Rousselle returns with follow-up to viral welfare column: ‘Don’t shoot the brunette messenger’

Christine Rousselle — whose column two weeks ago about what she described as welfare abuses as witnessed from the position of cashier at Walmart went viral on the Internet — is back with a follow-up.

Rousselle, 20, is a Scarborough native now attending Providence College, and her post for the blog The College Conservative earned her plaudits among the biggest names in right-wing punditry and scored her radio and television air-time nationwide. In the first two days, the story reached 400,000 page views, and after 10 days, it racked up 138,000 Facebook “likes” and nearly 1,200 Tweets.

For a recap, if you haven’t seen her first welfare column crossing your Facebook news feed, she wrote about checking out Walmart customers who were using government subsidies and food stamps to buy professional wrestling action figures and $60 of lobster, among other things.

Many, including Ann Coulter, Michelle Malkin, Mark Levin, and her former coworkers at Walmart, applauded Rousselle’s column as fresh perspective on how tax dollars are being wasted on frivolous purchases. Here’s Levin reading the column on his radio show and commenting on it:


But there have been others who slammed the column as elitist, and told Rousselle in various forums (response columns, Twitter, comments on the various places where stories about Rousselle appeared) that she should try living at a homeless shelter or working as a social worker before passing judgment on those using food stamps at the Scarborough Walmart.

@crousselle on Twitter

In her follow-up, posted on The College Conservative today, Rousselle said opponents “were calling me out for everything including the size of my arms and the color of my hair.”

Rousselle acknowledges in her latest piece that she doesn’t believe everyone on welfare is scamming the system, but she still believes reforms are badly needed. Here’s an excerpt:

I wasn’t condemning all welfare recipients, as one website’s twisted headline suggested. I wasn’t condemning the disabled nor the homeless. I was condemning those who make a career out of welfare. I was condemning those who buy extravagant purchases with state aid such as those who use aid to purchase items to fund a party (as two boys buying three 24-packs of Mountain Dew one night with EBT announced, “Yeah, we’re having a party tonight!” as the state paid for their beverages. Lovely. Also, I’ve heard Mountain Dew is horrible for your teeth…). I was condemning those who are essentially stealing taxpayer money to use on things for which it was not intended. People should be upset about this.

Rousselle also offers more anecdotes of what she describes as instances of “people taking advantage of the system”:

My mother used to work in the electronics department. She watched customers pay in cash for expensive electronics, and then turn around and buy food with EBT. My aunt was a cashier at another supermarket, and she told of how people would buy glass jugs of milk with EBT, dump the milk outside, and redeem the bottle for $1.50 to spend elsewhere (Maine has a bottle deposit on most beverages). It eventually got to the point where the store had to limit the amount of milk a person could purchase per transaction because the milk was being wasted down the sewer. That’s despicable. Another woman shared a story of one of her customers asking her young daughter where “the card you were playing EBT with yesterday went.” EBT is not a game. Welfare should not be treated as a game. This is how generations of dependency start. If a child grows up thinking receiving governmental help to buy food and other items is a normal, expected thing, and never sees her mother work, she has no constructive example of how to improve her situation. That’s not what I want to see in Maine. That’s not what conservatives want to see nationwide.

Let the debate over Welfare Column No. 2 begin. The folks who didn’t like the original may not be swayed by the follow-up, but one thing seems clear: Rousselle’s sticking to her guns.

Seth Koenig

About Seth Koenig

Seth has nearly a decade of professional journalism experience and writes about the greater Portland region.