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The reward should be remaining eligible for welfare.
The penalty should be losing the privilege of eligibility or repaying what was taken.
Over the weekend, the nation's welfare system sustained a computer glitch, resulting in some holders of Electronic Benefits Transfer cards — the electronic version of food stamps — being locked out of the system and others finding they had unlimited sums.
This caused all kinds of reactions — panic among those who couldn't get food; riots in stores that honor the cards when some cardholders took advantage of the glitch.
One woman who had 49 cents on her card ended up spending $700. She wasn't alone, and for the people who took advantage, they should become ineligible for the cards. Or at the very least, the amount they overspent should be deducted from future cards.
Whether people are on welfare or not, this is a society in which you're held accountable. It shouldn't matter whether you're on food stamps (electronic benefits transfer cards) or not. If dishonesty is allowed, then it will increase. If there's no penalty now, then the dishonesty will be greater next time — and there will be a next time because computers aren't infallible.
This nation provides for the poor. It also frowns on taking what doesn't belong to one or misusing the system.
For those who didn't abuse the system, they should and will remain eligible. But all will know that abuses won't be tolerated.