Author Topic: Free money might be the best way to end poverty.  (Read 314 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Rapunzel

  • Hero Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 71,719
Free money might be the best way to end poverty.
« on: December 30, 2013, 12:52:20 PM »
http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/free-money-might-be-the-best-way-to-end-poverty/2013/12/29/679c8344-5ec8-11e3-95c2-13623eb2b0e1_story.html

Free money might be the best way to end poverty.


By Rutger Bregman, Published: December 29

Rutger Bregman is a reporter with the Dutch-language online outlet De Correspondent, where a longer version of this piece can be found. He is on Twitter: @rcbregman.

In May 2009, a small experiment involving 13 homeless men took off in London. Some of them had slept in the cold for more than 40 years. The presence of these street veterans was far from cheap. Police, legal services, health care: Each cost taxpayers thousands of pounds every year.

That spring, a local charity decided to make the street veterans — sometimes called rough sleepers — the beneficiaries of an innovative social experiment. No more food stamps, food-kitchen dinners or sporadic shelter stays. The 13 would get a drastic bailout, financed by taxpayers. Each would receive 3,000 pounds (about $4,500), in cash, with no strings attached. The men were free to decide what to spend it on.
Click here to subscribe.

The only question they had to answer: What do you think is good for you?

“I didn’t have enormous expectations,” an aid worker recalled a year later. Yet the homeless men’s desires turned out to be quite modest. A phone, a passport, a dictionary — each participant had ideas about what would be best for him. None of the men wasted his money on alcohol, drugs or gambling. A year later, 11 of the 13 had roofs over their heads. (Some went to hostels; others to shelters.) They enrolled in classes, learned how to cook, got treatment for drug abuse and made plans for the future. After decades of authorities’ fruitless pushing, pulling, fines and persecution, 11 vagrants moved off the streets.

The cost? About 50,000 pounds, including the wages of the aid workers. In addition to giving 11 individuals another shot at life, the project had saved money by a factor of multiples. Even The Economist concluded: “The most efficient way to spend money on the homeless might be to give it to them.”

What if this pilot program has broader implications? Societies tend to presume that poor people are unable to handle money. If they had any, people reason, the poor and homeless would probably spend it on fast food and cheap beer, not on fruit or education. This kind of reasoning nourishes the myriad ingenious social programs, administrative jungles, armies of program coordinators and legions of supervising staff that make up the modern welfare state.

We like to think that people have to work for their money. In recent decades, social welfare has become geared toward a labor market that does not create enough jobs. The trend from “welfare” to “workfare” is international, with obligatory job applications, reintegration trajectories, mandatory participation in “voluntary” work. The underlying message: Free money makes people lazy.

Except that it doesn’t.

In recent years, numerous studies of development aid have found impressive correlations between free money and reductions in crime, inequality, malnutrition, infant mortality, teenage pregnancy rates and truancy. It is also correlated with better school completion rates, higher economic growth and improvement in the condition of women.“The big reason poor people are poor is because they don’t have enough money,” economist Charles Kenny, a fellow at the Center for Global Development, wrote in June. “It shouldn’t come as a huge surprise that giving them money is a great way to reduce that problem.”

In the 2010 report “Just Give Money to the Poor,” researchers from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development give numerous examples of money being scattered successfully. In Namibia, malnourishment, crime and truancy fell 25 percent, 42 percent and nearly 40 percent, respectively, after grants were given. In Malawi, school enrollment of girls and women rose 40 percent in settings where money was given with or without conditions on its use . From Brazil to India and from Mexico to South Africa, free-money programs have flourished in the past decade. More than 110 million families in at least 45 countries benefit from them.

It is time to apply these lessons to rich but increasingly unequal societies. A world where wages no longer rise still needs consumers. Middle-class purchasing power has been maintained through loans, loans and more loans. The Calvinistic reflex that you have to work for your money has turned into a license for inequality.

Legend has it that while Henry Ford II was giving a tour around a new, highly automated factory to union leader Walter Reuther in the 1960s, Ford joked: “Walter, how are you going to get those robots to pay your union dues?”

Reuther is said to have replied: “Henry, how are you going to get them to buy your cars?”

No one is suggesting societies the world over should implement an expensive basic income system in one stroke. Each utopia needs to start small, with experiments that slowly turn our world upside down — like the one four-plus years ago in London. One of the aid workers later recalled: “It’s quite hard to just change overnight the way you’ve always approached this problem. These pilots give us the opportunity to talk differently, think differently, describe the problem differently.”

That is how all progress begins.
“The time is now near at hand which must probably determine, whether Americans are to be, Freemen, or Slaves.” G Washington July 2, 1776

Offline AbaraXas

  • Не русский хакер
  • Social Media Advisor
  • Hero Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 11,853
  • Words full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.
Re: Free money might be the best way to end poverty.
« Reply #1 on: December 30, 2013, 12:56:09 PM »
Slow creep towards the GMI (Guaranteed Minimum Income). Giving every citizen a minimum income to replace welfare programs. It is like a citizenship dividend.  Switzerland has been trying to get this and even some Conservatives and Libertarians have supported this.

It is one of the most deceptive programs one could ever contrive. It makes every citizen in the country a dependent of the government. It strips the last bastion of individuals who don't want to be dependent on the system.

The idea described with the homeless is great if done privately. But I see this as a creeping step towards a new national welfare paradigm.

Offline Rapunzel

  • Hero Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 71,719
Re: Free money might be the best way to end poverty.
« Reply #2 on: December 30, 2013, 01:03:32 PM »
Slow creep towards the GMI (Guaranteed Minimum Income). Giving every citizen a minimum income to replace welfare programs. It is like a citizenship dividend.  Switzerland has been trying to get this and even some Conservatives and Libertarians have supported this.

It is one of the most deceptive programs one could ever contrive. It makes every citizen in the country a dependent of the government. It strips the last bastion of individuals who don't want to be dependent on the system.

The idea described with the homeless is great if done privately. But I see this as a creeping step towards a new national welfare paradigm.

I hardly recognize this country now..... and ideas like this make me shake my head...
“The time is now near at hand which must probably determine, whether Americans are to be, Freemen, or Slaves.” G Washington July 2, 1776

Offline AbaraXas

  • Не русский хакер
  • Social Media Advisor
  • Hero Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 11,853
  • Words full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.
Re: Free money might be the best way to end poverty.
« Reply #3 on: December 30, 2013, 01:10:18 PM »
I hardly recognize this country now..... and ideas like this make me shake my head...

This is actually a very old idea. I've traced it back to at least the 20s. It was proposed as a nuvo-socialist alternative to Communism (but still Collectivism).  Heinlein wrote two novels addressing both the good and bad aspects of this. "For Us the Living" which explores the utopian view of this and "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" which ugly consequence of society after this. (the former is far more overt in the philosophy of the GMI, the latter makes sense when read in context of his other novels).

If you've ever studied the full Cloward-Piven strategy, not just the destabilizing aspects most people talk about, it is their stated end goal. Traditional Socialism and Communism they said would fail and so they promoted this alternative Socialistic approach.

Offline Oceander

  • Technical
  • Hero Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 45,534
  • #ToldYouSo
Re: Free money might be the best way to end poverty.
« Reply #4 on: December 30, 2013, 01:12:21 PM »
The rampant selection bias in these so-called "studies" is grotesque.  For example, with the initial anecdote about the 13 - who picked them, what criteria were used, and how much screening did they go through?  It's easy enough to select a handful of homeless who, with a leg up, will keep themselves off the streets; if you select enough with a sufficiently randomized choosing method, it won't work nearly so neatly.  Just ask those families that have struggled to support a fallen family member - drug use, alcohol use, abuse, whatever - who never, ever seems to quite manage to get themselves together, no matter how much "free money" the family "scatters" or showers on that member.

Offline truth_seeker

  • Hero Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 18,042
  • Common Sense Results Oriented Conservative Veteran
    • The place where argument addicts can go
Re: Free money might be the best way to end poverty.
« Reply #5 on: December 30, 2013, 01:31:58 PM »
Slow creep towards the GMI (Guaranteed Minimum Income). Giving every citizen a minimum income to replace welfare programs. It is like a citizenship dividend.  Switzerland has been trying to get this and even some Conservatives and Libertarians have supported this.

It is one of the most deceptive programs one could ever contrive. It makes every citizen in the country a dependent of the government. It strips the last bastion of individuals who don't want to be dependent on the system.

The idea described with the homeless is great if done privately. But I see this as a creeping step towards a new national welfare paradigm.
The same general approach is recommended by the co-author of "The Bell Curve," Charles Murray.

One might describe this as "compassionate libertarianism" whereby failed programs of permanent welfarism and dependency are replaced with stipends, which individuals use as they wish.

A lot of costly programs are eliminated.

How has the War on Poverty really turned out? How about The War on Drugs? They seem like huge, permanent government employment schemes, that never solve what they started for, cost a fortune, create permanent dependency, etc.




Offline Cincinnatus

  • Hero Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 5,514
Re: Free money might be the best way to end poverty.
« Reply #6 on: December 30, 2013, 01:56:33 PM »
Not likely to happen in this country. Rush has pointed out several times how Liberals are mostly interested in perpetuating the "homeless problem", not solving it (just as they perpetuate racial division).

The "homeless" provide Liberals with a ready made avenue to demonstrate (show? lol) their "compassion" by demanding government programs to help the less fortunate; they use the "homeless problem" when needed to bash Republicans for their heartlessness (note how all the constant stories about the "homeless" problem under Bush have completely disappeared under Obama); and, the "problem" provides oodles of bureaucrats employment and Congresscritters ample opportunity to spend more and more money (on a "problem" that is somehow never resolved).

New shopping carts, anyone?
We shall never be abandoned by Heaven while we act worthy of its aid ~~ Samuel Adams


Share me

Digg  Facebook  SlashDot  Delicious  Technorati  Twitter  Google  Yahoo
Smf