Opinion Brief

Prison camps for welfare recipients?

A Tea Party-backed NY gubernatorial candidate has suggested welfare recipients be housed in unused jails. Does anyone agree with him?

Carl Paladino, a wealthy real estate developer and Republican candidate for New York governor, has suggested transforming former state prisons into voluntary work camps for people on welfare. Paladino said those who enrolled in his "Dignity Corps" would receive training in job hunting, "personal hygiene" and other skills typically lacking in people who "come from dysfunctional homes." Even though the Tea Party-backed candidate said the program would be voluntary, anti-poverty groups reacted to the suggestion with disgust. "Being poor is not a crime," one advocate for New York City's low-income residents told the Associated Press. Is anyone getting behind this idea? (Watch a local report about Paladino's proposal)

This is typical welfare-hating Republican bluster: What an outrage, says Karoli at Crooks and Liars. Do Republicans really want to take us back to a time when the "poor went to poorhouses" and were "treated like chattel"? Welfare gives Americans "an opportunity to survive with at least a foothold to a better life." If Paladino keeps up with this, the Democrats "might win by the biggest landslide in New York history."
"GOP NY Governor candidate Paladino argues for welfare camps"

But we need to find alternatives to our handout culture: Of course New York's liberals are self-righteously outraged by this, says Jeff Graham at his Major Graham blog. But there's nothing wrong with an "efficiently run county dormitory" for those without housing, nor anything wrong with "helping people." Even if the prison idea is a "bit harsh," at least Paladino is attempting to find solutions to a welfare state that is spinning out of control.
"Paladino's 'Dignity Corps'... guaranteed liberal outrage"

Just the latest outrageous outburst from Paladino: This isn't the only time Paladino's "inflammatory rhetoric" has raised suggestions about his fitness for public office, says Fredric U. Dicker at the New York Post. This is the same man who compared healthcare reform to the 9/11 attacks, and suggested one Manhattan Dem should be "imprisoned in Attica" and "beaten by angry taxpayers." The only surprise here is he's "gaining in opinion polls."
"Cuomo's camp likes kook Carl"

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