They’re on the dole — and watching the pole.
Welfare recipients took out cash at bars, liquor stores, X-rated video shops, hookah parlors and even strip clubs — where they presumably spent their taxpayer money on lap dances rather than diapers, a Post investigation found.
A database of 200 million Electronic Benefit Transfer records from January 2011 to July 2012, obtained by The Post through a Freedom of Information request, showed welfare recipients using their EBT cards to make dozens of cash withdrawals at ATMs inside Hank’s Saloon in Brooklyn; the Blue Door Video porn shop in the East Village; The Anchor, a sleek SoHo lounge; the Patriot Saloon in TriBeCa; and Drinks Galore, a liquor distributor in The Bronx.
The state Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA), which oversees the “cash assistance program,” even lists some of these welfare-ready ATMs on its Web site.
One EBT machine is stationed inside Club Eleven, an infamous Hunts Point jiggle joint known as much for its violent history as its girls in pink thongs.
Cops have been cracking down on the Bronx club since 2009 and shut it down temporarily in 2010. In July, five men were stabbed and two others shot outside after bouncers broke up a 4 a.m. brawl with pepper spray. The club appeared to be shuttered when The Post visited Thursday.
Club Heat, another Bronx strip club that dispenses EBT cash, is also no stranger to violence. A 33-year-old woman was fatally shot in the head outside the club in December 2011.
Critics blasted the government for turning a blind eye to welfare’s sleazy money.
“This is morally scandalous,” said Michael Tanner, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute. “I have nothing against strip clubs, but that’s not what benefits are for. I don’t blame [recipients]. If you are poor, it’s a crummy life and you want to have a drink or see a naked woman. I blame the people who are in charge of this.”
Welfare recipients receive food stamps and cash assistance under the federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program. Both benefits are accessed through an EBT card, but only cash assistance — meant for housing, utilities and household necessities — can be accessed at ATMs.
A single-person household could receive a maximum $200 in monthly food stamps plus $158 in cash assistance. A family of four could get as much as $668 in food stamps and $433 in cash.
The food-stamp program prohibits the purchase of booze, tobacco and lottery tickets with an EBT card. But with the cash-assistance program, users can blow money on strippers or a six-pack and to tap welfare dollars from liquor stores, casinos and adult-oriented establishments.
The Post found dozens of pubs, nightclubs and tobacco shops where welfare dough was dispensed — and presumably spent.
The Boiler Room, a gay dive bar in the East Village, had $120 and $60 transactions a minute apart on Jan. 17, 2011. The bar is around the corner from a Bank of America that takes EBT cards.
West Village tobacco shop Shisha International had EBT transactions ranging from $40 to $180 in 2011. The store is near at least two EBT-friendly ATMs.
Legislative efforts to crack down on sinful spending have fallen short.
State Sen. Tom Libous (R-Binghamton) passed a bill in his chamber in June that would outlaw welfare withdrawals at gambling dens, strip clubs and other venues of vice, but the measure is gathering dust in the Democratic-controlled Assembly.
Libous is looking for a new Assembly sponsor to carry the bill in that house in the upcoming legislative session, after past sponsor George Latimer (D-Rye) was elected to the state Senate.
With only one of the city’s Assembly members, Nicole Malliotakis (R-B’klyn./SI), as a co-sponsor, the bill faces an uphill battle.
The Assembly typically doesn’t support welfare reform, because its more liberal members think the measures “hurt the poor,” Libous said. If the bill remains stalled, the state stands to lose $120 million in federal welfare funding.
The Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act, signed by President Obama last February, requires states to prohibit sinful welfare spending by 2014. If they don’t, they’ll forfeit federal cash.
“The people who are stealing from the program are the ones I want to go after,” Libous said. “Not someone who lost his job or a single mom who has to feed her kids. That’s what this program is supposed to be for.”
A spokesman with the US Department of Health and Human Services said states make their own rules on EBT cards.
Some states already limit where EBT cards can withdraw money.
A rep from OTDA, New York’s welfare office, said the state does not choose or regulate which retailers get ATMs that handle EBTs. Instead, retailers decide whether to use an ATM that accepts welfare cards.
Additional reporting by Susan Edelman and Brad Hamilton
The instructions of the LORD are perfect, reviving the soul. The decrees of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The commandments of the LORD are right, bringing joy to the heart. The commands of the LORD are clear, giving insight for living.
I have just begun my sixth year as the main author of the Daily Reflections. I consider the opportunity to write these reflections as one of the great blessings of my life. How grateful I am to be able to study God’s Word carefully, to consider how it speaks to our lives today, and then to share with you what I have discovered.
At the beginning of each calendar year, I like to devote one day’s reflection to a discussion of the purpose of the Daily Reflections. I want to help you use the reflections well in your life. Also, I want to give you a vision for helping us fulfill the mission of the Daily Reflections.
The Purpose of the Daily Reflections
Psalm 19:7-8 epitomizes the purpose of the Daily Reflections. These devotional writings are meant to revive souls, make wise the simple, bring joy to the heart, and give insight for daily living. Regular reading of, reflection upon, and praying in response to Scripture will help us know God more truly and intimately, thus renewing us and giving us new vision for life. God’s Word also reveals basic values and guidance for living, thus enabling us to live purposefully and fruitfully.
Explaining a Few Essentials of the Daily Reflections
If you’re new to the Daily Reflections, and we were delighted to welcome ?,??? new subscribers in 2012, you might appreciate a brief explanation of how I choose the biblical passages each day. My ultimate goal is to work systematically through the entire Bible, passage by passage. During the week, I focus on some book of the Bible, alternating back and forth between Old Testament and New Testament. On the weekends, the Daily Reflections are based on the Psalms. Thus, we pray through the entire Psalter once every year and a half (or so). In certain seasons of the Christian year, the reflections might follow an appropriate theme (hope in Advent, for example).
Recently, I have been moving slowing through the New Testament letter known as Ephesians. My leisurely pace reflects both the incredible depth of this book and the fact that I am writing a commentary on Ephesians. As you may recall, I invited those who receive the Daily Reflections to participate with me in this project by sharing your biblical insights, questions, and applications. I have been collecting your input and will continue to do so as we move forward in Ephesians.
No matter the section of the Bible we’re studying, each day will offer a biblical passage and a short excerpt, a few paragraphs of exposition, some questions for further reflection, and a model prayer. You can read the whole reflection in about five minutes. Or you can spend more time by reading the whole biblical passage on which the reflection is based and considering the additional questions. I conclude each reflection by sharing with you one of my personal prayers. Thus, sometimes they include supplications that fit my particular situation in life, such as “Help me to be a better father.” I realize that not everyone who receives the reflections will pray in just this way. But all of us can pray for God’s help in our relationships with family members. I’m hoping to model intimacy with God by my own example.
You Can Help Us Fulfill the Mission of the Daily Reflections
Of course, the most vital way you can help us fulfill the purpose of the Daily Reflections is by using them to grow in your relationship with God. But, if you find them to be a valuable resource, you might also help us by telling others about them. Many of our readers use the “Send to a friend” link in each email to forward reflections to friends or family members. Others share the reflections by using the “View and share online” link, which allows for quick posting to Facebook or Twitter. Some churches and parachurch organizations link to The High Calling and encourage their members to sign up for the Daily Reflections. I would ask simply that you let folks know about this resource when it seems appropriate.
You can also help by praying for me, that I will be faithful to God’s Word as I study, pray, and write, and that I will be wise in the connections I make between biblical truth and our lives today. I’m always glad to hear from you, whether you have questions, concerns, or simply want to say “Thanks.”
I pray that God will use the Daily Reflections in your life to help you grow in your relationship with him and in your ability to live your faith in the world each day.
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: How has regular reflection upon God’s Word enriched and deepened your faith? Are there some specific ways you would like to grow in 2013? Can you think of anyone in your life who might benefit from knowing about the Daily Reflections?
PRAYER: Thank you, gracious God, for your truth revealed in Scripture. Thank you for how it revives our souls and makes us wise. Thank you for how your Word delights us and helps us to live well each day.
Help me, dear Lord, to be immersed in your Word each day. May it shape my thinking and my feeling, my dreams and my actions. May it draw me into a deeper relationship with you and help me to live as your disciple in every facet of my life.
With the friends who receive these reflections, I ask, dear Lord, that you guide me by your Spirit. Help me to discern and speak the truth. May I be faithful to your Word in all that I write. And may I be led by you to address the issues and concerns of my fellow “reflectors.” May the Daily Reflections glorify you and contribute to your kingdom work in this world.
I pray in the name of Jesus, my Lord and Savior. Amen.
After Winter the Eternal Tomorrow
To the man out of Christ, the fall of the year, in spite of its many charms, must surely bring with it a deep and hidden terror. For it speaks of the approaching end, the time when it may be said, “The summer is ended, and we are not saved.” It would be good indeed if the autumn winds could preach to the lost soul of the brevity of life and the long winter ahead.
The true Christian will not be saddened by the winds that herald the approach of winter. Like the wise ant he has made his preparation, and while the gusty tempest howls over him, he will sleep sweet in Christ while the circle of the heavens moves on toward the consummation of all things of which Moses and the prophets have spoken.
Happy man who knows that everything is well with him and that he will be among the blessed in that day when the breath of Jesus, like a breeze of spring, shall stir the sleeping dead to life again after the long night.
Karl Elsener, a Swiss designer of surgical equipment in the 19th century, worked for years on perfecting a military knife. Today his Swiss Army Knife is associated with excellence in blades and a variety of utilities. One model includes knife blades, a saw, scissors, a magnifying glass, a can opener, a screwdriver, a ruler, a toothpick, a writing pen, and more—all in one knife! If you are out camping in the wild, this one item can certainly make you feel equipped for survival.
We need something to equip us to survive spiritually in this sinful world. God has given us His Word, a kind of spiritual knife for the soul. Paul writes: “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16-17).
The word translated equipped means to “furnish or fit completely.” How does the Bible equip us for life’s journey? It provides spiritual truth in doctrine; reproof in showing our imperfections; correction by revealing our sinful failures; and instruction in living a righteous life. There’s not a more valuable tool than God’s Word to make us fully equipped for spiritual survival and personal growth.
The story’s told of two guys who were arguing about religion. One of them finally shouted, “Okay, you serve God your way and I’ll serve Him His way!” When we make our opinions a precondition for loving one another, we end up alienating one another. Much of what we fight about doesn’t matter. Jesus said, “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (Jn 13:35 NKJV). It’s not enough to love peace, you’ve got to become a peacemaker. When a fight erupted in the New Testament church over eating certain foods, Paul stepped in: “Let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister. I am convinced being fully persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for that person it is unclean. If your brother or sister is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy someone for whom Christ died. Therefore do not let what you know is good to be spoken of as evil. For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval. Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification…So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God” (Ro 14:13-22 NIV). So, be a peacemaker!
Dear CRM 495 Students:
Welcome back! It’s hard to believe that Christmas break is over and that it’s time to start a new semester. It’s almost as hard as believing that one of your professors is actually sending you an email using the word “Christmas.” But even the liberals agree that I am no ordinary professor. Please allow me to explain.
After I got tenure, I left the political Left and became a conservative Republican. I know you’ve never had a conservative professor before and you are probably wondering what to expect. In a nutshell, you can expect to hear the truth about a number of things for the very first time in your college career. And that means you can probably expect to be offended from time to time.
Just in case you are wondering whether you are getting in over your head, let me give you a few examples of beliefs I hold, which you may well deem to be offensive. Based on the following revelations, you can make an informed decision as to whether this class is really for you.
African-Americanism. I think the term African-American is ridiculous. If you insist on being called this then you aren’t American and you’ve probably never been to Africa. If you demand to be a hyphenated American then you’re just un-American. Get over yourself or get out of the country. Sorry if you’re offended but you offend me with your ethnocentrism.
Coke. I cannot stand that four letter word that begins with “c” and refers to female genitalia. Repeating it at The Vagina Monologues does not make women empowered. It makes them unrefined idiots. If you c*** c*** a feminist play without using feminists who say the word c*** then you simply c*** be taken seriously. Sorry if you’re offended, but women who curse like sailors offend me.
Daddy issues. Every semester, I get at least one female student who comes into class late and hyperventilating. She makes a scene in order to get sympathy. Then, she apologizes after class while dumping all her personal problems on me. Let me be blunt: women like this have daddy issues. Put simply, daddy didn’t give them enough attention and now they are seeking it from me because I remind them of daddy. Sorry that offends you. Go tell your daddy.
Guns. I have more guns than I need but fewer than I want. In fact, as I sit in my home office writing this email I am positioned between two packed gun safes. There are enough guns in this room to issue a 21 gun salute in the event you don’t make it through the semester. There are also about 12,000 rounds of ammunition in this room. And there is more elsewhere in the house. Some people are afraid of guns but I am afraid of gunlessness. Most of your professors say that homophobia is a social disease. I say that hoplophobia is a social disease. If you don’t like abortion – oops! I mean guns – you don’t have to have one.
Momma’s boys. Every semester, I get at least three male students who cannot run their lives. They constantly ask me questions that I have already answered on the syllabus. When is the first test? What kind of questions are on it? How many tests are there? These are the kinds of young males who still could not wipe their bottoms when they were 12 (and probably still can’t do their own laundry). If you are one of them, you have no chance of passing my class and no chance of succeeding in life. Please drop out now and join the army. Sorry if that offends you but you need to be a man. If that’s too much to ask, just complain to momma next time you’re home dropping off your laundry.
Pepsi. I cannot stand that five letter word that begins with “p” and refers to female genitalia. Every year at The Vagina Monologues, they sell p***** pops, which are little candied vaginas on a stick. The feminists walk around licking them in a display of feminist empowerment. I hate to be p**** but why don’t they sell p**** pops, too. Maybe that would offend them. That’s too bad because their sexism offends me.
Queer Centers. When I was a kid, we played “smear the queer” (dodge ball). Later, they said we could not call it that. Now, the word “queer” has made a queer re-entry into the realm of social acceptability. Some colleges are even opening “Queer Resource Centers.” Make up your mind, thought police. And stop acting like women with daddy issues! Sorry if that offends you. Indecisiveness offends me.
Racial Preferences. If you can’t get into college without checking a box that says African-American or Hispanic, you do not need to be here. Sorry but the only reason there are racial differences in SAT scores is because minorities refuse to take off the training wheels. You’re just as smart as anyone else so hop off the Big Wheel and join the bike race. Sorry if you’re offended but your racism offends me.
Wolf-crying. People cry racism all the time. In fact, I’ve been told I’m a racist for opposing affirmative action. That’s funny to me. I don’t think blacks need a crutch because I believe they are equal. Therefore, I’m called a racist – even though I was the first kid on my block to own a Flip Wilson record. Those people (oops, I said, those people) need to chill. In fact, I should let them borrow my old Flip Wilson record to lighten the mood. Next thing you know, they’ll say Flip Wilson offends them because Geraldine made fun of cross dressing. Have I mentioned that cross-dressing offends me?
XXX. Pornography is more than disgusting. It is evil and I hate it. This is probably not offensive to anyone – unless, of course, you are a porn star. But, once you become a porn star, you pretty much give up the right to be offended. If you’re offended anyway just drop my class and sign up for one of Dr. Porco’s instead (no I did not make up that last name). Dr. Porco was just hired by the UNCW English Department despite (or perhaps because of) the fact that he published a book of pornographic poems – some of which were written while he was drunk and hanging out in topless bars. He tries to pass them off as academic. And that offends me, which is why I simply choose not to read them.
Now that everything is on the table, you are ready for your first assignment. Since this is a class covering the First Amendment, we are going to focus on important US Supreme Court decisions dealing with free speech. Our first case will be Gitlow v. New York. I want you to read it with two questions in mind:
1. Since the Supreme Court nationalized the First Amendment, speech codes have emerged on most state-run campuses. How have these speech codes survived in light of the nationalization movement?
2. Holmes’ dissent in this case has been often quoted. If he is correct in saying that “every idea is an incitement” then how can universities actually enforce speeches codes? As they are actually enforced, do these codes violate other portions of our constitution?
As you can see, we’ll be tackling some serious issues this semester. So we need to weed out all of the self-absorbed, hypersensitive products of the era of political correctness in higher education. That was the purpose of this email. If you are still reading then congratulations! You’ve demonstrated more intellectual integrity and emotional maturity than the majority of your professors.
See you next week in class.
Mike Adams is a criminology professor at the University of North Carolina Wilmington and author of Letters to a Young Progressive: How To Avoid Wasting Your Life Protesting Things You Don’t Understand, due out in April..