When welfare agency boss Jason Turner came to town last year, he brought a posse of reformers with him, men obsessed with jobs, marriage and getting New Yorkers off the dole. Now, caseloads have fallen by a third, New York’s welfare offices are turning into job centers–and the feds have started sniffing around his policies.
In the December issue of City Limits, now available on newsstands, get up close and personal with the man that told PBS “It’s work that sets you free”–and get an inside look at his right-wing brain trust.
Ever since a magazine article on welfare converted him into a zealot in 8th grade, Turner has believed that work is salvation. As Editor Carl Vogel and reporter Neil deMause found out, Turner has worked a lot himself–as summer-job cabby, as official at Housing & Urban Development, and as an inner-city landlord.
His top men–wedlocksmith Andrew Bush, who believes married couples should get preference for the dole, and paternalism promoter Lawrence Mead–have impeccable conservative pedigrees. They also have track records: Bush has worried in print about “the reality that women do not like to ‘marry down,'” and Mead has written that welfare recipients appreciate workfare: “They take it as a form of caring.”