Carl Paladino, the right-wing businessman who’s seeking the Republican nomination for governor of New York while also running on his own self-created “Tea Party” ballot line, has a new proposal to deal with welfare in New York: Provide the poor job and lifestyle training — by putting them in prisons.
As the Associated Press reports:
Paladino first described the idea in June at a meeting of The Journal News of White Plains and spoke about it again this week with The Associated Press.
Asked at the meeting how he would achieve those savings, Paladino laid out several plans that included converting underused state prisons into centers that would house welfare recipients. There, they would do work for the state — “military service, in some cases park service, in other cases public works service,” he said — while prison guards would be retrained to work as counselors.
“Instead of handing out the welfare checks, we’ll teach people how to earn their check. We’ll teach them personal hygiene … the personal things they don’t get when they come from dysfunctional homes,” Paladino said.
Paladino appeared this morning on Fox & Friends, and further explained that the proposal was “clearly intended to describe a work-for-welfare type of program, which would use facilities available. Prisons were just one of them. And when we were talking about prisons, we were talking about minimum security facilities, which are basically dormitories — basically something like a college campus, for all intents and purposes. And you take the barbed wire down, and you convert and repurpose the facilities for the use that you intend. It would be totally on a voluntary basis, as to where and what specific program the people joining the overall program would go.”
The TPM Poll Average for the Republican primary has former Rep. Rick Lazio leading Paladino by 42.6%-21.6%. The primary will be held on September 14.
One can’t help but be reminded of the classic scene from Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, where the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge is asked to make a donation to charity:
“Are there no prisons?” asked Scrooge.
“Plenty of prisons,” said the gentleman, laying down the pen again.
“And the Union workhouses?” demanded Scrooge. “Are they still in operation?”
“They are. Still,” returned the gentleman, “I wish I could say they were not.”
“The Treadmill and the Poor Law are in full vigour, then?” said Scrooge.
“Both very busy, sir.”
“Oh! I was afraid, from what you said at first, that something had occurred to stop them in their useful course,” said Scrooge. “I’m very glad to hear it.”
“Under the impression that they scarcely furnish Christian cheer of mind or body to the multitude,” returned the gentleman, “a few of us are endeavouring to raise a fund to buy the Poor some meat and drink, and means of warmth. We choose this time, because it is a time, of all others, when Want is keenly felt, and Abundance rejoices. What shall I put you down for?”
“Nothing!” Scrooge replied.
“You wish to be anonymous?”
“I wish to be left alone,” said Scrooge. “Since you ask me what I wish, gentlemen, that is my answer. I don’t make merry myself at Christmas and I can’t afford to make idle people merry. I help to support the establishments I have mentioned—they cost enough; and those who are badly off must go there.”
“Many can’t go there; and many would rather die.”
“If they would rather die,” said Scrooge, “they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population. Besides—excuse me—I don’t know that.”
“But you might know it,” observed the gentleman.
“It’s not my business,” Scrooge returned. “It’s enough for a man to understand his own business, and not to interfere with other people’s. Mine occupies me constantly. Good afternoon, gentlemen!”