Occasionally, something will happen that shows a latent tendency of dishonesty in people regardless of class or station. Once the lights go off or security is suspended, there is an explosion of thefts or some riot. I remember one Christmas seeing what looked like lawyers or businessmen trying to use umbrellas to unhook fur decorations on the Christmas tree in the Daley Plaza that were part of a Canadian holiday display. One was actually on the other one’s shoulders. I am not sure why I am always surprised. However, this weekend, the food stamp computer system in Louisiana experienced a glitch where it would not show the limit on cards. Most stores stopped purchases with the EBT cards. However, Walmart stores in Springhill and Mansfield, Louisiana decided to continue to make sales. The word quickly spread and the stores were mobbed with shoppers who took virtually every item off the shelves. Then the EBT cards came back online with the limits on the cards . . .
Suddenly, hundreds of people fled the store after it was announced that the card were showing the limits again. Dozens of over-stuffed carts were left in lines and all of the shelves were stripped clean. Given the low level of food support on such cards, it raises a moral dilemma in the interpretation of laws on theft. Should such laws include a Jean Val Jean exception in the prosecution of people overcharging food stamp cards? Are such act justified on a relative scale given poverty issues? After posting this blog early this morning, many have insisted that it is and even objected to taking note of the story. Yet it raises an interesting question of the relativity of crime. ABC News reported the story as a “shopping spree” as opposed to theft.
Police were called before the system came back on line because people were fighting to get their hands on any item.
One woman was detained because she rang up a bill of $700.00 and only had .49 on her card when the system came back. However, she was released when Walmart decided not to prosecute. Walmart said it did not want to prosecute anyone.
What is left is another breakdown of basic notions of honesty and responsibility. It is particularly disturbing to hear of children being enlisted to strip the shelves and then fleeing with their parents when the system came back online. I do feel there is the mitigating circumstance due to the fact that these are poor individuals and the level of support is low. I am less troubled by such scenes as I am more affluent forms of theft like banking fraud and government perjury that goes unpunished. However, this still constitutes a form of theft.
What is interesting about the single woman being detained is that she committed theft. Those in line had not committed any crime if they abandoned their carts before using their cards. She was not prosecuted. Many others succeeded in the effort to circumvent limits.
There is also the question of liability. Xerox is being blamed for the glitch in 14 states. Yet, Walmart made the decision to honor cards without limits. That would seem a superseding intervening act.
We have had a number of people say that such actions are justified due to the poverty of the individuals. What do you think?
75 thoughts on “Walmart Store Picked Clean After Computer Malfunctions In Louisiana”
This was probably beta testing for government sponsored rioting. They will use those dependent on government as hostages whenever republicans try to reform anything or when the police state needs further tweaking.
The fascists in the White House and the Democratic Party will likely provoke riots when they do not get their way. This is a good way for them to do it. They can turn it on and off like a spicket. It further provides cover for the growth of Obama’s Gestapo (the DHS, FEMA, TSA, etc) and the militarization of our local police.
Walmart is a willing partner in this fascism.
What will probably happen is xerox will get stuck with the bill…. Especially for non food purchases…. Walmart should really be stuck…. But the people who used their cards will probably see benefits reduced until they are paid in full….
David, I bet you are one heck if a scam artist…..
How disappointing to see these types of arguments being made on a law blog: everyone else is doing it, so that makes it okay.
That’s a commonly tested flaw on the LSAT (e.g. – test #68, section 3, question #5). Just because corporate leaders may engage in illegal behavior doesn’t give everyone else a license to do it. If someone else gets away with murder, that doesn’t make it okay for you to commit rape. Dissatisfaction over selective enforcement of the laws is no excuse to break the law.
This wasn’t taking a loaf of bread to feed a starving child. This was looting whatever they could grab.
Any altruistic motives for committing a crime can be grounds for avoiding punitive damages in a civil action, Shopko Stores v. Kujak, 147 Wis.2d 589 at 601-02 (Wis. 1988), or qualify them for criminal pretrial diversion, State v. Mickens, 565 A.2d 720 (1989), but it doesn’t absolve them of all responsibility for their misconduct.
Many who are rushing to defend these shoplifters on the grounds that “they had good reasons for doing it” are among those who would turn around & criticize the Bush administration for denying basic legal & human rights to enemy combatants. Back then it was argued that the rule of law should be applied to everyone equally or we’d be no better than the lawless terrorists we were fighting (i.e. – the use of torture, extraordinary rendition, indefinite detention, etc.).
But that’s exactly what’s happening here: because our taxes are too high or executives have gotten away with criminal greed, that somehow makes it okay for common people to steal in retaliation. They’re lawless, so we can be lawless.
So now we’re going to let the lowest common denominators set the standards for how we live our lives? We’re going to become more like the corporate leaders we despise? Not only is this intellectually dishonest, but the misplaced sympathy for these shoplifters is a disturbing reminder that the rule of law & principles we ostensibly hold in such high regard are quickly dealt away for convenience & a loose grasp of the facts.
How many Americans work for the US government? How many Americans work for US government contractors?
@Bron: “the problem is a government which thinks it can create jobs. It cannot, the only job creaters are the private sector.”
This nugget of deductive wisdom should be immediately passed along to all of the salaried members of our armed forces.
Obviously, they should receive what passes for strict financial justice these days: They should be required to promise to disburse a tiny fraction of their next year’s EBIDTA (earnings before interest, deductions, and taxes) — without an admission of responsibility of course, since that is the current standard.
But then again, we’re always told that such complex financial shenanigans are so difficult to litigate that it would hardly be worth the effort for regulators to pursue them in court. In lieu of that, a committee should be formed to request permission from Congress to empanel a bipartisan group to study whether revised reporting regulations might be appropriate for shopping cart-EBT card-related transactions, to take effect in 2016, to allow for a thorough review and comment period by consumer representatives.
the problem is a government which thinks it can create jobs. It cannot, the only job creaters are the private sector. As soon as government realizes this, although they have no vested interest in removing people from welfare roles, the sooner our economy will improve. And our society.
Our government is the potent, the omnipresent teacher. For good or for ill, it teaches the whole people by its example. Crime is contagious. If the government becomes a lawbreaker, it breeds contempt for law; it invites every man to become a law unto himself; it invites anarchy. ~ Louis Brandeis, Olmstead v US
I agree, Elaine…. Banksters are powerful force and they will be difficult to corral, since they have purchased the media and most politicians. Sen. Dick Durbin put it so well in 2009, “”the banks, hard to believe in a time when we’re facing a banking crisis that many of the banks created, are still the most powerful lobby on Capitol Hill. And they frankly own the place.” http://www.progressillinois.com/2009/4/29/durbin-banks-own-the-place..
Low Wages Cost Taxpayers A Quarter-Trillion Dollars Every Year
By Alan Pyke on October 15, 2013
From 2007 to 2011, the biggest public benefits programs spent $243 billion each year on working families who live in poverty or on the brink of it because their jobs pay so poorly, according to a study published Tuesday by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley. The research focuses on fast food workers as exemplifying the plight of low-wage workers and the costs that low wages pass along to taxpayers.
The study focused on the largest direct assistance programs to establish the cost of the “last line of defense between America’s growing low-income workforce and the want of basic necessities.” The combined cost of public health care programs, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, or food stamps), the Earned Income Tax Credit that targets low-income workers, and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF, formerly known as welfare) for working families averaged $243 billion from 2007 to 2011.
Fast food workers are particularly likely to rely on these programs. More than half of all front-line fast-food workers who work at least 30 hours per week are enrolled, compared to 25 percent of the overall workforce. Fast food workers and their families receive $7 billion per year in public assistance, $3.9 billion of it in the form of health care programs like Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). The fast food workers included in the study were nearly five times less likely to receive health insurance through their work than is typical across the entire economy, at 13 percent compared to 59 percent.
Similar research focused on Walmart’s business model found that a single 300-employee Walmart Supercenter incurs about a million dollars per year in public benefit costs.
If anything, the study understates the scope of the public cost of low wages. The researchers did not attempt to factor in programs that don’t directly supplement a family’s income, so job training, educational programs, and other indirect forms of public assistance are not included. Furthermore, some cash transfer programs were not included in the analysis due to spotty data.
Privatizing public schools is right up their with privatizing prisons as far as I’m concerned.
Sorry for the bout of dissonance Gene H. These are confusing times! But falling from a ladder and landing on Christmas is better than the alternative landing spots that banksters would provide you!.
Same with trying to privatize water systems, carbon controls, and the worst of the worst; private prisons….. We banksters see huge profits in using the fee ’em and fleece ’em business plan..
Elaine. I’m gonna have to up my meds considerably if you keep posting all this sh*t. I had never seen that Maria B in action before. I sorta wish I still never had seen her in action.
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