Demote the general welfare

Should we declare victory in the War on Poverty and bring the boys home from Washington? It has a certain visceral appeal, but it might not work the way we think it would:

The money isn’t being spent on the poor, but it is being spent to prevent poverty; some people’s poverty, anyway. The bureaucrats who administer the anti-poverty programs are themselves the objects. Their jobs coordinating one of the hundreds of jobs programs is itself a jobs program. That’s not sarcasm or hyperbole. Really, there isn’t any other place for them, and they won’t be allowed to live in the condition they would end up in if not for that government job.

They have no marketable skill, and at 45 they can’t now learn anything that will earn them a middle class living. If that seems unkind or offensive, express it this way: the private economy has no place for them. Firing them en masse won’t unleash a bounty of entrepreneurship, as the former grant administration compliance auditor pushes his own weenie cart, selling dogs to the former diversity coordination outreach specialist who now builds houses. Though maybe tearing down empty houses would be a better business model today.

Short of hiring them to dig holes, and then reassigning the Department of Education to fill them back up, it’s difficult to come up with a way to dispose of these folks humanely.


  1. Jeffro »

    9 December 2013 · 2:00 pm

    We don’t keep supporting those left behind by the times and tech in the private sector – why should we continue to prop up public servants with no job assignments? Of course this is just rhetorical, the Party That Happens To Be In Power Just This Moment will make sure they continue to be The Party Of Free Stuff Forever So You Don’t Have To Work For A Living.

  2. Tatyana »

    9 December 2013 · 11:55 pm

    You’re too calm and matter-of-fact towards them, Chaz. I am way, way more unforgiving.
    Maybe because it was me 2 yrs ago, when I was desperately sending out resumes for all kinds of “in the vicinity of design” positions, trying to get my ends meet, when I received that phone call from some government lackey, having a nerve to order me to answer some sort of government “job search compliance” questionnaire. Acting all bossy, as if I owed something to him personally. I asked who gave him permission to call me on my personal phone and bother me with with impertinent questions – all on my buck! And then he said, with attitude you wouldn’t believe: “Ican aKS you, and I have a job, and you don’t!”
    If it was for me, he would have nothing, not now, not ever, the half-littered placemate.

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