There is no elaborate technology that keeps liquor stores honest. Retailers are required to check identification to make sure that a person is old enough to purchase alcohol. A license can be swiped at a computer terminal to determine its veracity, but most retailers don't take this extra step. We know that young people do make illegal purchases and some retailers look the other way. However, the system works with little or no high tech wizardry. Why? Because the state occasionally sends out underage kids with fake ID's to try and purchase liquor. If an establishment gets caught, they face stiff fines and if they habitually offend, they'll lose their license and business.
Why can't we bring this simple and effective method to the state's EBT system? The state's top welfare official has admitted that the technology does not exist to prohibit welfare recipients from using their EBT cards to purchase liquor or anything else that taxpayer dollars should not be wasted on. If an EBT card is used in a supermarket, the card can't tell the difference between a loaf of rye bread and a fifth of rye whiskey, but the clerk can. So why not develop a list of items that cannot be purchased with an EBT card? Then, if a retailer is caught making a sale, they'd be subject to the same penalties as a liquor store that sells to minors. The state could simply use the same kids who do the stings at liquor stores. Give them an EBT card and send them out to purchase liquor. If the store sells, it's a two for one offense.
There is one problem with this proposal. Governor Deval Patrick refuses to stop welfare recipients from withdrawing cash from an ATM with their EBT card. There's also a low tech solution to this problem. Wait two more years and elect a governor who will.