On the original Star Trek series, when Mr. Spock was confronted with a new and unexpected bit of information, he would raise one Vulcan eyebrow and intone “fascinating.”

I don’t have a Vulcan eyebrow, but “fascinating” was my reaction to a 2013 academic paper written by Johannas Haushofer and Jeremy Shapiro, with the not-very-sexy title “Household Response to Income Changes: Evidence from an Unconditional Cash Transfer Program in Kenya.”

Stop yawning, because this is important. And fascinating.

In the U.S., lawmakers (and not just right-wing ones) have long taken a punitive approach to the poor. Even self-labeled “compassionate conservatives” like former President George W. Bush have proposed programs that would “help welfare recipients develop middle-class values.” (Because clearly, if you are poor, you must be morally defective.)  American attitudes toward the needy have their roots in 15th Century English Poor Laws that prohibited “giving alms to the sturdy beggar.”

American social welfare programs built on that model have numerous, demeaning—and costly—restrictions on eligibility. After all, if “we” don’t watch “them,” they’ll cheat us hardworking taxpayers.

Most recently, a number of state legislators have piled on; convinced that any assistance allowing recipient discretion would “obviously’ lead to imprudent choices, they have even passed rules about what welfare recipients can buy at the grocery store with their food stamps.

Imagine what would happen if we simply sent poor people some cash! (Um…perhaps like Social Security…?)

Well, it turns out we don’t have to imagine it; an NGO called “GiveDirectly” has been doing just that in Kenya. GiveDirectly chooses beneficiaries at random; the only criteria is income below poverty level. The organization is rigorously evidence-based, and the paper I came across is one of several independent research projects examining the results.

So what happened?

Recipients spent more on health and education. Alcohol and tobacco expenditures did not increase. The researchers found

no evidence for an increase in tension within households, no significant spillover effects on non-recipient households, and no general equilibrium effects at the village level, with the single exception that we observe an increase in female empowerment at the village level. Together, these findings suggest that simple cash transfers may not have the perverse effects that some policymakers feel they would have, which has led for a clear policy preference for conditional cash transfers or in-kind transfers.

I came across this article because I have recently become aware of psychological studies connecting poverty with a host of deleterious psychological consequences, and I was exploring the literature reporting on those consequences for a book I’m writing. (I had previously understood the link between insecurities of various kinds and social unrest, but I was unaware of this particular line of research.)

As an article in New America Weekly reported, the human brain has specific reactions to any form of scarcity; it seems that cognitive capacity can only be stretched so far. This has been dubbed the “bandwidth tax,” shorthand for the proposition that scarcity inhibits the brain’s ability to focus on multiple tasks. This isn’t a big surprise to anyone who has agonized over whether to use her limited funds to buy baby formula or see the pediatrician.

Interestingly, the levels of stress associated with poverty can be assessed physically; people produce a “stress hormone” called cortisol, levels of which can be measured.

Haushofer and Shapiro measured them.

Transfer recipients experience large increases in psychological well-being, and several types of transfers lead to reductions in levels of the stress hormone cortisol.

Apparently, cash transfers to desperately poor people are followed by increased access to education and medical care, and lowered levels of a stress hormone that interferes with good decision-making.




60 thoughts on “Fascinating!

  1. Makes sense to me. Such a remedy for IN will be DOA at the super majority GOP Legislature. Won’t even make it to the desk of Christian Governor Pence.

  2. So what? Just write everyone who is poor a check and poverty is solved? No allowances for cultural differences. No impact from the work ethic that used to drive this economy. Ignore the adage, “if you want to feed people for a day, give them a fish, but if you want to feed them for a lifetime, teach them to fish.” Do we give up on the effort to instill pride in those who earn their way? The problem with our welfare system is much less about restrictions on how the money is spent and much ore about the disincentives to break free of dependence. Fix the parts that say “Get a job, lose some benefits! Marry your baby daddy, lose some benefits! The pride of increased self-sufficiency would go a long way toward solving poverty and collapsing families. Far more than the standard liberal mantra of “more money”!

  3. But the problem, Sheila, is that the GOP doesn’t WANT the poor to feel better! They want the poor to BE better! Be better people, be better ‘christians’, be better taxpayers, be better workers – especially better workers. They don’t care about the feels. And not so much about education or healthcare.

  4. Ken Glass, please explain these cultural differences of which you speak. I’m all ears.

  5. Ken Glass; Sheila’s past request that we speak our minds but remain civil prevents me from telling you what I see in your out-of-touch comments and your condescending GOP attitude.

    For all their overflowing coffers, the wealthy lawmakers and their financial supporters are morally bankrupt. My income is barely above the federal poverty level and I consider myself blessed – even though I am currently caught in a situation regarding my unsafe living conditions due to disabilities. I am aware that I can and do survive on my low level EARNED SOCIAL SECURITY AND PERF INCOME and recognize I could otherwise become one of the homeless.

    As has been pointed out before regarding public assistance such as food stamps, necessary items such as bath and laundry soaps, toilet paper, diapers and other personal care items are not covered. Even I take these items for granted at times; they are now luxury items to those living at poverty level. When the wealthy – and especially our law makers – look down on those who are not as clean or dressed in near rags, they seem to believe this is their chosen position in life.

    So, Ken Glass, when you see the mantra as “more money” hundreds of thousands in this country see it as “more toilet paper and bath soap, please”.

    “Interesting”; yes it is, but more interesting is how to get those looking down on many in need to see the problem as the daily survival reality it is. They saw the reality in Kenya; not a wealthy nation, but here the lawmakers are too busy controlling women’s medical care choices, the sex lives of specific groups of Americans, forcing their religious beliefs on all of us and which food products are purchased with food stamps.

  6. JoAnn,

    “Ken Glass; Sheila’s past request that we speak our minds but remain civil prevents me from telling you what I see in your out-of-touch comments and your condescending GOP attitude.”

    At best I would call it being a FOOL.

  7. No one bothers to address the issues I raise, simply because I am a conservative. I share the frustration of those who struggle to get personal necessities but please do not delude yourself into believing that only a few more dollars would solve the problems. Go to a suburban school and check out the $100 shoes on those kids in the free lunch line and tell me there are not problems in the system. I want a system that does not PENALIZE those who get jobs, those who marry. I don’t know the cultural differences in Kenya, but I feel safe in assuming they exist. Please tell me you don’t think that extra money with no strings would be spent wisely. I stopped for coffee at a convenience store near a school the other day. There were five modest income middle school students in front of me with $10 each in chips and donuts and soda. JFK wanted a welfare system that lifted people out of poverty. Who messed up that goal?

  8. Definition: from Webster’s New World Dictionary and Thesaurus

    fool n.[L follis, windbag] 1. a silly or stupid person 2. a jester 3. a victim of a trick, etc; dupe—vi. 1. to act like a fool 2. to joke 3. [to meddle (with) —vt. to trick; deceive—fool around [Inf.] to trifle—fool’er-y n.

    Many in the Christian Right are not stupid they have just been tricked or you might say duped by the propaganda and psychological warfare directed at them.

  9. Ken, you confuse the scientific study done in Kenya with your unscientific observations. Recall Reagan’s welfare queens who were fabrications.

  10. I would like to suggest that Ken Glass spend a month trying to survive within the same circumstances as many people do:

    Here are the parameters Ken:

    1. Get a minimum wage job that requires hard physical labor.
    2. Find an apartment that is clean and safe that you can afford on your minimum wage paycheck.
    3. Buy food with the money left over after paying for rent and utilities and gas to get to work.
    4. Buy the remaining essential items you need with the money left over after paying for shelter and food. This would be toilet paper, soap, shampoo,etc.
    5. Treat yourself to something nice for all of your hard work.

    Now….let’s see what you were really able to purchase after paying your rent. You most likely didn’t even have enough money for food.

    I left out a very important item in the five point list above – Figure out how much money you actually have left to spend on your own basic needs after taxes are taken out of your paycheck. Those taxes include forcing you to pay for Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and other benefits that you most likely will never be able to receive when you are old enough to qualify.

  11. Ken:

    Have you actually gone to a suburban school and witnessed the $100 shoes on the kids in the free lunch line? Or is that just a story that is passed around in your “christian” radical right circle?

    How do you know for a “FACT” that the five middle school students you saw in a convenience store are from “modest income” families?

  12. Here’s today’s scoreboard.

    Sheila presents evidence from others of some causes and cures for poverty.

    Ken responds without evidence demanding that his cultural cognition be addressed. (Ken, FYI that is impossible. You believe your media regardless of fact. That’s incurable unless you change your media.)

    Getting back to Sheila. Some futurists believe that if we don’t destroy earth as a habitable place by moving gigatons of ancient carbon from beneath the ground into the atmosphere there will come a time when computers and robots replace most labor. We have started down that road technically. For instance we can see the time when nobody owns cars. When you need to go from A to B you use an Ubber like app and an autonomous vehicle of the appropriate size picks you up and delivers you to B.

    Right now it takes an average of 63% of Americans 47 hours a week to make what we all consume. It’s steadily declining and may someday go back to the much lower numbers of when I was born.

    Many of us would add to the mix two additional factors. We have on the average more than we need, and the distribution of what we make bears no connection to what we contribute or “deserve”.

    Let’s say 100 years from now we have managed global warming to the point where the consequences are not as devastating as the Black Plague pandemic of the 14th century, so technological progress has continued and the workforce is reduced from 2/3s of us to 1/3 and the work week from 47 hours per to 30 hours with automation doing the rest. And we’ve solved our distribution problem down to the wealthy having only 10X the poor.

    Seems like a happy place to me. Let’s go there.

  13. To take Ken Glass seriously I’d suggest giving a cash distribution a try. Pick any major mixed area. Rural urban and empower parents with cash. Then watch carefully and see if the children still feel the only path to esteem is junk food and what appears to be 100$ shoes but are really Walmart knockoffs.

    I’m actually fascinated by the experiment and surrounding research.

  14. Wow. Cut Ken some slack. I believe he was raising a legitimate point: perception is reality. The reality others describe has not been clearly defined in his eyes. I wouldn’t suppose there are any readily available records on how welfare money is spent; maybe that’s the problem. It also may well be that statistically 95% of those receiving welfare/support actually spend their money on food, soap, gasoline, not expensive sneakers, junk food, etc. However, the 5% that chooses to spend it otherwise gets all the attention. Let’s ALL see some real numbers first.

  15. Let’s taken Ken’ s parable of the fish one step further. Give someone a fish and you’ve given him food for a day. Teach him to fish and you’ve given him food for a life time. Teach him to share fish and you’ve helped him create a sustaining and moral society.

  16. Ken, I tried to respond to you, but I requested that you explain what you meant to me first, so that I was sure we were talking about the same thing. You chose not even to acknowledge my question, and then complained that “No one bothers to address the issues I raise, simply because I am a conservative. ”

    Please advise.

  17. Ken is correct in that the money itself cannot be the only prong of the fork. There has to be other prongs that address the next steps. However, the point of the article is that the money just by itself reduces the stress enduced chemicals that actively inhibit those other prongs from being effective.

  18. Everybody is piling on Ken, but some of what he said makes sense: “Fix the parts that say ‘Get a job, lose some benefits! Marry your baby daddy, lose some benefits!'” Those are two of the worst things we did with “Great Society” programs. Too strict income limitations to qualify for welfare make it too costly to work for many people. Requiring recipients to be single parents breaks up families, who do bettter when they are together.

    Ken, you need to know that a $100 shoe can be bought at a discount store for a lot less and at a thrift store for very little. Appearances can be deceiving.

    There’s a relative certainty that our government won’t institute any programs like the one in Kenya. Our representatives don’t seem to like “evidence” of any sort and they don’t seem inclined to social experimentation, if it means adding to the deficit. They only believe in adding to the deficit by lowering the taxes of their corporate friends.

  19. Good grief, have any of your read the Welfare reform act that Clinton signed back in the day? You can only be on welfare for a maximum of 5 yrs Total In Your Life and have you seen the amount of money you get per month? Too bad Ken has never had a bad day in his life where he has to worry about his next meal or being homeless when he lost a job. Too bad Ken can never imagine what it’s like when he get an arm ripped off in an accident and can’t work for months while his body heals. Too bad Ken doesn’t know what it’s like to be a senior citizen living on 11k a year and trying to survive without being a burden on your children, that is if you have any children to support you. People like Ken live in their glass houses and don’t understand reality these days. Like no job security anywhere, not even in Europe. Or how corporations can use their ‘right to work’ laws to release you tomorrow with no notice and no severance. Too bad people like Ken only listen to their own political view points and never reach out to do research that is abundantly available now that the internet is virtually available to all.

  20. Just doing some quick Internet searches the us spends about $212B per year on welfare, cash to families unable to earn their keep.

    It costs $11.4B to administer those programs. Roughly 5%.

    Reasonable I think.

  21. Comparing Kenya and America is like comparing apples and oranges. The culture and sense of self/community are vitally different as are the cultures.

    When I was in Uganda most of the youth there thought Americans were stupid and backwards to date before their 20’s… After all, you only date to find a spouse.

    The way they prioritize is vastly different too with family and community being decision impacting.

    A Kenyan I met there seemed baffled by American culture and attitude as did I about much of her culture.

    As much as I hate to say it, when you give cash to the poor in America tobacco, alcohol, and drug expenditures DO increase (and I call BS that their study saw none), heck, I’ve seen people get extra cash and splurge on unnecessary items only to wind up right back where they were before the cash (minus no bills).

    And tobacco and alcohol are dirt cheap there… I could get a bottle of liquor for a couple bucks and the same with a pack of smokes and many people will drink and smoke with you freely.

    America has a culture problem first and foremost and having lived on the system in the US I can vouch that money doesn’t stretch as far here. Most people there get food from gardens and family, and so the only things that are really out of reach are education and medicine.

    Here? I don’t see families living within walking distance, spreading food amongst themselves and providing free child care for each other. I don’t see stores haggling over prices nor giving discounts to needy families because the owners live and work inside the neighborhoods.

    Just throwing cash at the poor in America won’t have the same results… That’s not how America is wired. When you have a culture inundated with consumerism and comparative living you have a people who bemoan their lack of luxury and comfort because that’s what they’ve been conditioned for.

    When you’re barely squeeking by you get tired of only eating generic knockoffs, of never having money for junk food, of never having “fun” money…

    And what’s worse is you live smack dab in the middle of neighbors constantly getting new vehicles, ordering takeout, going to the movies, enjoying some beer, etc, etc. Then when you get over it, your kids come home and are heartbroken because they can’t get all these “extras” other kids get which further crushes the spirit.

    And like bulemics, this continuous mental state of being reminded of what you can’t have, the poor get sucked into guilty indulgences and splurges.

    It also doesn’t help that most assistance programs will kick you off if you (or your kids) make too much or have too much in savings… So saving up for a surgery, school, etc is basically impossible unless you commit fraud so you might as well spend it.

    Smdh… Something tells me Sheila has never grown up poor nor spent time in Africa. This study has no direct reflection on American policy, but a lot of reflection over the difference in culture.

  22. I moved to Dallas in 1964, after the Jacksonville Sheriff told me I had “48 hours to get out of town.” Actually, I left after “168.” I needed to prove my point.

    So I end up in “Big D” a few months after the assasination of JFK. And to make a very long story short—I end up one day as the Tax Counsel for Eddie Childs who owns The Western Company of N.A. , the Texas Ranger Major League Baseball Team, and is the God Father to George Bush’s son. This is around 1970 or 71. Closing in on 80, my memory as to dates isn’t what it used to be. I’m sure, some of you can understand.

    To even make it shorter. I quit after a few months. Wow! was Childs “pissed” since they had advertised my position in “The Wall Street Journal” and had spent over a week giving me every psychological test imaginable with the other four finalists for the job. One of the tests asked, What would you rather be an accountant or (something like) working in a sewer? My answer was always working in a sewer. The same question was asked with a little variation many times. After a few months in my highly paid position, Childs tells me that he wants me to take the CPA examination. My response to him as I originally had documented, “I would rather work in a sewer.” So he said, “If that’s what you want, go to it.” And I resigned and haven’t TAKEN over $12,000.00 a year from employment since. That’s why my Social Security is right at $700.00 a month. Best decision I ever made. At least I’m free. The likes of Eddie Childs and the Koch Brothers don’t own me. But at the moment, they own about everyone else. Present Sheila’s Blog members excluded.

    To get to my point, a few years later (1973 or ’74) this jack ass had started a bumper sticker campaign all over Texas with [I’m mad, too.!!]. Who was this multi-millionaire oil and gas man mad with? The welfare recipients. More specifically the N———rs.

    As I said along with Nancy and Pete, it’s propaganda and psychological warfare and it is not just about welfare. And most of it has originated from these horrible oil and gas jerks I worked for in the 60’s and70’s in Dallas. By the way, Eddie Childs was one of Molly Ivins favorite targets if you have ever read her books. She thought he was funny. I didn’t and still don’t.

  23. Lots of good points, Disappointe d Joe. Nothing like hearing from someone with first hand experience. I do know this, we in America do not just have a sick economic system. We have a very, very sick culture.

  24. First; I apologize for misremembering the title of today’s blog; it is “Fascinating!” Living on the edge I guess I found the situation more interesting and challenging; too busy juggling bills to be fascinated. My poor attempt at a joke, another apology.

    Disappointed Joe; American policy certainly is the direct reflection of the study; what you refer to as “the difference in culture” doesn’t take into account that yesterday’s difference in culture has become today’s American caste system. The lack of debtor’s prisons today is a reflection of a difference in culture; the last step to full caste system here. The crime rate has risen exponentially with the increase in the number of middle-income to low-income and low-income to poverty level. You don’t have to grow up poor to recognize poverty and the problems it spawns.

    The current changes in American policy, driven by the religious right-wing GOP and financed by the Koch brothers and their ilk, are taking away birth control options, which would control population increases, and denying that increased population the job opportunities, often medical care and food stamps and/or public assistance to survive. Couple that with escalating costs of everything, especially basic human needs, and the caste system increases. Don’t have to visit or make comparisons to Africa to recognize the problems.

    My income, barely above federal poverty level, includes my PERF check of $277.62 monthly. This income, which is my only taxable income, disqualifies me for any public assistance (which I wouldn’t apply for) but I also do not have enough income to pay for legal assistance and making needed repairs to my 60 year old home and 20 year old car are luxuries in my existence. Still; I know I am much better off than so many others in this city alone.

    Giving some people more money would be beneficial; some other people would squander it on junk food and entertainment. This is the human condition; has been that way since time began and won’t end in our lifetime. All we can do is all we can do; this will never be enough for some people. The study of “GiveDirectly” in Kenya shows human nature much the same as we have here.

  25. I saw some valid points with some of what Ken posted…we don’t teach people to fish and we boot people to quickly off welfare. If a mom gets a minimum wage job or slightly above minimum wage it is still not enough to pay for child care. None of that money earned even comes home. I worked as a public health nurse in Marion County where most of my clients lived in poverty. Many would have loved to be out of the home doing something but if a woman got a job that barely pays anything she can’t afford the day care. I do know of people who would ban together to watch the children in the neighborhood but that came with its own problems. I also worked as a child psychiatry nurse at Riley where 60% of our clinic was medicaid.

    Every aspect of your life is a struggle…every aspect. Every aspect of your life is deprived what are we going to eat? Can’t afford tampons, rent from slum lords and there are a fair number of those taking advantage of too many, no reliable transportation, day care needs…not to mention having to deal with the government for all your needs and all the bureaucratic crap. You think the BMV is bad try FSSA and all their paperwork and systems and volume.

    I rarely saw joy or hope with the people I worked with…There is a reason why those born in poverty do not get out of poverty. Imagine you have two or three kids born into poverty and the chances of bettering themselves because there are zero resources is next to nill. It is the very rare person who gets out of poverty. I took many a psychology and sociology classes and there are studies that show the devastating affects of poverty on the body, the mind, and the soul.

    I just finished watching the Big Short…talk about welfare queens…I was so enraged and once again they are taking advantage of the working class. My husband worked for Irwin and he did audits and kept telling me how the mortgage department was losing their shirts and yet they kept on putting money into west coast sub-prime and he and I both knew the bubble was there. I am more mad at them then the poor child who got dealt a raw deal from life knowing their obstacles are so daunting and the stress that comes from no hope.

  26. Disappointed Joe left me disappointed ’cause no solutions were offered.

    When I was in Kenya they had 45% unemployment and no welfare but no dead bodies in the streets. Why? Mostly prostitution (think AIDS) and theft of all different flavors.

    Is that a better solution for America?

    Also the poor here as diverse as the rich. 20% scumbags, 20% angelic, 40% average. Who should we pay most attention to? The relatively low administration rate that I pointed out earlier is mostly spent on the 20% scumbags who if they are prevented from one scam move on to another. Just as loosing a battle as crime and terrorist prevention. But what are you going to do?

  27. Sheila Kennedy’s column and the research she cites, from the perspective of my own experience, is spot on. As a poor kid that experienced painful poverty in my late childhood and early teens I can attest to the deep humiliating and debilitating effects of that poverty. I can also attest to the liberating impact of money and in my case having enough money in the family to go to bed without hunger and without fear was a really big deal. Money wasn’t about buying things. It was about not being hungry, fearful and humiliated, and in wealth focused America when you are without money people witlessly find so many ways to humiliate you, to take your dignity. So my experience says the Kenyan findings are true. My experience says $15 an hour would be a powerful positive liberating tool for the working poor. My experience in working with adults with disabilities who are forced by Medicaid rules to remain poor in order to quality for their medical benefits says universal health care for all Americans would be incredibly liberating for disabled people in our society. Damn, they could suddenly be allowed to work at jobs that paid living wages without jeopardizing their health care! So I hope the Kenyan insights are shared by Dr. Kennedy and others. I hope people will actually take at face value what the advocates for $15 an hour are saying. I hope unions that advocate for wage justice will once again grow in our country. And I hope people who have experienced poverty themselves that succeed in business will also grow dignity, wisdom and hope by paying their employees living wages and viable benefits.

  28. The important point is, how well do people handle their money?? The source of the money could be a job, or a Social Security Check. I have known people with good jobs that paid well and were well educated but were forever lamenting all the debt they had. They were living beyond their means.
    Then we do have people who are responsible, but cannot find a living wage job, or because of our For Profit Health Care System find themselves with huge Medical Bills. I just received my AARP Magazine. Under their Consumer Alert Section – Prescription Drug Costs double in just 7 years. How do you plan for that???

  29. Ken, Let’s take the fish thing from another point of view. What is the result when we teach a person to fish but there are no fish to catch?

  30. John Cardwell, my mother had to go through the Medicaid spend down many years ago, a real experience. The Government Bureaucrat was pleasant, but the process was totally demeaning in essence you had to justify your existence.

  31. It is fascinating. When we finally stop blaming the poor for being poor and figure out what societal structures would help, we could move forward. When we finally decide to not feed the military/industrial complex the vast majority of our tax dollars, we just might have funds to help. When our legislators, federal or state, stop judging and condemning the poor and women and truly look for solutions, we could move forward. That’s not happening as long as we have Representstive Bought and Representstive Sold. This truly is faconating research.

  32. Look at all of the hate-filled bile. Ken is a rich entitled bigot who wants the poor and elderly to suffer. Being critical of any aspect of the welfare system makes me a greedy bastard…(I got mine, so leave me alone)? Is there really nothing needed to improve welfare? BTW, I answered the cultural differences in Kenya by saying I did not know, but concluding that a change in Kenya would have the same impact on the US is a tremendous leap. More money does not mean more compassion! Three of those 5 students were my own students so I know their financial situation and I know the difference between knock offs and genuine Jordan’s.

  33. John Cardwell speaks the truth from personal experience. I had very similar experience as a youngster and teen. My mother, who was working in a clerical position with a large national company, carried the load for the family when my dad was laid off in the recession during the late fifties. Getting food assistance for our family of six kids was a humiliating and frustrating exercise for my mom. We ate a lot of peanut butter, macaroni, cheese, and oatmeal for several years. When I got new clothes, it was usually hand-me-downs or gifts from more financially secure relatives. To underscore the point some have made to Ken, who assumed a lot (from the basis of personal bias) about why/how someone has something he considers inappropriate for a “poor” person.
    Walk a mile in my shoes may seem cliche but would make an interesting experiment for those who combine bigotry and condescension instead of compassion and understanding.

  34. The 80% of the poor who are the leftovers from corporate hiring are the focus of liberalism. The 20% who are societal leeches are the focus of conservatism. The 80% of the wealthy who contribute are the focus of conservatism while the 20% who are wealthy scumbags are the focus of liberalism.

    Let’s all just stop generalizing and accept moral and empathetic diversity as merely who we are.

  35. My church helps with two food pantries in the city – one downtown and one for Pike-Wash. Twp. If you see $100 shoes on a child from a poor family, it’s because the mother paid a couple of dollars for those shoes at the Goodwill store or a church rummage sale.

    Folks with food stamps at the grocery store agonize over the total, hope they have enough, and put back some items to stay within the food stamp allotment. The food stamps don’t cover non-food necessities of soap, diapers, toothpaste, toilet tissue, cleaning supplies, etc., so my church also collects these items for the “food” pantries.

    Watch for these folks in the grocery line and help them out. Look for the poor person at a fast food restaurant having only coffee and give a few extra dollars at the food counter to send them a whole meal. You’ll be glad you did.

  36. The GiveDirectly concept in Kenya deserves a broader description before we generalize its Kenyan benefits to potential US benefits.

    GiveDirectly is a 501(c)3 Non-Profit serving as a form of charitable giving, a tax deduction. As a snarky aside, do we think the wealthy aren’t always looking for a tax break while demonstrating their compassion?

    The program’s operational model is designed to serve those in “extreme poverty”, a condition that we in the US have trouble comprehending. These folks are living in thatch-roof homes with no electricity, no source of safe drinking water, of course no plumbing or sanitary services, no medical services whatsoever, and certainly no cell phone service or Internet. Our ‘food deserts’ make ‘extreme poverty’ look like the Garden of Eden.

    The average GiveDirectly recipient in Kenya lives on $0.65 per day. The average recipient cash transfer to a participating Kenyan household is $1000.00 per year, the entire budget for an average sized Kenyan household.

    Evidently this GiveDirectly cash transfer from an individual private donor to a qualified recipient works in Kenya, maybe it would work in the US and maybe not.

  37. Pete! Revamp welfare to not penalize industrious people who live with their children. Teach them how to buy efficiently. Get a dietician involved. Job training expanded. Let’s see something more creative than more money.

  38. I have not seen any criticism of corporate welfare in all of the above comments. Or am I mistaken and there is no such thing as industrial agriculture subsidies as an example.

  39. Ken accused five middle school students from “moderate family incomes’ of buying $10 worth of chips, donuts and soda. I personally would have no clue what any of those items cost because I don’t buy them. Ken apparently does buy those “luxury” items and knows their costs very well – prices he knows well enough to know that they added up to $10 for each student and in his opinion they had no right to be buying those items.

    Then Ken said he actually knew three of the five students because they are his students. Did he ask them where they obtained the money for those “luxury” items? Could they have been guilty of earning that money doing some sort of work and then decided to reward themselves with a treat?

    Ken gets really feistyand accuses us all of “hate-filled bile” if we question why he is passing judgement on other people. He turns our comments around and then actually does spew hate-filled bile on other commenters that choose not to judge others without knowing the facts of a situation.

    Unfortunately, when Ken stated that those were his students I envisioned him looking at every student in the free lunch line and passing judgement on each one based upon their clothing or shoes. It is clear that he has given himself the authority to make those judgements even though he may not have a clue as to how or where they obtained the shoes or the spending money they possessed.

    I feel very very sorry for all of the students where Ken works.

  40. Nancy! You see no problem with judging me and my situation. When was the last time you observed a middle school lunch line. I am not judging anyone who is on any form of public assistance but I am judging a system that punishes hard work. That penalizes parents who live with their children. That brags about unprecedented increases in food stamp recipients. I don’t want to cut anyone lose from help they need, but I want to do more than throw money at them. Are you seriously not interested in any oversight and counseling regarding financial management for people getting such assistance? I do not indulge in such “luxuries” unless you count my $1.39 cup of coffee (which I know some could not afford). The reason I know what the items cost is because they were checking out in front of me. As for corporate welfare, I am opposed to subsidies and tax breaks and crop subsidies on the federal level.

  41. Ken Glass; changing your comment name to Ken Glassware does not hide your Republican bigoted, judgmental views or your identity. Do you have the balls to tell us which school your provide guidance to innocent children in?

  42. Ken!!! Here we go again!

    I was merely observing you passing judgement on others based upon what you have written on today’s blog. YOU are the only one on this blog that has passed judgement on people you believe should not be buying things that YOU think they do not have the money for. You definitely were judging others and by the posts of many here today, they also noted how you were passing judgement on others. If you can’t accept that then you should go back and read what you wrote.

    Your last post suggests that I am not interested in any oversight or counseling regarding financial management for people getting assistance. RIGHT THERE you just passed judgement on me and on the people getting assistance. How are you not able to recognize that YOU ARE a very judgemental person? Who are you to decide that people don’t know how to manage money? You are making a lot of assumptions about people and situations that you know nothing about.

    All I did was recognize that you were judging people based on what you saw them doing or wearing. Don’t you dare claim that you weren’t judging anyone who is on any form of public assistance. YOU did that very thing in your earlier posts. Grow up and accept the fact that you wrote what you wrote and there is no way to claim that you didn’t write it or that you weren’t judging others!

  43. Thank you, Nancy, the fact that this man works in a school is alarming. With all of the recent news about abuses in schools; students are also subjected to judgmental attitudes by those who are supposed to be offering guidance. Children of all ages are very intuitive and sense attitudes adults believe are hidden behind a smiling face. Having grandchildren and great-grandchildren in local schools; this has given me another reason for concern about our local education system.

  44. You are welcome JoAnn. As I stated earlier, I feel very sorry for the students where he works. I just hope that he does not treat them as condescendingly in person as he speaks about them on this blog.

    As you said, children can sense how adults truly feel about them. How sad for the children for those children that are exposed to his attitude of superiority.

  45. With all due respect, I am not the one with the reading or memory problem. I responded to this post because I have no confidence that money offered to people with poverty level incomes would be spent as prudently as was the case in Kenya. I was very critical of the public assistance systems in place in this country. In my second post, I criticized the system more specifically. I did not criticize the kids for the shoes they wear. Does anyone disagree when I suggest that JFK’s goals have not been met?

    I was severely criticized for not knowing of what I write, but I was still not critical of the kids for the buying decisions of their parents. I wonder when I see the exorbitant expenses incurred by some (Shoes and expensive non-nutricious junk food) if some sort of financial guidance is not in order.

    I then gave Pete a succinct response about the improvements I would like to see in public assistance. I was then attacked for the bad influence I am on my students. You don’t know me but because I do not share your progressive views, I am no doubt a despicable person.
    The only judgement I pass is on a welfare system that spends $10-30 trillion (depending on how you adjust for inflation), undermines the family, and puts no dent in the poverty rate over more than half a century. I also pass judgement on anyone who thinks the only problem with such a system is not spending enough.

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