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How Techies Rescued Food Stamps (wired.com) 292

New submitter rgh02 writes: There is an endless variety of apps designed to manage life for the upper middle class, but most low-income Americans don't benefit from the same time-saving hacks. Thanks to new trends in civic technology, that's beginning to change. The 43 million Americans depending on food stamps are seeing the introduction of apps like Propel's Fresh EBT, which allows users to check balances, track deals, and organize budgets accordingly. And Propel is only one of several companies looking to disrupt outdated social programs, Tonya Riley reports at Backchannel. But the Trump administration, with its hiring freezes and budget cuts, poses threats to these advancements. Riley dives deep into the progress that's been made and how companies are navigating these obstacles.

How Techies Rescued Food Stamps

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  • by Marxist Hacker 42 ( 638312 ) * <seebert42@gmail.com> on Monday September 11, 2017 @12:48PM (#55174885) Homepage Journal

    Is to show how this not just reduces time for the EBT customers, but can reduce headcount in government call centers by reducing the need for customer service. I don't understand why techies have never figured out that government and business have similar goals.

    • eh... I don't know where I stand on the budget cuts, but this just sounds like businesses whining that they won't get easy government money to write apps.
    • by Tailhook ( 98486 )

      reduces time for the EBT customers

      Time? What time? It appears as a balance on a card you swipe at checkout. There is no "time" involved; it's faster than handling cash. The balance refills with the sort of military precision I wish I could take for granted with my paychecks. No one drawing these bennies are mystified by the schedule.

      This Propel thing looks like a marketing platform; pushing ads for "deals." Great. More power to them. But if it vanished tomorrow it wouldn't matter at all. And nothing is being "rescued;" Propel or

    • by XxtraLarGe ( 551297 ) on Monday September 11, 2017 @01:03PM (#55175031) Journal

      I don't understand why techies have never figured out that government and business have similar goals.

      They have never figured it out because your premise is wrong. Government and business do not have similar goals. Just because Trump wants to cut some sectors of the government doesn't mean that most bureaucrats do. There are many in the government whose goal is to expand the number of people using their services, so they can justify increases in their budgets & staff. As Oscar Wilde put it, "The bureaucracy is expanding to meet the needs of the expanding bureaucracy."

    • The goals are similar, but governments typically don't have to care if they aren't meeting them. Unless a business has a monopoly, if the service is crap you can just go elsewhere. A government program has to be exceptionally crap before anything will be done about it, and good luck getting rid of it, even if you can demonstrate that it's harmful or counter productive. At best you can probably take the money and move it towards some other program aimed at achieving the same goals.

      It's not that government
    • by judoguy ( 534886 )

      I don't understand why techies have never figured out that government and business have similar goals.

      Government and big business have similar goals in a Fascist State.

      Government and true free market business, not so much.

    • a big part of our government, of any modern government, is keeping people employed in the face of increasing productivity and automation. Our Military isn't that big to defend us. Hell, we had generals begging to get _fewer_ tanks because they didn't know what to do with the ones they had. In large parts of the country the government is the #1 employer and Wal-Mart's #2. We're running out of work that can be done by non-geniuses.
  • My major plan is to build our social insurances on top of a universal social security. This improves the financial position of all households, most-importantly the lowest-income households. When you do the computation for necessary aid, you're starting from a higher annual income, so the amount of necessary aid is smaller.

    Can these apps provide deal tracking and budgeting from cash for lower-income households without EBT services?

    • by zifn4b ( 1040588 )

      My major plan is to build our social insurances on top of a universal social security. This improves the financial position of all households, most-importantly the lowest-income households. When you do the computation for necessary aid, you're starting from a higher annual income, so the amount of necessary aid is smaller.

      Can these apps provide deal tracking and budgeting from cash for lower-income households without EBT services?

      Great idea except where do you get sustainable funding for it?

      • I've got an orchard full of money trees, just downstate of a bridge I bought last year.
      • Great idea except where do you get sustainable funding for it?

        We already have plenty of welfare spending going on, only the recipients are defense contractors. Let's spend it on humans instead of corporations.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by schwit1 ( 797399 )
          You're still not even close to the funds needed. And when you cut off the money going to defense contractors what is the military supposed to use to defend the country, spears? What happens to all of the former workers from the defense contractors? They can't all become community organizers.
        • by judoguy ( 534886 )

          We already have plenty of welfare spending going on, only the recipients are defense contractors. Let's spend it on humans instead of corporations.

          I agree that we're pissing away too much money on stupid stuff, but most of the money given to defense contractors actually goes to people working in that industry. It's really a workfare program for the highest tech possible jobs.

          So, if you're into handing money out to people, and I'm not, the defense industry is probably the best from a tech development standpoint.

      • by judoguy ( 534886 )

        Great idea except where do you get sustainable funding for it?

        Volume!

      • Oh, that's not hard. It's about a trillion dollars cheaper than the current system to get the foundational benefit out; once you add back OASDI and such, it's still a hell of a lot cheaper.

        Take the 2016 model [google.com], for example. Taxes taken by FICA (OASDI) total $810.20 billion; Federal individual income taxes are $1,546.10 billion; and business income taxes are $299.60 billion. Out of that $2,655.90 billion of total income-based taxes, we spend $1,346.20 at the Federal level on retirement, disability, food

      • Bitcoin? I keep hearing how it's going to rise another 50% every month forever...
  • There is an endless variety of apps designed to manage life for the upper middle class, but most low-income Americans don't benefit from the same time-saving hacks

    Let me get this straight, you need EBT because you can't afford food but you can afford a smart phone? Anyone else see the problem with this?

  • rgh02 [slashdot.org] spammer for wired, who also upvotes stories from the other wired spammer mirandakatz [slashdot.org].
  • The food stamp program says that poor people are too stupid to budget for themselves, while at the same time creating massive bureaucratic overhead and supporting fraud. How about we simply get rid of it and replace it with simple cash benefits, like most other civilized nations do?

    • The tit suckers aren't responsible enough for cash. That's how you get malnourished poor kids and 22 inch rims on the parents junker.

      They had to convert to cards to stop the routine sale of food stamps. Which just changed it to sale of food. But at least the kids get a chance to grab a bite before the food is sold to a neighbor with a job.

      • Thanks for so clearly expressing the attitude progressives have towards the poor, while simultaneously arguing that economic outcomes are just a matter of class and luck. It's jerks like you that made me leave the Democratic party.

        • Who are you calling a 'progressive'? (Progressive: reactionary wanting to return to the economics and politics of the 1930s)

          Thems fightin words.

          • Who are you calling a 'progressive'? (Progressive: reactionary wanting to return to the economics and politics of the 1930s)

            I didn't explicitly call you a "progressive". You may well be some other variety of elitist and totalitarian.

            • Not wanting to give people who clearly don't know how to handle cash, cash, makes me 'elitist and totalitarian'? Fuck you.

              If 'they' want to be treated like adults, they should get off the tit.

  • When then use the word "disrupt." The use of the world indicates the individual does not know what they are talking about and are a condescending ass-hole.

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