A report from Fox News in the USA suggests that there have been some problems with the electronic cards used to credit welfare recipients with food purchases. The report probably needs to be taken with a pinch of salt – were there really retail riots in 17 states? – but as it happens to square with my previous prejudices (which of course is what Fox News is all about) I’m happy to report it here. “At Louisiana stores in Springhill and Mansfield” – should that be Springfield, Mrs Simpson? – “cards registered no spending limits, prompting recipients to go on buying binges.” I wrote in this blog last June: “Some parts of the problem, certainly, seem to be due to lax administration. But part of the reason for that laxity is the attempt to introduce financial systems that don’t and can’t take advantage of the security that regular banking and accounting offer.”
I understand that the City of Birmingham – that’s the one in Britain, rather than Alabama – has also arrived at an agreement with Asda, a subsidary of Walmart, to issue pre-paid cards to people looking for discretionary help in an emergency (see this report). Another fine mess, coming to a store near you.