Submitted by Lawrence Rafferty, (rafflaw) Guest Blogger
Over the past few weeks and months, we have read repeatedly about how politicians are upset that the government is doing nothing about jobs. We hear it from the Right and we hear it from the Left, but the unemployment rate is still around 9.0% with many out of work Americans no longer looking for work. With this background, I was incensed when I read about a Minnesota legislative proposal to bar citizens on public aid from having more than $20.00 cash in their pocket at any time!
“Minnesota Republicans are pushing legislation that would make it a crime for people on public assistance to have more $20 in cash in their pockets any given month. This represents a change from their initial proposal, which banned them from having any money at all. On March 15, Angel Buechner of the Welfare Rights Committee testified in front of the House Health and Human Services Reform Committee on House File 171. Buechner told committee members, “We would like to address the provision that makes it illegal for MFIP [one of Minnesota’s welfare programs] families to withdraw cash from the cash portion of the MFIP grant – and in fact, appears to make it illegal for MFIP families to have any type of money at all in their pockets. How do you expect people to take care of business like paying bills such as lights, gas, water, trash and phone?” ‘ Crooks and Liars
I know of other states that require that unemployment benefits be deposited into debit card accounts, but the worker can get cash from that card. Minnesota seems to think that $25.00 in one’s pocket is an indication that they are wasting the public aid money! These same politicians have no problem in granting Billions of dollars in tax give aways to the wealthy and to corporations, but God forbid an unemployed person, or a disabled person who might have $30.00 in their pocket!
I wonder why Minnesota and other states are requiring that public aid benefits be deposited into a debit card account? Could it be that the fees banks charge for the use of the debit card has something to do with this legislative nightmare? Maybe if we follow the money, we will find some Minnesota legislators who are receiving contributions from the Bank lobby. How will this Draconian anti-cash proposal be enforced? Will unemployed people be stopped in the street and frisked? Will there be a “Cash Swat Team” roaming the streets of Minnesota searching to find those pesky cash spending poor people? This very same legislation will even make it illegal for the debit card to be used outside of the state of Minnesota. Firedoglake
This attack on the Poor and unemployed is not just limited to Minnesota. We have seen the unemployment benefits attacked in Washington, D.C. and in states like Missouri. Missouri is cutting off the benefits of the unemployed who go beyond the magical deadline of 79 weeks. “Because the Senate failed to act, the extended benefits program will expire March 27, and the final checks will go out April 2. The state Department of Labor estimates 11,700 Missourians were receiving extended benefits in early March, while about 6,500 more were nearing the 79-week cutoff. About 950 unemployed workers become eligible for the extended benefits each week, according to department officials. But Lembke and other fiscal hawks argued that the state should reject the federal money and cut off benefits at 79 weeks to protest government spending and large federal deficits.” McClatchey Here they are cutting off the benefits of people who are desperate and out of work and these politicians claim that they are doing it to “protest” the fiscal policies in Washington!
These are just a couple of the examples of the assault on the poor and unemployed of Minnesota and Missouri. But it is happening in Wisconsin, Ohio, Florida, New Hampshire and Maine and all over the country. Even though the Banksters get millions in bonuses and the wealthy get huge tax breaks from the Federal government and many states, the politicians keep talking about fiscal responsibility. Some have even called the long-term unemployed lazy and claim that they are satisfied with staying home and receiving the governmental pittance that is called public aid. Crooks and Liars I just can’t remember a time when being poor and getting laid off from your job because the corporation that you work for has outsourced your job, was considered a heinous crime.
We have politicians in our country who have violated laws against torturing detainees in our War on Terror, but yet they are making millions writing books and going on TV to claim that they did nothing wrong. Why are they allowed to make millions and to not suffer the slings and arrows of a governmental intrusion into their lives, but yet if you lose your job and can’t find work in this Depression, and you have $25.00 in your pocket, you are subject to arrest? Who are these people who decide that the wealthy need every break possible, but that the poor are to be mistrusted?
I would like to paraphrase a question that was asked of Senator Joseph McCarthy in a Congressional hearing in the 1950’s and direct it to the legislators who are behind this affront against the poor and middle class. ”Have you no Shame”? Some of these same politicians claim that this is a Christian country. If that is true, I think Christ is crying tears of blood today.