’s okay because I mean, I have no income and I have bills to pay. I have two houses.” Clayton then declared that she intended to continue to use her benefits until she was cut off.
In June of 2010 Leroy Hick won $2 million in a Michigan state lottery TV show. In May of 2011, the Detroit News noted that, according to Hick’s attorney, Michigan’s state “Department of Human Services determined he was still eligible for food stamps.”
Fick declared, “If you’re going to try to make me feel bad, you’re not going to do it.” His attorney added, “I am not going to sit and debate the ethics of this…from his standpoint, he did what he was supposed to do — he informed the state, and the state said he could keep using the card. The problem is with the state.”
Do you think the Walmart raiders felt as if they had won the lottery? Do you think they “feel bad” because of their behavior? I doubt it. Such behavior is often what results when human beings are perpetually handed things that they don’t have to work for. Of course, not everyone receiving welfare is guilty of greed, but make no mistake about it, with one-out-of-six Americans receiving food stamps, we are almost certainly dealing with a rampant culture of greed.
Trevor Thomas resides in Gainesville, GA with his wife and four small children. He has a bachelor’s degree in physics and two graduate degrees in mathematics education. He has taught high school mathematics in public and private schools for the last 17 years and has written opinion columns for the last nine years. www.trevorgrantthomas.com
The CJS Forum seeks to promote an open exchange of ideas about the relationship between faith, culture, law and public policy. While all the articles are original and written especially for the CJS Forum, they do not necessarily reflect the views of the Center for a Just Society.