A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

Recent entries:
“After winning, I threw the ball into the crowd. Apparently, that’s unacceptable in bowling” (5/23)
“She made French toast and got her tongue caught in the toaster” (5/22)
“The universe is made of protons, neutrons, electrons and morons” (5/22)
“The job requires me to get a potato clock” (get up at eight o’clock) (5/22)
Entry forthcoming—B.P. (5/22)
More new entries...

A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z


Entry from December 04, 2008
Poverty Pimp (Povitician)

"Poverty pimp” is a term dating from at least 1970 to describe a person who claims to help people in poverty, but who actually helps himself or herself in the process. Often, a government program or private charity to combat poverty is involved. Ed Koch attacked the “poverty pimps” in his successful campaign for mayor in 1977.

Mayor Ed Koch also used the word “povitician” ("poverty" + “politician"), but that term seems not to have survived.


Wikipedia: Poverty pimp
Poverty pimp or “professional poverty pimp” is a sarcastic label used to convey the opinion that an individual or group is benefiting unduly by acting as an intermediary on behalf of the poor, the disadvantaged or other some other “victimized” groups.

Those who use this appellation suggest that those so labeled profit unduly from the misfortune of others, and therefore do not really wish the societal problems that they appear to work on so assiduously be eliminated permanently, as it is not in their own interest for this to happen.

The most frequent targets of this accusation are those receiving government funding or that solicit private charity to work on issues on behalf of various disadvantaged individuals or groups, but who never seem to be able to show any amelioration of the problems experienced by their target population. Some even suggest that that if profit was eliminated as a factor, greater steps in the alleviation of the oppressive situations could begin to truly occur.

Usage example
“Scoggins’s experiences with government intervention confirmed his political heritage. At age ten, he had helped his family campaign for Eisenhower in the 1956 election, carrying the basket from which they sold chicken sandwiches up and down Tulsa’s historic black business district. “You had every last thing you wanted there. Welfare was not even thought of,” Scoggins says. Businessmen represented the black community, not a “bunch of ministers or poverty pimps, like today,” Scoggins recalls.”

“During one particularly heated moment, Rep. Joe Baca called Wal-Mart executives ‘poverty pimps,’ arguing that they exploited the Hispanic community, then tried to make up for it by contributing to Latino organizations, according to a House Democratic aide with ties to the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.”

Urban Dictionary
poverty pimp
Any self appointed minority leader, who extols the perpetual poorness of their ethnicity, yet is quite well off stemming from their efforts. Usually a Reverend of some unknown church. Marches at the drop of a hat to mug for the cameras.
Uses White guilt to gain credibilty, money, and influence.
Are usually racists themselves.
Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton are flaming Poverty Pimps.
by J Sin Jun 22, 2006

Google Books
The Black Panthers Speak:
As Revealed in Slave Narratives of the Pre-Civil War Period, 1840-1860

Compiled by Philip Sheldon Foner
Published by Lippincott
1970
Pg. 237:
They are paid by the system to lead our people down blind alleys, just like the thousands of poverty pimps who keep our communities peaceful for business…

Google Books
Palante: Young Lords Party
By Young Lords Party
Illustrated by Michael Abramson
New York, NY: McGraw-Hill
1971
Pg. 77:
In this case, we weren’t working with the poverty pimps. This was coming from the people, and the poverty pimps are far removed from the people.

7 January 1972, New York (NY) Times, “Gibson Assails City Council in Newark” by Joseph F. Sullivan, pg. 10:
Councilman (Sharpe—ed.) James called Mr. Jackson (Ira Jackson, an $8,000 aide to Newark Mayor Gibson—ed.) a “poverty pimp—someone who jumps from one poverty program to another trying to take care of himself.”

19 January 1978, New York (NY) Times, “Koch Suspends 2 Antipoverty Pacts” by Charles Kaier, pg. B10:
Mr. Koch’s distaste for what he called “poverty pimps” was a major theme of his campaign for Mayor and he repeatedly pledged to deny funds to any program that was “ripping off” the public.

New York (NY) Times
Ramon S. Velez, the South Bronx Padrino, Dies at 75
By DOUGLAS MARTIN
Published: December 2, 2008
Ramon S. Velez, who was the son of a poor Puerto Rican farmer and became the baron of a sweeping array of poverty programs in the South Bronx, receiving high praise for registering hundreds of thousands of Hispanic voters and stinging criticism for profiting from his humanitarian initiatives, died on Sunday in Manhattan. He was 75.
(...)
“He was El Jefe,” former Mayor Edward I. Koch said in an interview on Tuesday. The words are Spanish for “the Boss.” He said Mr. Velez had supplied services of great benefit to the Hispanic community.

Henry J. Stern, now the president of New York Civic, a watchdog group, served with Mr. Velez on the City Council, and in an interview recalled him as a large man who radiated “a sense of power.” He was “the emperor of the South Bronx,” Mr. Stern said.

Mr. Velez’s power derived from the $300 million in government funds that his organization attracted during a quarter of a century. With hundreds of employees, and thousands of patients and clients, he had a ready-made campaign machine, used by Democrats and Republicans alike.

Some of the money, without question, flowed into Mr. Velez’s own pocket, at least through suppliers he set up, and this penchant for establishing private corporations to do business with his public endeavors raised many questions. Investigators combed through his financial dealings for decades, but no charges were ever brought against him.

For a time, Mr. Koch would say that Mr. Velez epitomized the abuse of Great Society poverty programs, calling him a “poverty pimp” and a “povitician,” but he eventually warmed to him.

“I ascertained he was wrongly accused,” Mr. Koch said on Tuesday. 

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityWorkers/People • (0) Comments • Thursday, December 04, 2008 • Permalink