For those of us who didn’t realize it before, the 21,000 Chasidim in the community of Kiryas Joel are a serious threat to our economy, at least by the standards of the New York Times which featured a front page article, accompanied by a color photo of their children on April 21rst. These rascals in training are the main reason that the community qualifies for government assistance: the birth rate averages six children to a family which means that even families which earn more than the poverty cutoff may be entitled to food stamps and other benefits. Sam Roberts, the reporter, notes that there are plenty of cars and bikes and carriages in the community and nobody looks bedraggled, so without actually stating that these people are cheating the public, he wink-winks his readers as to what’s really going on. We all know that those guys with yarmulkes are genetically gifted at extracting money in dubious ways - just look at the swarm of little boys with their little right hands in grab-ready position. Just look at the infants in their bassinets on page 22 - you can almost see the legal tender floating through their tender little dreams.
In 2009, there were approximately 42 million people in the U.S. living in poverty; of these, 51% were Black and Hispanic. Of the 15 million children living in poverty, 68% were Black and Hispanic. (statistics courtesy of U.S. Census) When was the last time you read a front page expose in the Times about welfare cheating in Washington D.C., Harlem, Bed-Stuy, Newark of Watts? Wouldn’t it make sense to go where the big numbers are instead of to a tiny hamlet in Orange County with a grand total of 21,000 residents? Mr. Roberts reports on the 10 million dollars in federal and state grants that went towards building a “luxurious postnatal maternal care center” were mothers can recuperate after childbirth. I’m not sure what sort of luxury Sam has in mind since you can’t even buy a 3 bedroom apartment at 15 Central Park West for only 10 million bucks.
I can’t swear that there is no gaming of the system in Kiryas Joel. Since these Jews, much like Shylock, have all the same eyes, hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions as their non-Jewish counterparts, there may be some people who take advantage of loopholes, who fudge the numbers or worse. The main difference between them and the other recipients of state and federal assistance is that they represent the tiniest fraction of the chart - they constitute .005% of people living in poverty in the United States. With all the enormous national and local financial scandals that have inhabited that important front page in the past few years, does the community of Kiryas Joel really merit such a place of honor?
Have PoliticalMavens.com delivered to your inbox in a daily digest by clicking here