Opinion: NY TAP for Yeshiva Students – A Mess for all of Us


nys-albanyBy Yossi Gestetner

Some are jubilant that Yeshiva boys will now be eligible to get money through the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP), thanks to the “great” work of the NY State Assembly that approved it this week.

While helping the parents of students in need, is a great thing (I in fact was a beneficiary of the Federal Pell Grant program), my reaction here is: Thanks, but no thanks! While this will not cost too much money for the State, we gave the State yet another reason and more power to tax us ALL poor people!

Some like to think that only “businessmen” and “rich” people pay tax, failing to take note that all of us in NY pay heavy tax on every step in life: From higher rent prices; to more money at the clothing store and at the gas pump, to our stupid phone bills that costs 22% more just for tax. When buying a junk secondhand car, we also pay more only due to tax. Everywhere we pay more tax, tax, tax. In form of direct tax, or in form of paying more for products and services, which are more expensive in NY than it is in less-taxed states.

People say that “things are anyway crazy, so why not get a piece of the pie?” Others say, “We cannot change the world anyway.” Well, I didn’t say we should change the world. But we should at least slow the train wreck, which we can do with our voting powers on a local and state level here in NY, by pushing lawmakers to give – and who would give – us tax cuts and tax credits, which would help MANY start up businesses, and self employed people who try building their own business. But instead, we ask and push Lawmakers to – and Lawmakers that would – give us more programs (inlcuding TAP), which use (will use) it to win elections, and raise taxas to cover programs that are really expensive. Because we opt to the latter, we deserve these tax increases and the crazy expensive NY life!

All this is besides the point that this program – as all other Social programs – will likely be setup in a way that only those who are (or claim to be) deep down in the economic dumps will benefit of it, while those who try building an economic future, and those who earn an extra buck which is not yet enough to be called “middle class,” will not get this program, nor a good tax credit. Instead, these people will be forced to pay more in tuition (look at Section Eight/Rent prices for proof).
The Socialist system which makes it economically more beneficial for -say – a young family to earn $20,000 annually rather than $40,000 due to the 30K dollars worth of programs that the $20,000 earner gets, became now more sick . Why? Because we pushed for it! We asked for it! Years ago in NY, the Holocaust-Surviving and Baby Boom generations, had a chance at earning a living in form of an own business or by being employed by another flourishing business. But not any more:

Economic hope for today’s twenty and thirty year olds is totally dashed. Is it a wonder why we have SO many people and families that are in constant and urgent need of financial help? Is it a wonder that the amount of “Tzveken” in our community keep on growing every year on a level that one can go crazy from seeing so many people in pain? No, it is not a wonder. The voters of NY State (and elsewhere), including the Jewish vote, have pushed the tax and program agenda, thus killing business and jobs while increasing the cost of living, consequently undercutting our young generation.

The sad state of affairs is that the “last hope” for the poor here in NY – i.e. the State government – is going bankrupt! Not in rhetorical senses, but literally. The state is already cutting back on programs that we pushed for the last twenty, thirty years, and grew to become so dependent on them. The state is cutting ends and corners on Unemployment benefits, Medicaid, Education and what not. But hey, who cares? We have TAP. Right? How long until this program too gets cut, sliced and diced?

The chickens that we let out of the hen years ago in form of voting for the “programs” politicians – rather than for those who understand the balance between giving reasonable amounts of programs, while keeping bearable tax levels – are already roosting in our homes, BIG time!

{Matzav.com Newscenter}


  1. Mr. Gestetner, I couldn’t agree more. We need to get off the mentality that “the dole” is and OK lifestyle – it does nothing but hurt us in the long run. Kudos for a well written, impassioned article!

  2. You are, of course totally correct. All these “programs” are, in reality “Pogroms,” in which we ask the Government to steal our neighbor’s hard-earned money, in order to transfer it to us.

    Obama calls this “Sharing the Wealth.”

    We call this simple “Geneyva.”

    So, what shall we do in this crazy environment? If we don’t participate and take our “Share” of the spoils, we will become impoverished by the artificially-inflated costs that have been foisted on the pricing system.

    This is a “Shverer RAMBA”M.”

  3. The writer is clueless about what tap is.tap is not a government program it is a mechanism for low income students to receive access to higher education. This assistance is here to stay whether our mosdos get this money or not. The writer fails to explain the inequityof the previous system and attacks our yeshivos for finally being brought up to par with all other colleges. To say that’s he’s wrong is too easy. This is an argument I would expect from the teachers union or from the liberal left and far tight that hate our community.
    That it comes from one of ours is disgraceful.that my fellow commentors don’t get it is equally disturbing.

  4. Comment number 8 is the one who is correct. But he is mistaken on one point. TAP is a government program. There is, however, for the naysayers a way around this. Let’s have some real, bona fide baalei batim putting their money where their mouths are, and yeshivas won’t need government programs. As long as people think that going to Israel with the family for Yom Tov and building 15 million dollar homes take precedence over the real needs of our children’s yeshivos, desperate yeshivos will be forced to take money from wherever they legally can. Yeshivas don’t want this money lechatchila, you know. They just have no choice. I know whereof I speak. I have worked for a well-known yeshiva for 35 years and have seen the “baalei batim” giving less and less and spending more and more on themselves. So don’t crticize before you know what you’re talking about.