Government Work Equals Welfare

There are times, reading the news, when you just sit there staring at a story and muttering: “Are legislators really this crazy?”

Case in point:  New York State Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, who represents midtown Manhattan west side, and who I very much hope is no relation of our own Paul Gottfried`s.

Assemblyman Gottfried was responding to a New York Post exposé last Sunday, headline: “Welfare recipients take out cash at strip clubs, liquor stores and X-rated shops.”  The Post had done some data-mining on EBT (that`s Electronic Benefit Transfer ─ the “welfare card”) records obtained through a Freedom of Information request.  

The headline tells what they found. New York`s poor ─ well, some of them ─ are using their EBT cards to withdraw, and presumably spend, cash at such establishments as “Hank’s Saloon in Brooklyn; the Blue Door Video porn shop in the East Village; The Anchor, a sleek SoHo lounge; the Patriot Saloon in TriBeCa; and Drinks Galore, a liquor distributor in The Bronx.”

There has in fact been a bill pending in the state legislature for months to prevent this kind of thing.  Liberals in the Assembly have stalled the bill`s progress, though.  To them, any kind of welfare reform is just grinding the faces of the poor.

Well, Assemblyman Gottfried, addressing the issue, offered an even stranger equivalence:

Last I checked, this is America, and if somebody wants to propose that policemen, firefighters, sanitation workers, state legislators and other people paid with government funds be restricted as to what they use their money for, let them propose it. I wouldn’t support it.

So according to Assemblycritter Gottfried, there is no functional distinction between welfare relief and government employment.  Presumably that would include Gottfried`s own lifetime employment:  He has been a legislator for forty years, and according to his biography, “is a lawyer, but does not maintain a private practice. He works full time as a legislator.”

I know libertarian types who would not disagree with that equivalence; just another illustration of the fact that the left-right political spectrum is in many respects a circle, with the extremes of left and right in harmony on some of the fundamentals.