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My Welfare Reform

Khaos_Mage
Posts: 23,214
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3/10/2014 3:03:08 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
This is my idea to reform welfare, it is quite radical, but I think fair to all, and a better use of resources. The overall premise is that welfare should provide for sustenance, but be unpleasant enough to eliminate fraud and increase desire to live away from the system, as well as making it easier to do so.

1. Eliminate all section 8 vouchers and other housing assistance. Eliminate all low income housing developments, mandates, and contracts. This will be replaced with large apartment buildings, built on the bus line and near grocery stores, banks, etc.

Each unit will be two bedrooms and furnished with beds, kitchen table, chairs, dishes, and couch.
Each unit will receive one bass pass.
Each building will have assembly areas.

2. Replace all food stamps and WIC with actual food that is to be picked up at a central location. The amount/type of food will take into account religion, allergies, and number of people in household. The food will be delievered to the residences of the apartment buildings. Anyone who receives food stamps and not housing currently, can pick up their food on a weekly basis. Each apartment building is a hub.

Otherwise, replace food stamps with vouchers for food, similar to WIC. This ensures nutrition and are harder to transfer. You are given vouchers to last 3-6 months.

3. There will be police permanently on the premises. They have free reign in the halls, and upon probable cause, can enter the unit. They will be first responders to issues that arise (domestic violence, noise complaints, etc.). This should ensure safety and compliance.

4. Any social workers will be stationed on the premises. This is less travel for everyone involved. Further, they will offer classes in the assembly areas open to residents and the public. These classes can range to self-esteem (battered women empowerment), how to balance a checkbook, ESL, parenting tips, how to save money, interviewing skills, anger management, etc.

5. The salaries for maintenence , building manager, and supplied items like bedding/dishes will be through rent. The rent is means-tested. Section 8 runs on a similar "pay what you can" model, so the rent paid, which in the building I was living in at the time, was an average of $150/month. Ideally, the upkeep costs of the building will be self-sustaining.

6. Welfare, as I have been told, is hard to get off, since as you make more, you immediately lose help, thus it can be a vicious cycle. I propose that leases in these buildings are extended to six or 12 months, so a family can save money while still on welfare. This should help break the cycle of perpetual welfare.

7. The building will provide child care services, so the parents don't have to pay child care costs. These services can be contracted out, so it is not "indoctrination", and since it is on premises, the cost associated with it should be a fraction of what it would be in the private sector. This enables parents to save money if they are working.

This plan will reduce costs tremendously, especially in section 8 housing costs, and should pay for these buildings in a decade or two. This also reduces artificial demand for apartments, thus may lower rent where low-income housing is offered.

Costs are reduced due to streamlined services, largely in real estate.
The only added cost is providing/packaging food for families, but this is way better, as it is more difficult to commit fraud, and it ensures nutritious meals.

Thoughts?
I doubt this would ever happen, but it seems the most prudent use of capital: human capital, tax revenue, and natural resources.
My work here is, finally, done.
Khaos_Mage
Posts: 23,214
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3/10/2014 3:10:49 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
When I did this project, in my apartment building, 20% of the units were low-income. The rent due was about $950 (while non-low income paid $1250), and the average payment due by the tenant (i.e. not government) was $150. That is $800/month for some 40 units in government payments to house 40 some families. That's $384, 000 every year. That could instead, be one floor.

Obviously, there are other less expensive buildings people lived at, too.
Regardless, these costs are completely eliminated, after the initial millions for construction.
My work here is, finally, done.
drhead
Posts: 1,475
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3/10/2014 5:24:14 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
A few issues:

- How do you plan to account for larger families living in the housing?
- What about personal preference in food choice? People might prefer to have certain types of food over other, and it's probably best to ensure there is little waste.
- How would you go about implementing it? What properties would have to be demolished to make room for these apartments?
- When I showed this to a friend, he expressed deep concern, calling it at first "communism" and then "extreme socialism" when I corrected him on what is and isn't communism. He then called it "prison by another name", citing concerns over the lack of choice over where to live. How would you address these criticisms? (and by criticisms I mostly mean what I think are poorly thought out analogies, but either label works)

I generally think it has potential if it is implemented properly. I didn't have much to say until my friend critiqued it for me, but I still don't see much wrong with it if it is given some refinement and proper implementation.
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monty1
Posts: 1,084
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3/10/2014 5:28:38 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 3/10/2014 3:10:49 PM, Khaos_Mage wrote:
When I did this project, in my apartment building, 20% of the units were low-income. The rent due was about $950 (while non-low income paid $1250), and the average payment due by the tenant (i.e. not government) was $150. That is $800/month for some 40 units in government payments to house 40 some families. That's $384, 000 every year. That could instead, be one floor.

Obviously, there are other less expensive buildings people lived at, too.
Regardless, these costs are completely eliminated, after the initial millions for construction.

How will you punish the people who seel their food or otherwise don't confirm to your rules? forced sterilization?
PotBelliedGeek
Posts: 4,298
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3/10/2014 6:47:34 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
I understand where you are going with this, but this sound like a concentration camp for poor people.
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Khaos_Mage
Posts: 23,214
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3/11/2014 7:17:27 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 3/10/2014 6:47:34 PM, PotBelliedGeek wrote:
I understand where you are going with this, but this sound like a concentration camp for poor people.

That's a bit harsh, don't you think?
A fairer comparison would be either "the projects" or a minimum security prison, for those who oppose.

What is wrong with this, though?
You got the safety net, you got the same services already provided, and it costs less, has more benefit, and and more services.

No one is forcing you to go on welfare, and beggars can't be choosers. If this was a private charity (or good Samaritan), they would likely have rules attached, too.
The way I see it, if you want help from the state, you give up some liberty. This minimizes fraud, waste, and focuses on the truly humbled and needy.
My work here is, finally, done.
Khaos_Mage
Posts: 23,214
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3/11/2014 7:43:21 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 3/10/2014 5:24:14 PM, drhead wrote:
A few issues:

- How do you plan to account for larger families living in the housing?
I don't. This is designed to curb "welfare babies".
You have two bedrooms. Kids in one, parents in the other, or boys in one and girls in the other. If the tenant wishes, they can convert the living room into a third bedroom. The idea is not to reward people for having kids they cannot afford. (We both know there are two types of children in the welfare system, those that are there due to misfortune, and those that were borne to get a bigger check)

By the way, single tenants will be paired up.

- What about personal preference in food choice? People might prefer to have certain types of food over other, and it's probably best to ensure there is little waste.

Beggars can't be choosers.
Yes, food stamps allow freedom, and invites stupidity and/or luxury. By giving the food a la food shelf away, this ensures nutrition and savings for the state, since 1000 people buying tomatoes might cost 1000x, but buying 1000 tomatoes for 1000 people will likely cost less than 1000x.

Working at a grocery store, I saw plenty of EBT people spend their money poorly, or rather, make poor decisions. Isn't a concern of the poor is their lack of nutrition? This directly combats it, by giving fewer options, so the healthy food is eaten.
- How would you go about implementing it? What properties would have to be demolished to make room for these apartments?
Don't know.
We could start by converting existing government properties. In my state, the various counties own properties. These could be sold to purchase space.

- When I showed this to a friend, he expressed deep concern, calling it at first "communism" and then "extreme socialism" when I corrected him on what is and isn't communism. He then called it "prison by another name", citing concerns over the lack of choice over where to live. How would you address these criticisms? (and by criticisms I mostly mean what I think are poorly thought out analogies, but either label works)

It is nothing new, to be honest.
These programs already exists. I am simply streamlining them for maximum benefit to all: taxpayers, the non-welfare types, the state coffers, the poor.

Housing assistance currently exists. It still will.
Food assistance currently exists. It still will.
Child care assistance currently exists. It still will.
Nothing new.
However, my reform has the best chance to improve the lives of those on these assistances, plus it aims to break the systemic poverty issues, like offering real world education, like classes in budgeting, cooking, sewing, or self-defense.

I generally think it has potential if it is implemented properly. I didn't have much to say until my friend critiqued it for me, but I still don't see much wrong with it if it is given some refinement and proper implementation.
This is an odd statement.
Care to elaborate? Why didn't you have anything to say before?
(I know it is off topic)

And, thank you.
I am aware it is a radical change, but I think the discomfort is important. Allegedly Ben Franklin once quipped that the poor should be pushed out of poverty. In other words, put up a safety net that only the needy would accept, and they will do what they can to not lie there. Ideally, this will break the generational welfare problem.
My work here is, finally, done.
BigDave80
Posts: 105
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3/11/2014 2:25:22 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
I'd go in the opposite direction: turn all the welfare programs (food stamps, housing vouchers, traditional welfare, etc) into a simple, means tested cash transfer. There would be a work requirement as well and an increased subsidy for low income workers.

The key tenets here are encourage entry into employment and offering benefits in the simple (and more efficient) form of cash transfers as opposed to paternalistic "benefits".

I have to say that your plan, although interesting, seems like a recipe for a permanent underclass essentially living in a government camp, further segmenting the poor from the rest of society.

It doesn't foster the upwards mobility that is the only real cure to poverty. It actually stymies that.
Khaos_Mage
Posts: 23,214
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3/11/2014 2:42:06 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 3/11/2014 2:25:22 PM, BigDave80 wrote:
I'd go in the opposite direction: turn all the welfare programs (food stamps, housing vouchers, traditional welfare, etc) into a simple, means tested cash transfer. There would be a work requirement as well and an increased subsidy for low income workers.

The key tenets here are encourage entry into employment and offering benefits in the simple (and more efficient) form of cash transfers as opposed to paternalistic "benefits".
How does this not encourage employment?
If you don't want things provided for you with no choice (read: freedom), then you need income.
Giving straight cash makes the prospect more lucrative, and let's be honest, the poor are generally poor for a reason, and poor money management can definitely be one.

I have to say that your plan, although interesting, seems like a recipe for a permanent underclass essentially living in a government camp, further segmenting the poor from the rest of society.
How so, exactly?
If poverty is a systematic problem, this aims to fix it. No one is forced to live here. The only people who live here are those that are getting housing assistance in our current system. And, instead of going to the courthouse or where ever the social workers that meet with welfare recipients, they meet at these buildings.

This is no more on an underclass than the projects, but would be safer and offer education.

It doesn't foster the upwards mobility that is the only real cure to poverty. It actually stymies that.

I think you missed the part where it provides a safe place for transition from welfare to not-on-welfare. I don't see how cash does that on its own, nor in the current system.
My work here is, finally, done.
YYW
Posts: 36,286
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3/14/2014 4:31:14 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 3/10/2014 3:03:08 PM, Khaos_Mage wrote:
This is my idea to reform welfare, it is quite radical, but I think fair to all, and a better use of resources. The overall premise is that welfare should provide for sustenance, but be unpleasant enough to eliminate fraud and increase desire to live away from the system, as well as making it easier to do so.

1. Eliminate all section 8 vouchers and other housing assistance. Eliminate all low income housing developments, mandates, and contracts. This will be replaced with large apartment buildings, built on the bus line and near grocery stores, banks, etc.

So, that's been tried before and it did not end well. http://www.economist.com...

2. Replace all food stamps and WIC with actual food that is to be picked up at a central location.

There was a program in the 1960s and early 1970s that actually worked something like this. The US government paid US farmers to grow food to feed America's poor. It was a brilliant program that worked incredibly well for everyone involved until Reagan dismantled it, and most of the rest of what LBJ got right.

3. There will be police permanently on the premises.

Enforcement doesn't make people want to do the right thing, it only incentivizes them to try to avoid being caught doing bad things. The problem you need to correct is cultural, because it is the cause of the legal problem you're trying to solve.

4. Any social workers will be stationed on the premises. This is less travel for everyone involved. Further, they will offer classes in the assembly areas open to residents and the public. These classes can range to self-esteem (battered women empowerment), how to balance a checkbook, ESL, parenting tips, how to save money, interviewing skills, anger management, etc.

In principle, I agree with that.

5. The salaries for maintenence , building manager, and supplied items like bedding/dishes will be through rent. The rent is means-tested. Section 8 runs on a similar "pay what you can" model, so the rent paid, which in the building I was living in at the time, was an average of $150/month. Ideally, the upkeep costs of the building will be self-sustaining.

I like the idea of sustainable living.

6. Welfare, as I have been told, is hard to get off, since as you make more, you immediately lose help, thus it can be a vicious cycle. I propose that leases in these buildings are extended to six or 12 months, so a family can save money while still on welfare. This should help break the cycle of perpetual welfare.

I would personally rather just give people money and make them sign an oath swearing that they will improve their lives, and require them to hand write a method of action to do that.

7. The building will provide child care services, so the parents don't have to pay child care costs. These services can be contracted out, so it is not "indoctrination", and since it is on premises, the cost associated with it should be a fraction of what it would be in the private sector. This enables parents to save money if they are working.

I like it.

This plan will reduce costs tremendously, especially in section 8 housing costs, and should pay for these buildings in a decade or two. This also reduces artificial demand for apartments, thus may lower rent where low-income housing is offered.

Costs are reduced due to streamlined services, largely in real estate.
The only added cost is providing/packaging food for families, but this is way better, as it is more difficult to commit fraud, and it ensures nutritious meals.

Thoughts?
I doubt this would ever happen, but it seems the most prudent use of capital: human capital, tax revenue, and natural resources.
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