A Novel Solution to the Great Risk Shift

I’m going to be writing about what can be done to counter the growing economic insecurity of American families later today. But I just discovered an idea I hadn’t thought of — on p. 18 of today’s Times.

Just Asking to Be Caught, Thief Solves Joblessness

October 13, 2006

COLUMBUS, Ohio, Oct. 12 (AP) ? A man who could not find steady work came up with a plan to make it through the next few years until he could collect Social Security: He robbed a bank, handed the money to a guard and waited for the police.

On Wednesday, the man, Timothy J. Bowers, told a judge that a three-year prison sentence would suit him, and the judge obliged.

?At my age, the jobs available to me are minimum-wage jobs,? Mr. Bowers, who will turn 63 in a few weeks, told the judge, Angela White. ?There is age discrimination out there.?

Judge White told him: ?It?s unfortunate you feel this is the only way to deal with the situation.?

Mr. Bowers said he had been able to find only odd jobs after the drug wholesaler for which he made deliveries closed in 2003. He walked to a bank and handed a teller a note demanding cash in an envelope. The teller gave him four $20 bills and pushed a silent alarm.

Mr. Bowers handed the money to a security guard standing in the lobby and told him it was his day to be a hero.

He pleaded guilty to robbery, and a court-ordered psychological exam found him competent.

The Columbus Dispatch reported that before the robbery, Mr. Bowers had handed his landlady the keys to his apartment, his mailbox and the laundry room and told her he would probably not be back.

?It?s a pretty sad story when someone feels that?s their only alternative,? said Jeremy W. Dodgion, a defense lawyer, who described Mr. Bowers as ?a charming old man.?

Prosecutors had considered arguing against putting Mr. Bowers in prison at taxpayer expense, but they worried he would do something more reckless to be put behind bars.

?It?s not the financial plan I would choose, but it?s a financial plan,? the prosecutor, Dan Cable, said.

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