Comments about ‘What if we just gave poor people cash?’

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Published: Saturday, June 14 2014 1:14 p.m. MDT

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Hamath
Omaha, NE

Like all social experiments, there are a huge number of factors that go into why the Kenyans chose to spend the money responsibly. This study will need to be be replicated in MANY different cultures and situations before you could make any conclusion such as "When you just give poor people money they spend it responsibly (and not on any addictions)". Interesting idea. But certainly we shouldn't jump to any conclusions based on one study. Social science research more than any other type of research needs lots if replication before you can make any conclusions.

SCfan
clearfield, UT

Think maybe we can give cash to all these illegals flooding our southern border right now and tell them to go home?

MAYHEM MIKE
Salt Lake City, UT

I wonder what would happen if the government gave each American $1,000,000 -- tax free -- with the condition that they would no longer receive ANY future governmental benefit. No Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid -- ever. The condition would be absolute: If one exhausted all his funds, it would be up to others to support him (or let him "starve"), but not the government. Expensive for the government, initially, but cheaper in the long run?

Readers: What are your thoughts? Would you have the discipline to safeguard your windfall? Would you take the $1,000,000 in lieu of future government aid?

george of the jungle
goshen, UT

When you live on food storage for a whale and run out of stuff, you'll need to go to the store sometime. When you are trying ti recoup, build up everything your your out of you need to buy the stuff you need not have someone give you toilet paper and tooth past.

ordinaryfolks
seattle, WA

Mayhem Mike
I certainly possess the inner strength to be able to shepherd such a windfall. Then again, I have the good fortune to have been raised in an environment that was bountiful, and was able to absorb some solid lessons in the nature of happiness.

However, when all you know is poverty, you are not schooled in the lessons of delayed gratifications and society demeans you based on your economic status, then it is easy to see how someone can "blow" through a financial windfall.

As a whole, this nation has blown its windfall. We founded a country with impressive national resources and prior to the 1980's a fairly solid middle class population. We learned a great deal through our Civil War and subsequent global wars. . We learned the lessons of civil responsibility to one another. Yet we are now fat, stupid and are blowing through our collective windfall

This is the fault of politicians and popular culture telling us we can have it all (low taxes and high benefits). That happiness is a new car, the little blue pill, perfect bodies and good hair. That jingoism is a political platform.

Sagacious
Logan, UT

These people are wise enough to know that if they spend the money how the giver wants them to, they are then more likely to keep getting more. Not rocket science to realize that.

A quote from the article:
"There is this growing realization that being poor is really stressful."
Wow! Talk about discovering the obvious. It shouldn't have taken a study to figure out. Pretty much everyone else already knows this. It's just common sense.

Eventually, the givers of this cash will discover something else quite obvious... that most recipients will develop an "easy-come, easy-go" attitude. It's human nature that what you don't earn, you don't appreciate as much. It's been that way since the beginning of time.

An additional old saying is also applicable in this situation. "It's better to teach a person to fish than to give them one. Giving one will feed them once. Teaching to fish will feed them for a lifetime."

This money would be more wisely used in teaching these people how to make their own money and subsist on their own. Otherwise they will become forever dependent on handouts.

neece
Logan, UT

MAYHEM MIKE - about 2002-03 Bush gave everyone $1,000 in a refund. The idea is people would put it in the bank and save it, gaining interest and helping to stimulate the economy. But it majorly backfired. Literally over 95% spent it as fast as they got it. They bought unnecessary things TV;s, Stereo's etc. When it was all gone, we had people wondering if he would do it again. Living In an area that is predominantly on Government assistance (California) They would sell their mother if it meant getting something for nothing. It is all about that "next score" So I believe that if given more money they would do the same but then start devising ways to get more. I has witnessed this time and time again. So nice idea? but been there.

cocosweet
Sandy, UT

To SCFan-- You want the illegals to leave? Stop paying them. That means no more lawn services, building, certainly you must stop buying fruits and vegetables. No jobs, no money, no one looking to better themselves and their families. Why do you think the illegal population dropped these past few years? Because of the media and government pressure? Hah, no, economic recession. So I challenge you to figure out how to not pay these people.. You see even farmers agree that we need people for certain types of jobs. How about you look at solutions (green cards) that allow people to come here for work and then go home as needed?

Shawnm750
West Jordan, UT

NEECE - The government never gives money with the intent that people will save it. The economy is never stimulated by people saving money, only by spending it. Jobs are only created when people buy things, be it goods or services.

But what Mayhem Mike is asking if we ought to give people a one-time lump sum amount, the acceptance of which would exempt the recipient from any future government assistance. It's an interesting question for sure. Were we to try that, I think we'd see a large amount of people who blew through all of it incredibly fast; some who would save it and stretch it out over several years; and some who would actually take that money and grow it into something more, actually putting more money back into the economy.

worf
Mcallen, TX

There are many groups of people in this country who have received a ton of free money, and are still in poverty.

dalefarr
South Jordan, Utah

A negative income tax (cash) instead of social programs, was a good idea from the Nixon administration and it is a good idea now.

Tyler Ray
Taylorsville, UT

I served my mission in Africa and this study doesn't surprise me. That being said, unfortunately, I would bet results would be different here in the states. We are too entitled. I'd like to see the study done here.

SAS
Sandy, UT

@dalefarr: We have a negative income tax--it's called the Earned Income Tax Credit. Conservative pundits regularly insist that it should be done away with. Just like the EPA, the Endangered Species Act, and other parts of Nixon's legacy.

AmPatriot
Taylorsville, UT

We can's compare the economy of the United States and these African nations and what would happen to the money. The money the Africans get us under strict banking controls where banks cannot charge fees and costs to the people who get it. A line of credit in Africa is regulated without credit bureaus reports.

In the USA we do give them the same cash but it is not documented, regulated, under fake ID and address and names into banks. Then we offer so many entiltments the cost of such a program sets the welfare illegals in upper class freebies. We give the Mexican illegal cash for gas, food, rent, business, booze, cigarettes, guns, so what else anyone expect us to provide they don't already get? The difference in the African system it is done openly and audited while in the US its covert and undocumented handouts where records are not kept.

We even deposit funds in mexican banks for mexican families who receive welfare from Utah and are citizens of mexico. Welfare is unrestricted use cash funds not limited to food or user ID or country of residence.

annewandering
oakley, idaho

I have to laugh about the idea that poor people do not know how to "delay gratification" having no experience with it. Being poor means EVERYTHING involving money is delayed gratification. No one is better at this than poor people because that is all that is available! Add in the idea that for many there is no change in that status in the foreseeable future and yes poor people not only know how to delay gratification but to forget about it entirely.
Being poor does not equal being an addict either. So many stereotypes that pervade our thinking that just are not true for most poor people. If I were given money in cash I would fix my leaking roof, get a washer and dryer and fix the hole in the floor in my bathroom. Those are my delayed gratifications today. I think most poor people would do similarly.

Midwest Mom
Soldiers Grove, WI

Yes, Worf, and some of them are in prison for non-violent offenses, at the tune of $80K a year. The poor need to be lifted, not punished. A good place to start would be to start thanking the working poor for all the nasty jobs they do.

samhill
Salt Lake City, UT

Some people use money, whether earned or freely given to them, responsibly and effectively. Others do not. No surprises here at all.

The real question I think is not whether everyone will squander money that is given to them. Rather, the crucial question is how do we produce enough economic vigor to have the money to give away in the first place.

There are plenty of people in our country who would be recipients of this kind of unconditional "charity" but who would benefit far more from and prefer a job through which they would **earn** their income. However, the constraining effects of, among other things, overreaching governmental intrusions into the economy continue to hold the it back and prevent it from producing the necessary jobs.

Allowing a freer economy will always help more people more fully than any program of hand outs.

Though still far from abundant, the incredible improvements in the lives of billions of people during the last few decades of increased economic freedoms in places like China, India and many other nations, has demonstrated this effect very obviously.

Irony Guy
Bountiful, Utah

Imagine, giving money to people who don't have any, so they can invest in their own education and get better jobs. What an idea. My Republican friends won't like it.

DN Subscriber
Cottonwood Heights, UT

We have data for a similar experiment in the United States.

Cash is given to people in the form of EBT (Electronic Benefit Transfer) cards, basically credit cards paid for by taxpayers that took the place of food stamp coupons, and SSI "disability payments".

Just like your credit card statement shows where your charges came from, that data is available for EBT cards.

What does it show? Some people actually use it for legitimate purposes. But, a huge percentage use the cards for illegal purposes, launder the money through fake stores, spend it at bars and strip clubs and convert it to illegal drug payments.

Maybe this is a cultural thing, that works in Kenya, but it is an extremely flawed program in the United States.

If you and I were giving directly, we could stop giving money to those who abuse our generosity. But, since it is controlled by government bureaucrats the doling out of money to the criminals and unworthy continues unabated, and without the slightest attempt to stop the fraud.

Some deserving people need help, others steal help shamelessly.

cjb
Bountiful, UT

If poor people are given more money, it is easier for landlords to raise rent. I as a taxpayer want to help out the working poor and those who can't work. I feel better giving the poor food stamps, not money. Then I feel assured that they and their children will at least not go hungry.

As far as I am concerned helping the working poor and the disabled is one of the best places for my tax dollars to go. [It certainly beats sending our troups to war all the time in wars we ought not get involved in].

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