More Conservative Ersatz Poverty Wars

One of the things conservatives are never called on is their predilection for creating large, inefficient bureaucracies. This stems from their unwillingness or inability to directly cut the social safety net, so what they do instead is create ‘morals-based’ testing schemes, such as personalized contracts (that require enforcement) and drug-testing requirements, which supposedly make it more difficult and unpleasant to receive this aid (actually, there’s nothing supposed about the unpleasantness).

With that as prelude, we bring you to the Great State of Arizona (boldface mine):

The Republican romance with legislation meant to complicate the process of delivering aid to low-income residents or, as critics argue, defame and shame them, can be traced back to 2009. In November of that year, newly arrived GOP Gov. Jan Brewer of Arizona announced that the cash-strapped state would begin testing adults if the state had “reasonable cause” to believe they were getting high.

“We don’t want people who are abusing drugs to be on welfare,” GOP state Rep. John Kavanagh told the Arizona Republic in 2009,“because that means that the taxpayers are subsidizing and facilitating illegal drug use.”

But an examination of Arizona’s experiment reveals a flawed policy that has failed to accomplish its stated goal of saving the state money, and has instead done little more than further stigmatize poverty and marginalize the poor.

The results are thin: According to USA Today, more than 87,000 welfare recipients went through Arizona’s program in the three years after it began. The total number of drug cheats caught was exactly one — a single positive result, which saved the state precisely $560.

This is really incompetent. When you think about the costs of the tests, the reporting infrastructure, and so forth, this is a complete waste of money–by those who style themselves to be ‘fiscally responsible.’ Of course, fiscal responsibility and good public policy really aren’t the goals:

Leaving ideology and philosophy of governing aside, these are stupid, cumbersome, and expensive add-ons. The confusion and delays these add-ons cause won’t help the delivery of services. If the primary goal were truly to help people, no one in his right would build programs like this. On the other hand, if one were trying to limit access by undesirables to these programs without explicitly doing so, this is exactly how one would design such a system.

These monitoring systems also offer opportunities for privatization contracts.

Never mind. Mission accomplished.

It’s a con in so many ways.

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1 Response to More Conservative Ersatz Poverty Wars

  1. jrkrideau says:

    Does the US Republican Party require standardized test scores for selecting their political candidates? WAIS-R less than 70, S.A.T <= 620? I mean the cut-off must be fairly stringent. You don't get that level of stupid not to mention pious hypocrisy easily.

    I would have thought that a major reason for many people requiring welfare would have been drug dependencies. Maybe welfare would help them stabilize their life enough to get help with other problems.?

    Gee, maybe like this?
    " … providing prompt, permanent shelter to the city's homeless is cheaper and more effective than trying to treat underlying conditions such as mental health or addictions first."

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