On demeaning the poor through regulation

A Washington Post op-ed by Dana Milbank this week catalogues the disturbing rise of welfare-benefit restrictions around the country that seem designed not to prevent abuse but to cut welfare beneficiaries off from a range of common, everyday activities (like swimming pools) and foods (like tuna fish) that many Americans enjoy. Another set of laws, notes Milbank, imposes high court costs on impecunious defendants. The piece, which highlights laws and practices from Kansas, Massachusetts, Missouri, and Washington, is worth a read, here.

For a counterpoint to the view that the best way to encourage people to avoid welfare is to make life unpleasant, see this NPR story about a charity called “GiveDirectly.”

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