Here’s an interesting idea from PJMedia scribe and fellow Colorado blogger Stephen Green: Welcome to the Welfare Store. Excerpt:
Is there a way then to help the needy without enriching strippers, pot dealers, liquor stores, and under-the-table facilitators?
Yes there is.
Eliminate cash benefits. Period.
If we must have a federal-level welfare program to feed and clothe the hungry, the worst way to do it is by giving away free cash money.
How about this instead.
Washington could block-grant the money to states, based on population size and poverty rate. The states (or localities) in turn would operate Welfare Stores, where the needy could buy food and clothes at heavily subsidized prices. Welfare benefits would be paid out with little more than pocket change, which would be exchanged at local Welfare Stores for the goods which our neediest really need.
The food would be simple, hearty, wholesome — and unprepared. No bags of Cheetos, no candy bars, no liquor. Just milk, ground beef, whole chickens, eggs, butter, peanut butter, jelly, bread, flour, fresh fruits & veggies, and any other staples I’ve left out. The clothes would be basic, too. No designer labels, no high fashion. Just decent clothes, made to last.
Everything anybody needed to feed and clothe themselves and their kids, and nothing else, at prices so low you couldn’t even tip a Tuesday afternoon-shift stripper for the same amount of cash it would take to fill your grocery cart with a week’s worth of staples.
I like the gist of this, but would make a few changes; first, instead of having the Imperial City gather money and block-grant it to the states, why not just leave the Imperial Federal government out of it altogether and have the several states administer this? Second – even without this, it would seem to be trivially easy to just turn off the ability to withdraw cash with an EBT card. That would solve a great deal of the abuse of these systems.
But I still like the approach defined in my Manifesto better. Coupons for fixed amounts of fixed commodities; bulk rice, bulk beans, lean ground turkey and so on. Large, paper coupons, clearly marked “Government Assistance Food Voucher.” Yes, I think there should be some stigma attached; that incentivizes people to get off public assistance. Potential for fraud approaches zero.
Some hand-wringers will complain, “but Animal, you can’t tell poor people what they can and can’t eat!” My reply: “If I’m paying for it, I damn well can.” And since my (and your) tax dollars are paying for this, yes, we damn well can – and should.
The incentives in our welfare system all run in exactly the wrong direction. That must change.