Massachusetts bureaucracy gets 1 in 13 households to come in and beg

“Many In Mass. Await The Next Blizzard With No Heat” is supposed to be a heartstrings-pulling story about how the government isn’t doing enough to help poorer families in Massachusetts pay for heat. What struck me is how many people had to jump through an extra welfare hoop. The article says “Roughly 200,000 households in Massachusetts qualify for help”. Census data show only about 2.5 million households in the state total. Thus 1 in 13 Massachusetts households has to apply every year to a government-paid worker who will decide whether or not to give them some cash. Note that these workers are different from the ones who decide whether or not to give out food stamps, so if you want food and heat you have to visit at least two offices. And those workers are different from the ones who decide whether or not to give out a free or subsidized house. There will be a separate process, with additional government-paid workers, to get free health insurance. And then there is a separate group of government workers who hand out unrestricted (TANF) cash…

Just how many government workers can a poor American support?

6 thoughts on “Massachusetts bureaucracy gets 1 in 13 households to come in and beg

  1. According to this WSJ article

    NYC spends more than a billion dollars a year taking care of about 53K homeless people every night. It can be assumed that many, if not most of the homeless in NYC receive other types of public assistance. This is a quote from the article:

    “People should be astonished by the amount of money that is being spent and apparently to little avail,” said Martin Oesterreich, a homeless services commissioner for Mayor Rudy Giuliani , a Republican. Mr. Oesterreich’s budget was in the $400-million range when he left office in 2001. “Somebody’s got to get a hold of it.”

    So, poor people do support lots of economic activity (that may not be of much benefit to them…)

  2. It occurs to me that you don’t want to make it TOO convenient to get free money from the government. It’s probably just as well that they make you jump thru a lot of bureaucratic hoops. This may also cut down on fraud, in that people who actually have jobs don’t have time to spend waiting in line in all those benefits offices.

  3. As the saying goes “You can pay the bill in different ways, but you can’t escape it.”

    “One of the problems that Greece has had since the 1980s is a culture of “clientelism” (where the ruling party props up its share of the vote by making its supporters reliant on state largess) driven by the rise of the populist Pan-Hellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) party. This has led to a bloated and inefficient public sector prone to unnecessary bureaucracy and corruption.”

    Varoufakis is an interesting man

    What if everybody got free cash? Some researchers did an experiment and got some surprsing results. It’s a video. But worthwhile.

    “Beleaguered and debt-wracked Cyprus is weighing the implementation of basic incomes, too. They even are whispered about in the United States, where certain wonks on the libertarian right and liberal left have come to a strange convergence around the idea — some prefer an unconditional “basic” income that would go out to everyone, no strings attached; others a means-tested “minimum” income to supplement the earnings of the poor up to a given level.”

  4. There’s a fresh article at
    “Those on the left tend to like it because it’s egalitarian. It helps give everyone an equal (or more equal) shot at success in our capitalist society. Some libertarians and right-wingers support the concept, meanwhile, because they see it as a way to whittle away at government bureaucracy. Some would have the basic income replace many existing social safety net programs. There’s also a conservative philosophy underlying all of this: Give people money and they, not the government, know best how to spend it. They know what they need. The feds do not.”

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