Monday, February 02, 2009

What's the poorest place in the United States?

Kiryas Joel, the Satmar enclave in upstate NY.

Some guy I sort of know sent me this article last week; later he made the following comment: "It's partly because they're all cheating off the books. But that just makes the story worse!! It disturbs me that they've turned the whole "parasite Jew" thing from an anti-Semitic canard on the level of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion into something resembling reality."

You'll be pleased (I think) to learn that I called him on it, as follows:

(1) Not all of them are "cheating off the books." Some (many?) KJ residents under report their income, and/or play various games to qualify for different state and federal benefits, but not all of them. Some (many?) of them are honestly poor; and

(2) those who are poor, aren't "parasites." In its wisdom, the government created legitimate aid programs for people who legitimately need them. If you honestly qualify, what's wrong with using them?

More to the point, if the outside world is blissfully unaware that welfare fraud is widespread in places like KJ, are they likely to view the residents as "parasites?" I doubt it. Only the most crazed conservative still thinks of desperately poor people as "parasites." The rest of us understand that poverty isn't always avoidable; and anyway, because of the the Welfare Reform bill of 1996, its no longer possible for an honest person to receive most kinds of benefits indefinitely.

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