Thursday, June 21, 2007

Bribing The Poor - In NYC Bloomberg Will Pay You For Good Behavior

In New York , poor residents will be rewarded for good behavior.

Imagine getting paid $300 if your child does well on school tests, or getting $150 for holding a job or $200 for visiting the doctor. Estimates are that the poor can rack up about $6,000 a year just for "doing all the right things".

It's all part of an experimental anti-poverty program that was unveiled by NY City officials. They say these types of rewards to change the behaviors of the poor, have been used successfully in other countries, including Brazil and Mexico. NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg even traveled to Mexico to study these healthy lifestyle payments, also known as "conditional cash transfers".

In New York, this two-year pilot program encompassing about 14,000 participants, will use private funds that Bloomberg raised. Apparently he did not want to spend government money on something that is highly experimental.
(Whew .. that's a relief!)
More than $43 million has been raised toward the $53 million goal.
Just think, if the plan works .. they will undoubtedly expand it and actually use real tax money to fund it!

The theory behind these cash rewards is that poor people are trapped in a cycle of repeated setbacks that keep them from climbing out of poverty. So a person who doesn't keep up with his vaccinations and doctor's visits, for example, may get sick more often and struggle to stay employed. You know, like regular people... (eye roll)

Some examples of the bribes... uh... "conditional cash transfers" are:
$25 for attending parent-teacher conferences
$25 per month for a child who maintains a 95 percent school attendance record
$400 for graduating high school
$100 for each family member who sees the dentist every six months
$150 a month for adults who work full time.

Of course the government wants to make sure you handle that money properly so they are also providing that the money is deposited directly into their bank accounts. If they don't have accounts, they can get cards that are like debit cards but cannot be overdrawn.

Additionally, the city is asking the federal government to excuse the bribes... uh I mean ...payments from being taxed.

Thank goodness they are providing a "control group' with this grand experiment...
To measure the effectiveness of these "rewards", control groups of similar size will not be paid but will be studied based on their responses to surveys. The control participants will receive small incentives, such as weekly MetroCards for paying bus and subway fares, for their time and trouble.

Seems to me this is sort of discriminatory.. I'd like to get paid for going to the dentist too. I could use an extra $6,000 (tax free!) a year for doing all the things I normally do anyway, and I can easily stop doing them so that the government can bribe me into doing them.

Isn't it a shame that in our society people have to be bribed into responsible behavior? What does that say about us? What does that say about what we allow the government to do to us?

Bribery and coercion... yup... that seems like a typical government program.

The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public's money. - Alexis de Tocqueville