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America Fumes After Xerox "Routine Backup Test" Leave 17 States Without Foodstamps

Tyler Durden's picture


Yesterday millions of "shoppers" living on the government dole left their shopping carts in droves in checkout counters, exited countless foodstamp-accepting stores, and made Wal-Marts and other general merchandise stores into veritable ghost towns, after a power outage at Xerox Corp, made EBT usage in 17 states for most of Saturday impossible, and left tens of millions of poverty-level Americans unable to engage in one of their favorite pastimes: shop with other people's money. In short: the Welfare States of America were probably closer to a state of outright revolution than at any time before in history. And had the EBT stoppage continues into today and tomorrow, things would have certainly spilled out from the shopping aisle to main streets where the people's anger may have culminated in an violent expression of disgust at a state which gives with one hand and a xerox company that takes with the other.

AP Reports:

People in Ohio, Michigan and 15 other states found themselves temporarily unable to use their food stamp debit-style cards on Saturday, after a routine test of backup systems by vendor Xerox Corp. resulted in a system failure. Xerox announced late in the evening that access has been restored for users in the 17 states affected by the outage, hours after the first problems were reported.


"Restarting the EBT system required time to ensure service was back at full functionality," spokeswoman Jennifer Wasmer said in an email. An emergency voucher process was available in some of the areas while the problems were occurring, she said.


U.S. Department of Agriculture spokeswoman Courtney Rowe underscored that the outage was not related to the government shutdown.

Ok, so the EBT failure not related to a government shutdown. It was, however, related to a simple "glitch" in a "Just-In-Time" world of peak complexity, which quickly cascaded through the logistical supply chain, and crippled the "purchasing" power of tens of millions of Americans, which potentially could have resulted in lethal consequences.

This was precisely the topic of our recent post "From Cascading Complexity To Systemic Collapse: A Walk Thru "Society's Equivalent Of A Heart Attack" which many read but few seem to have grasped. Recall from the article: "The extent of our contemporary complex global system dependencies, and our habituation to a long period of broadly stable economic and complexity growth means a systemic collapse would present profound and existential challenges." Such as resulting from a power outage at... Xerox Corp? If there is any better example of a system crossing the chaotic threshold due to a black swan event, we have yet to find it.

And while this time it took just 12 hours to return the system to order, what would have happened if the failure states had propagated, and led to subsequent systemic failures on their own, halting down peripheral social choke points, and resulting in a freeze of the "backup and restore" capacity of society. In short: this time, we - and especially those 46 million Americans on foodstamps - were lucky. Next time, luck may be in short supply.

More from AP:

Earlier Saturday shoppers left carts of groceries behind at a packed Market Basket grocery store in Biddeford, Maine, because they couldn't get their benefits, said shopper Barbara Colman, of Saco, Maine. The manager put up a sign saying the EBT system was not in use. Colman, who receives the benefits, called an 800 telephone line for the program and it said the system was down due to maintenance, she said.


"That's a problem. There are a lot of families who are not going to be able to feed children because the system is being maintenanced," Colman said. She planned to reach out to local officials. "You don't want children going hungry tonight because of stupidity," she said.


Colman said the store manager promised her that he would honor the day's store flyer discounts next week.


Wasmer said the states affected by the temporary outage also included Alabama, California, Georgia, Iowa, Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Mississippi, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas and Virginia.


Ohio's cash and food assistance card payment systems went down at 11 a.m., said Benjamin Johnson, a spokesman for the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. Johnson said Xerox asked retailers to revert to a manual system, meaning customers could spend up to $50 until the system was restored.


Illinois residents began reporting problems with their cards — known as LINK in that state — on Saturday morning, said Januari Smith, spokeswoman for the Illinois Department of Human Services.


Smith said that typically when the cards aren't working retailers can call a backup phone number to find out how much money customers have available in their account. But that information also was unavailable because of the outage, so customers weren't able to use their cards.


"It really is a bad situation but they are working to get it fixed as soon as possible," Smith said.


In Clarksdale, Miss. — one of the poorest parts of one of the poorest states in the nation — cashier Eliza Shook said dozens of customers at Corner Grocery had to put back groceries when the cards failed Saturday because they couldn't afford to pay for the food. After several hours, she put a sign on the front door to tell people about the problem.


"It's been terrible," Shook said in a phone interview. "It's just been some angry folks. That's what a lot of folks depend on."


Mississippi Department of Human Services director Rickey Berry confirmed that Xerox, the state's EBT vendor, had computer problems.


"I know there are a lot of mad people," Berry said.


Sheree Powell, a spokeswoman for the Oklahoma Department of Human Services, started receiving calls around 11:30 a.m. about problems with the state's card systems. More than 600,000 Oklahomans receive SNAP benefits, and money is dispersed to the cards on the first, fifth and 10th days of every month, so the disruption came at what is typically a high-use time for the cards.


Oklahoma also runs a separate debit card system for other state benefits like unemployment payments. Those cards can be used at ATMs to withdraw cash. Powell said Xerox administers both the EBT and debit card systems, and they both were down initially.


Powell said that some grocery store cashiers had been speculating that the federal government's shutdown caused the problem, but state officials have been assured that that is not the case.


Powell said Oklahoma's Xerox representative told them that the problems stemmed from a power failure at a data center.


"It just takes a while to reboot these systems," she said.

A reboot which, one prays, does not lead to the dreaded BSOD which however can't be fixed on a wink and a prayer.

In the meantime, we hope that it is not lost on people that the weakest glitch in perhaps the most important daily government welfare system of all, happens to be a power fuse at the all too private Xerox Corp. Because while we knew that the toner maker determines the "wealth effect" of the uber wealthy, if only metaphorically, little did we know that nearly 50 million Americans' daily bread also depends on toner.

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Sun, 10/13/2013 - 10:14 | 4049731 Byte Me
Byte Me's picture


Copy that.

Sun, 10/13/2013 - 10:27 | 4049759 Pladizow
Pladizow's picture

If the EBT system would have stayed down it would have been one of the best things that could happen to America, and in several ways!

How to make a slave:

1. Control food supply

2. Control information

3. Threaten with violence

What American doesnt fit into all three catagories?

Sun, 10/13/2013 - 10:28 | 4049769 MagicHandPuppet
MagicHandPuppet's picture

"Ness time y'all mess wif mah EBT, shis gonna get real up in heya!"

Sun, 10/13/2013 - 10:33 | 4049777 y3maxx
y3maxx's picture

"Ness time y'all mess wif mah EBT, shis gonna get real up in heya!"

Love Your Accent MHP. What part of Sweden You from, North or South?

Sun, 10/13/2013 - 10:38 | 4049788 TeamDepends
TeamDepends's picture

"If a man does not work, let him also not eat". It is from 2 Thes 3:10 and was said by Paul, and later paraphrased by John Smith.

Sun, 10/13/2013 - 10:46 | 4049810 SafelyGraze
SafelyGraze's picture

thanks a lot, Associated Press

now the bad guys know where the us is vulnerable: the xerex nightly backups

one can only hope that dhs has taken over management of the critical xerox asset

and that doj will investigate AP

eat your vegetables!

Sun, 10/13/2013 - 10:46 | 4049817 Stackers
Stackers's picture

Classic - "With Xerox You're Ready for Real Business"


Sun, 10/13/2013 - 11:02 | 4049860 Shocker
Shocker's picture

Well when you have that many on Foodstamps.

Sad Times



Sun, 10/13/2013 - 11:12 | 4049883 max2205
max2205's picture

Xerox CEO is an african American on is a darling of the Barry admin

Expect no retaliation

Sun, 10/13/2013 - 11:45 | 4049987 hedgeless_horseman
hedgeless_horseman's picture



"That's a problem. There are a lot of families who are
not going to be able to feed children because the system is being
maintenanced," Colman said. She planned to reach out to local officials.
"You don't want children going hungry tonight because of stupidity,"
she said.

No problem feeding children at our place, yesterday.  Our family cow is still working fine.

Sun, 10/13/2013 - 11:54 | 4050011 Handful of Dust
Handful of Dust's picture

Must be someoine they can sue over this...I mean, look how many people almost starved...

OOOOHHHH, the pain....the suffering...nightmares for months....

Sun, 10/13/2013 - 11:57 | 4050030 hedgeless_horseman
hedgeless_horseman's picture



Of course, we are not stupid.  If the family-cow system is being maintenanced (we dry her up for 6-8 weeks before each calf is born), then we have back-up systems in place.  You don't want children going hungry tonight because of stupidity.

Sun, 10/13/2013 - 12:30 | 4050117 WillyGroper
WillyGroper's picture

Holy Cow!

I'm envious! That cheese is beautiful. You work like a rented mule but your reward is fit for royalty.

Sun, 10/13/2013 - 21:48 | 4051663 mjcOH1
mjcOH1's picture

"No problem feeding children at our place, yesterday.  Our family cow is still working fine."

Unless it shits Ho-Hos you ain't talkin EBT food yo.

Sun, 10/13/2013 - 12:42 | 4050140 Abi Normal
Abi Normal's picture

Have to say Hedgeless, I am impressed and a weee bit envious.  Your food preps, only common sense, is in fine shape.  Need some security, where you are?  I would be happy to throw my lot in with ya, I have prepped for a long time, for many outcomes.

Sun, 10/13/2013 - 12:48 | 4050157 Joe A
Joe A's picture

How long do you let your cheeses ripen?

Sun, 10/13/2013 - 13:26 | 4050297 johnconnor
johnconnor's picture

you would make one of the best partners for an upcoming zombie apocalypse...

Sun, 10/13/2013 - 22:04 | 4051696 Flagit
Flagit's picture

mr. horsman

would it be too much to ask for you to post your daily/weekly scheduel?

give us an idea of how you spend your time.

im guessing you spend shitloads of time buried in your iphone, whilst sitting in gridlock traffic.

Sun, 10/13/2013 - 12:07 | 4050052 ConfederateH
ConfederateH's picture

"Xerox CEO is an african American"

That statement explains so much.   Xerox must have made massive numbers of inroads into federal government contracting through its copier and printing businesses... how to capitalize on that?  locate its "vibrant" talent and milk those government IT service contracts.

Sun, 10/13/2013 - 12:15 | 4050077 ThePhysicist
ThePhysicist's picture

They'll find some cracka to blame. Bush?

Sun, 10/13/2013 - 12:21 | 4050095 Kirk2NCC1701
Kirk2NCC1701's picture

Xerox is an "At-will employer".

Expect someone to get fired as a "surrogate sacrifice" to the Wall St gods. It's how things work in 'meritorious' corporate America: Individuals rise on combination of own and others' efforts, and stay up there by sacrificing others (as Surrogates) for one own sins.

Before we get too disgusted with this practice, let's remember that this concept (of a Surrogate being unjustly sacrificed for alleged Appeasement) lies in the Old Testament itself. IOW, it is brought to us by the same people who gave us MMT, FRB, fiat money, the Fed, and who rule Money, Media and halls of Power & influence.

So... Who are YOU gonna trust? These SAME people? "Who you gonna call?"

I get a chuckle every time the sheeple affirm their commitment to their Stockholm Syndrome, by praising The System.

Sun, 10/13/2013 - 12:24 | 4050104 rubiconsolutions
rubiconsolutions's picture

Maybe instead of Xerox they should power EBT with Xbox. At least then it would take peoples mind off the fact they need food.

Sun, 10/13/2013 - 12:51 | 4050159 Abi Normal
Abi Normal's picture

Kirk, you must mean they are HQ'd in a Right to Work state?  If so they have the right to hire and fire at will, no questions asked.  In most instances, it is pref to union states, no?  Does, this particular incident, mean the rule will hold true?  Only time will tell buddy.  It is true, this incident, may have no bearing on right to work or not, I do get that.  Shit happens in the tech world, but to have an outage like that, will have a consequence, from the Alynski, Cloward & Piven folks.  


This is just a test run, same for Boston, they are doing some dry runs, and as things play out, this looks to be a huge shit sandwhich for everyone, I don't care how prepared one is, either.

Gonna be hell on earth, find good friends, build a community, and survive the best one can.  As for fleeing the country, to where, will you stand out like a sore thumb in a foriegn land?  

There will be no 'safe place', if the USSA folds.  God speed to you all, prepare accordingly.

Mon, 10/14/2013 - 00:29 | 4051925 Dapper Dan
Dapper Dan's picture


Good post,  Abi

I might add, is it not coincident that TPTB have angered and provoked the rest of the world and in so doing made it impossible for Americans to seek sanctuary outside of the USA.


Mon, 10/14/2013 - 02:02 | 4052004 merizobeach
merizobeach's picture

"made it impossible for Americans to seek sanctuary outside of the USA."

HAHAHA!!  Ok, sucker, stay right where you are and keep doing exactly what you're already doing.  Maybe you're right: maybe there aren't any opportunities for you outside of America!  Ha!  That's so pathetic!

How about this: you and your small mind stay within the fascist borders of your country and don't ever leave.  We expats will (somehow impossibly!) continue to live in a different paradigm (where life is much better, I might add), and we don't need any more USuckAss-ians seeping out of that shithole.

Mon, 10/14/2013 - 02:12 | 4052011 Harry Dong
Harry Dong's picture

I don't see what your so upset about. You'd rather live in the Phillipines (or where ever)...good for you! But then to wish to shut the door on anyone else who decides to get when the getting's good...that's just not cool. 

Maybe you're new neighbors are actually hoping you'd go back home. You don't seem to have the right latitude.

Tue, 10/15/2013 - 00:59 | 4055046 merizobeach
merizobeach's picture

Taiwan here.  I've been to the Philippines a few times, but I really can't stand the rampant deliberate ignorance of Catholic societies.  There's a reason the PI will never be a modern country, but I digress.

I'm not shutting the door on you, man.  If you are an enterprising, independent thinker, then you will make your way around the world as you are free to do.  When I first came to Asia, most of the expats I met were backpackers and other ambitious open-minded travelers.  Such people make themselves welcome because they have value to contribute.

As the western economies have tanked over the past decade, though, there have been successive influxes of westerners from Canada, Australia, South Africa, England, and finally the US; the majority of these people have not been travelers or explorers, but instead have been wash-outs, burn-outs, and other sheeple who come here on one-year contracts, pursuing the money and without interest to learn local culture and language or assimilate in any way.  THOSE people are the useless motherfuckers that pollute this place.  As the US economy continues to decline, more of those shitbags show up around here.  I've got no time for them; they may as well be mor(m)on fucking missionaries--single finger salute in passing is all I'll spare if at all.

So that you needn't make presumptions about my 'new' neighbors, allow me to tell you that I've assimilated quite successfully.  The Taiwanese people impress me as quite unique in that they are generally not arrogant; I cannot think of another society about which I can say that.

If you, yourself, are awake and cool, how can you stand living in the USuckAss, under the oppressive thumbs of Obama, the NSA, the cops, and the banks?

I can stand to visit for a few weeks, but there is not a scenario short of total US government dissolution that would incline me to consider living there again; and even then, only after a zombie apocalypse had cleansed the place.

Sun, 10/13/2013 - 10:48 | 4049830 WayBehind
WayBehind's picture

"There are a lot of families who are not going to be able to feed children because the system is being maintenanced,"

Yes, I can believe the regular sheeple doesnt have food for even one day ... No surprise here

Sun, 10/13/2013 - 12:56 | 4050179 Abi Normal
Abi Normal's picture

Here is an old and scarey statistic:

Every American family is NINE (9) MEALS away from ANARCHY!

What happens if the thin veneer of the 'just in time delivery system' comes to a screeching halt?  What causes that, hmmm, govt contracts, then the unions ban together to demand contractual payments, due to shutdown and ceiling breakdown.  

I think we have TEN (10) days left to prepare for any eventuality to start to occur, it will not happen all at once, but it will be piecemeal at first, then snowballing, towards end of year chaos.


Sgt Unix Crust at your service.

Mon, 10/14/2013 - 05:03 | 4052105 Parrotile
Parrotile's picture

Those who live in Metropolitan areas have become accustomed to not needing to plan that far ahead, because of the reliability of the "Just In Time" invisible reprovisioning systems that have evolved to supply this type of community. For the smaller apartment dweller space is an issue too - so there would be a conflict of needs on more than one level.

In rural areas necessity has maintained the "strategic reserve" mindset, so generally those living outside of the larger conurbations will be better prepared, often in more ways than one (e.g. secure water supply, on-site wastewater management, solar water heating, maybe a combination of PV and wind generation), simply because of the rural lifestyle,  available space, and not being "stuck in a concrete and glass box in the air" - which is the lifestyle of the majority of the US Population - by necessity as well as by choice.

Mon, 10/14/2013 - 14:52 | 4053372 mickeyman
mickeyman's picture

Good thing it didn't happen here in Canada--it's Thanksgiving.

Mon, 10/14/2013 - 19:37 | 4054318 TheRedScourge
TheRedScourge's picture

Twenty fiat dollars says the system doesn't collapse within the next 20 days.

Sun, 10/13/2013 - 10:56 | 4049841 NoDebt
NoDebt's picture

OK, so the author feels compelled to gets in a little dig in on us Hedgies for not understanding deeply enough his previous article about collapse risk in a complex system.

Let me return the favor:  The fact that he didn't know that Xerox was behind the Foodstamp payment system tells me he might want to get his nose out of the books every now and then.  IT WAS TOUTED ON XEROX'S TV COMMERCIALS FOR ALMOST A YEAR.  You know- the ones where they talk about all the stuff they do that is NOT about printing and copying.  I recall they also talked about running some cities electronic transit token systems as well.  So, heads up, bookworm!  Might want to look into what else that craggy old copier company is mismanaging for government agencies around the country.

Sun, 10/13/2013 - 20:48 | 4051513 U4 eee aaa
U4 eee aaa's picture

What's a TV?

Sun, 10/13/2013 - 22:12 | 4051728 Flagit
Flagit's picture

What's a TV?

Tethered Visualization.

on your iphone, run the TeVi app.

blink twice to accept the Accidental Death Waiver.

start viewing.

Mon, 10/14/2013 - 14:20 | 4053202 mkkby
mkkby's picture

You are PROUD of watching commercials?  There's a good little sheep.  Swallow your doses of propoganda. 

Throw away that TV and eventually you can start thinking for yourself, probably for the first time.   Ah, never mind. With your sub normal IQ, you'll never learn.

Mon, 10/14/2013 - 09:15 | 4052388 N2OJoe
N2OJoe's picture

And the bad guys hit this american vulnerability and take out the Free Shit Army in the process.

Sun, 10/13/2013 - 13:25 | 4050288 caShOnlY
caShOnlY's picture

"If a man does not work, let him also not eat". It is from 2 Thes 3:10 and was said by Paul, and later paraphrased by John Smith.


LaQuasha would like to have some words "wid dat Aeropostale"!!!!!




Sun, 10/13/2013 - 13:40 | 4050361 tvdog
tvdog's picture

See my remarks about 2 Thess 3:10 above. Also see Matthew 19: 21-24:

21 Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.

22 But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.

23 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven.

24 And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.


Sun, 10/13/2013 - 15:09 | 4050669 css1971
css1971's picture

That stuff has been misquoted and mistranslated so many times it's little more than word salad now.

Here's a Google translate of the above sentence:  English -> German -> French -> English.

"The fabric was so often distorted and mistranslated, it is a little more word salad now."
Sun, 10/13/2013 - 23:43 | 4051865 Henry Hub
Henry Hub's picture

***Jesus said unto him...***

There are a lot of things that Jesus said that a lot of "Christians" would like to ignore. This is one instance and the driving the money changers from the Temple is another. For the average greedy, corrupt American being a Christian is an act of delusion and cognitive dissidence.

Sun, 10/13/2013 - 17:03 | 4050949 darkstar7646
darkstar7646's picture

That's nice.

You may wish to start enforcing that.

Like over the course of the last 20 years or so...

Sun, 10/13/2013 - 22:23 | 4051757 The Burning Planet
The Burning Planet's picture

Fuck Paul. Murderer, torturer and tax collector. Wrote most of the NT. I have infinitely more respect for Socrates, who lived in a barrel.

Sun, 10/13/2013 - 10:40 | 4049800 AetosAeros
AetosAeros's picture

Ghetto Visa!


What's in your wallet?

Sun, 10/13/2013 - 10:43 | 4049804 diesheepledie
diesheepledie's picture

That's actually close to chimp speak. Although much more intelligible, than real ebonic inner city garble.

Mon, 10/14/2013 - 14:39 | 4053306 MeelionDollerBogus
MeelionDollerBogus's picture

Good thing y'alls not rayciss.

Sun, 10/13/2013 - 11:38 | 4049970 Stoploss
Stoploss's picture

I thowt zeeerox yewsed battera bakep?

Sun, 10/13/2013 - 10:59 | 4049855 starfcker
starfcker's picture

saw this in 2005 when hurricane wilma hit ft. lauderdale. thousands of indigeonous population lined up in the hot sun all day waiting for the trucks to arrive to hand them 2 gallons of free water. the tap water was never turned off, if you needed water all you had to do was turn the faucet. jeb bush had the trucks full, staged and ready down in homestead. they weren't moving because the beaurocrat in charge spent the day staring at his cellphone waiting for the order to roll. he didn't realize the cell towers were down. to quote pat buchanan, regarding katrina, "where were the men of new orleans?"

Sun, 10/13/2013 - 10:36 | 4049787 Meat Hammer
Meat Hammer's picture

Pladizow, it would also expose those who are scamming the system.  The truly needy would go to the local church or food bank for help.  The scammers would just say awwwwww sheeeeeeit and go sell some weed or cheer themselves up with a new set of rims for the Chevy Corsica.

Sun, 10/13/2013 - 11:12 | 4049890 Tijuana Donkey Show
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