HIGHTOWER: Wall Street's New Welfare Palace

The politicians of both political parties are bragging that they've "reformed" welfare by kicking the most egregious moochers off the dole. But here's a shocking new report of massive welfare abuse and scandal in New York City.This particular nest of welfare grubbers is not located in a slum tenement, though it's no less addicted to the public handouts and is absolutely brassy in its demand for more. In this case, an armored-car full of taxpayers' money is being shipped to a rather posh address: 11 Wall Street. That's the location of the New York Stock Exchange, the golden temple where Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch, and other money changers make billions in fees attached to unproductive speculation and mergers.Why are New York taxpayers sending a fat welfare check to these gabillionaires? Because the stock brokers want a new building, and if state and local governments don't put up the cash, the New York Stock Exchange says it will high tail it across the Hudson to New Jersey, or maybe even to Atlanta or Tucson. In other words, the New York Stock Exchange has taken a page from the playbook of sports owners and other corporate executives who engage in highway robbery by demanding new facilities and other special breaks, threatening to relocate to some other city if they don't get their money.Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and Governor George Pataki are two New York Republicans who've been fierce in criticizing the poor for taking welfare, but they have turned out to be embarrassingly liberal in their generosity to these Wall Street moochers. They plan to build a new $450 million welfare palace for the Stock Exchange on the entire block across the street from its present location, and give it another $450 million in cash and tax breaks.This is Jim Hightower saying ... In New York, you better not expect any welfare from the taxpayers ... unless, of course, you happen to live at Number 11 Wall Street.

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