Wednesday, May 16, 2007


Anyone stealing money from the welfare system should be criminally prosecuted. Pennsylvania has had an elected Republican attorney general--Leroy Zimmerman, Ernie Preate, Mike Fisher, and now Tom Corbett--since 1980. Prosecutions for welfare theft by the State Attorney General's office have been few and far between, suggesting that there might not be much of a problem here.Pennsylvania's unemployment is at a thirty year low because of a combination of wise decisions--from cutting corporate taxes, to building up Pennsylvania's infrastructure, to encouraging new businesses, to reaching out especially to businesses on the cutting edge of modern technology, and to (I know conservatives will hate this) raising the state's minimum wage above the absurdly low federal level, thus drawing more people into the workforce.We all have an interest in seeing that Pennsylvania's welfare system is run as well as possible. Investigations of the welfare system are legitimate and appropriate.Nevertheless, it has been my experience that playing the welfare card is an especially intense old standby when Republicans are losing elections and fear they are losing ground. Welfare is just another example of the tiresome racial politics that has kept too many people's attention away from issues far more important to the interests of the middle class and the longterm public interests of us all.I believe that the results of the Philadelphia mayoral election will show that many thousands of Philadelphians are moving far beyond the ancient and longstanding politics of racial resentments. To whatever degree welfare probes are about exploiting political code words, there should be intense self-examination among the welfare probers.

April 30, 2007



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