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Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Welfare ATMs

Milton Friedman once suggested that the welfare bureaucracy should be scrapped and the government should just mail checks directly to the poor. It would be cheaper and so the poor would get more money for the same program cost.

I believe I have come up with a similar alternative. I suggest that the welfare bureaucracy and related programs be scrapped and replaced with a system of free ATMs set up around the country. Anyone could use one as often as they wanted, no questions asked. The catch is that it would only dispense $1 at a time. Push the button, wait a minute, get a dollar. Repeat as needed.

Presto- no more beggars. Additionally, the system trains impulsive people to be patient. If they want a lot of money, they will have to stand there and diligently push the button to get what they want.

It is possible that an enterprising person will figure out that they can make $60 per hour if the push the button diligently or hire someone to do so. I think such farming is unlikely to occur as the kind of people attracted to free money tend to have short attention spans.

But suppose some gang decided to claim the ATM and stake it out. What is the harm? The gang would have to pay people to push the button and people to guard them. Presto, instant entry-level jobs for just about anyone. No doubt an entire economy and marketplace would spring up around such places.   


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