Long time reader, Ken in El Paso, Texas emailed me this afternoon:

One of my sons, a police sergeant in Houston working the Astrodome, informs me that a lot of people being handed the $2000.00 debit cards are not using them for clothing, food or other essentials. They’re using them for cam-corders, DVD players, and booze. Nice, huh?

Well, according to FEMA, via MSNBC, it’s all on the up and up…or “supposed to” be:

Only for neediest

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is administering the program. FEMA officials said the program is aimed at those most in need, so not all families that fled their homes will be eligible.

“For instance you may have some people who have insurance and insurance is meeting their living expenses while they have been displaced,” said Ed Conley, a FEMA spokesman in Houston. “You have some people who may be looking at an option such as a cruise ship where all of their needs are going to be met. It is going to vary by family.”

The cards are to be used to help victims purchase food, transportation and other essentials.

It’s unclear how much the debit card program will cost the government, but it could run into the hundreds of millions of dollars since hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced.

Alaska Gov. Frank Murkowski, a Republican, said he had concerns about the potential for abuse. “That’s a lot of money. The question is how do you separate the needy from those who just want a $2,000 handout,” he said.

How do you separate the needy from those who just want a $2,000 handout? For starters, governor… when you’re handing out the next batch of cards, if you see a guy watching movies he made with his new camcorder on his new DVD player while polishing off a bottle of Jack, don’t give him another friggin’ debit card.

Oh yes, later, Ken added this:

At one point in the past few days, Houston cops had to sort of “lock down” the Astrodome because a number of Houston residents were lining up to claim debit cards. Asserting that they’d lost all their ID’s in New Orleans when they really lived in the immediate area. Why is the media not reporting this stuff? Stupid question.

It’s funny what the media will report, however. I did read something about a lockdown, but the debit cards weren’t mentioned… the report made it sound like the people inside the ‘dome were getting too unruly or whatever, never mentioning the debit cards.


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