Big Brother and Joe the Plumber

This report is rather disturbing. Joe the Plumber might be wrong when he talks about taxes and wrong when he speaks out on foreign policy, but he does have the right to express his views. The Columbus Dispatch writes:

A state agency has revealed that its checks of computer systems for potential information on “Joe the Plumber” were more extensive than it first acknowledged.

Helen Jones-Kelley, director of the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, disclosed today that computer inquiries on Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher were not restricted to a child-support system.

The agency also checked Wurzelbacher in its computer systems to determine whether he was receiving welfare assistance or owed unemployment compensation taxes, she wrote.

Jones-Kelley made the revelations in a letter to Ohio Senate President Bill M. Harris, R-Ashland, who demanded answers on why state officials checked out Wurzelbacher.

Harris called the multiple records checks “questionable” and said he awaits more answers. “It’s kind of like Big Brother is looking in your pocket,” he said.

If state employees run checks on every person listed in newspaper stories as buying a business, “it must take a lot of people a lot of time to run these checks,” he said. “Where do you draw the line?”

The government certainly has an interest in denying welfare to those who do not qualify and to seek out people who are failing to pay child support, but there is also a strong interest in preserving freedom of expression. If a case worker were to see that someone they were actually sending welfare benefits to was mentioned in the newspapers as having substantial resources, I could see them questioning the situation. It is a different matter when a search is conducted on somebody simply because they make the news and there is absolutely no evidence presented that they are involved in any form of fraud related to the investigations.

1 Comment

  1. 1
    Doodad Pro says:

    Thanks for saying this.  You are about the only lefty blog who seems to have a problem with it.

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