30 June 2013

Institutionalised hypocrisy

"The role of citizens, of Christians, of humanity is to take care of each other, but not for Washington to steal from those in the country and give to others in the country.”
These are the words of [US] tea party Congressman Stephen Fincher of Frog Jump, Tennessee [who] argued passionately in favor of ...gut[ting] the federal food stamp program by over $20 billion and push[ing] an estimated two million people—mostly retirees and poor families with kids—further into poverty and hunger.

The reason? Rep. Fincher is a Crusader for small government...but he’s also one of the biggest welfare queens in his home state of Tennessee. According to federal subsidy data compiled by the Environmental Working Group, Stephen Fincher has personally cashed in on $3.5 million in federal farm welfare payments (aka agricultural subsidies) since 1999. Fincher’s average welfare payout comes out to $300,000 annually—200 times bigger than the $1,586.40 an average family in Tennessee receives in food stamp benefits a year. Small Government, Huge Hypocrite, Yasha Levine, nsfwcorp, 28 June
And so it goes on. It's 35 years since the corrupt insanity of farm subsidies was obvious to informed undergraduates; 30 years since the huge cost of these subsidies began to be accurately quantified and promulgated...and yet they persist. Our policymaking system just does not have the mechanisms to terminate failed policies if they are backed by large corporations and, especially, if they take money from the poor to give to the rich. The rich, that is, who can afford to pay people to follow our arcane policymaking process and manipulate policy for the benefit of their paymasters.

We'd stand a better chance of achieving social goals if we clarified policymaking by targeting outcomes: meaningful outcomes that ordinary people can understand, engage with, and influence. One of the advantages of a Social Policy Bond regime is that it would do exactly that: target explicit, transparent, meaningful outcomes and reward people who achieve them. The complexity and obscurity of today's policymaking procedures work in favour only of the corrupt and the hypocritical.

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