Recent Tweets

Welfare Reform: The Rise of the Super-Rich

By: Richard Brodsky


Decades ago, the Right decided to demonize poor folks, and coined phrases like "welfare mothers" and used them to anger middle-class taxpayers.  It worked, and in the American tradition of ideas ultimately mattering, it lead to a fundamental change in programs and attitudes toward the poor. 

Today, the real "welfare" recipients are from precisely the opposite strata of society.  We scrutinize and begrudge the few public dollars that support poor families.  At the same time we write billion dollar checks to the super-rich.  In New York City, the Bloomberg Administration has committed close to $10 billion public dollars for the Steinbrenners, the Wilpons, and our newest international multibillionaire Russia's Mikhail Prokhorov to build three new sports facilities.  We starve the MTA, hospitals and schools, put plenty bucks for professional sports.  And hundreds of millions for Goldman Sachs, at a time when their annual profit is over $11 billion a year.

In the old, old days, welfare was a good thing.  It meant we were looking out for each other.  More recently, it was a code word for beating up on the poor.  And now, it means giving public dollars to the rich and powerful while laying off teachers and firefighters, and trying to dismantle public pensions and unions.

None of this is inevitable.  We can re-invest in our City and State, we can protect the middle-class,  we can treat workers fairly, we can care about and for the old and the poor.  But only if we insist on fairness, and organize politically to return things to  a system that protects and encourages the average person, not the super-rich.  Now that's a kind of welfare reform I can support.

Richard Brodsky is a former 14 term NYS Assemblyman from Westchester and Senior Fellow at Demos, a non-partisan public policy research and advocacy organization founded in 2000.  

To view the May 12 report exposing the Big Bank subsidies and corporate welfare, click here.