If you can guess the deeper interconnexion here, reader,
you're probably smarter than most.


17h51 UTC; FRIDAY, 25 JULY 2014: Congress' single greatest epistle of John Galt, in the person of Rep. Paul Ryan (GOP/WI), has now come forth with his much-anticipated approach to reinventing social welfare whose grater aim is one of Reclaiming a Renewed Healthy Respect for Industry, Self-Reliance and Personal Responsibility in the Chronically- and Habitually-Dependent Upon the State, thereby Generating Taxpayer Value in the process--in theory, mind you.

Which basically calls for "block-granting" the several Federal welfare initiatives to the several States, as would be expected to themselves issue grants to private-sector groups as would (again, in theory) be best suited to saving the poor from themselves consistent with local experience, conditions and heritage. But, as Think Progress points out, the devil is in the details:
The underlying thesis is that those who are closest to actual poor people will be best able to figure out how to help them. But Ryan fails to take this idea to its end conclusion: that poor people themselves, being the closest to their own situations, are the most knowledgable about what they need to improve their lives. Instead, his proposal calls for low-income people to meet with providers to create a “customized life plan,” a contract that includes goals and benchmarks, as well as penalties for missing any steps.

In describing what this would look like, Ryan outlines the minimum requirements:
  • A contract outlining specific and measurable benchmarks for success
  • A timeline for meeting these benchmarks
  • Sanctions for breaking the terms of the contract
  • Incentives for exceeding the terms of the contract
  • Time limits for remaining on cash assistance
  • There would be bonuses for people who meet their goals ahead of time, such as finding a job before the time allotted, although the bonus wouldn’t likely come in the form of cash but in something like a savings bond. But if they miss those goals — say, in the current American economy where there are more than two job seekers for every opening, they struggle to find a job in that time period — the poor person would face consequences, “most likely immediate sanctions and a reduction in benefits,” Ryan writes.
    In short, essentially putting the poor unto a "performance contract" with the State, which could raise 13th Amendment questions vis-a-vis peonage, and calls to mind provisions of the Fugitive Slave Act 1850 as required people to be on a "watch-and-ward" for runaway slaves and to deal with them By Any Means Necessary to permit safe return to their masters.

    On the other hand, Think Progress points out that a much more cost-efficient option to "helping the poor to help themselves" would be to issue direct cash grants to the poor and see if such would better motivate and empower the poor to help themselves:
    ...While it may sound radical, there have been experiments that have done just this and found positive results.

    In Uganda, the government gave about a year’s worth of income, or about $380, to a group of applicants, and denied it to the other half. There were no conditions on the money, but those who got it invested most of it in “skills and business assets,” ending up 65 percent more likely to practice a skilled trade. Recipients worked an average 17 hours more than those without the money. And compared to the group that didn’t get the cash, those who did saw a 49 percent increase in earnings two years later and a 41 percent increase four years out, indicating that the effects last.

    A similar study in Kenya found that after poor families in rural Kenya were given an average of $513 by an NGO, their assets and holdings were 58 percent higher than a control group a year later, incomes were 33 percent higher, hunger was significantly reduced, and their psychological wellbeing increased.

    Similar programs in South Africa, Mexico, and Liberia have all found similar results.

    Just because these programs have proven positive in other countries may not mean they work here, of course. But there have been some experiments in the United States. A natural one occurred when the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians in North Carolina opened a casino in 1996 and decided to distribute some of the profits equally to its members. Beforehand, about a fifth lived in poverty, but five years later, when members were getting $6,000 per person a year, the number of people below the poverty line was cut in half. Children’s behavioral problems declined, as did minor crimes, and graduation rates improved.
    Still, though, the more hard-wired brand of conservative Zealot and True Believer, seeing the Lower Classes as being beyond any help, be it from the State or charity, because of "moral error and weakness" and "lack of healthy spiritual and moral guidance," would prefer as their ideal mass movements modelled on the Reddingsdaadbond movement down South Africa way from 1939 until 1957 as sought to help Afrikaners of the lowest socioeconomic strata through the channelling of a supposed natural unity and identity (in the Afrikaans, Volkseenheid) unto a "spontaneous" popular campaign based on the concept of using Helpmekaar ("helping each other," i.e. through mutual aid) as an agent of a greater Reddingsdaad ("rescue deed") expected to replace "pious sentiment" towards the poor with "jingling coin" (as in wages, profit, savings and purchasing power).

    One tool in this effort was to be an Afrikaner-centrist investment house, Federale Volksbeleggings (FVB; "Federal People's Investments"), expected to be the financiers for the new "people-centred" Volkskapitalisme ("people's capitalism") as would create jobs and incomes for the Afrikaners based on the since-discredited notion that "like does best with like", in particular by buying up failing enterprises and restructuring such according to "Afrikaner principles" but also by making loans to viable Afrikaner business startups and encouraging investment by Afrikaners in Afrikaner enterprises (especially so after South African life insurer Sanlam, which managed the FVB on behalf of the Afrikaner Volk, created the Bonuskor investment fund in 1946 with an eye towards encouraging Sanlam policyholders to convert their policy bonus rights into unit-trust shares, theoretically "doing the Volk and Nation a favour" in the process). Volkskapitalisme, for its part, sought to rewrite the core rules of traditional free-market "economic freedom" by deemphasising simple wealth creation for the benefit of the few in favour of a new emphasis on jobs creation and training as would, in its turn, empower heretofore "poor whites" into a "natural right of dominance" over the economy for their greater collective benefit--which, as some historians have suggested, was closer to the core Afrikaner ideal of apartheid than brazen "in-your-face" racial segregation as widely believed; in fact, at least one Afrikaner Nationalist leader preferred the term "sovereignty within our own sphere" to describe the larger aim of apartheid from the Afrikaner standpoint, holding that the Afrikaner has a "natural right" to live exclusively among their own kind, use their own language (Afrikaans), trade among their own and support their own educational, cultural, spiritual and political institutions structured for their own benefit.

    The whole concept encapsulated in its motto, 'n volk red homself ("a people rescuing itself"), the rallying-cry of Boer War missionary Vader Johannes Kestel during the Tweede Trek's visit to Bloemfontein in August 1938 on its trek from Cape Town to Blood River and Pretoria.

    In any event, Your Correspondent would like to open some debate at this time on what you think would be the better option to saving the poor from themselves in the wake of the Ryan Ideal being released; hence, he'd appreciate your offering some comments in this respect.

    So till next time, folks: "73"
    (Which, incidentally, was railroad telegraphers' shorthand for "goodbye.")


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