Marc Munroe Dion picks up on what I’ve been calling “the government plantation” in his latest “Livin’ and Dion” column about the budget consequence of recasting drug use from a crime to an illness. Noting that a person who comes across a homeless beggar could feed him or her with a $10 sandwich, but:
If you ran a non-profit agency, you’d need an outreach worker to find the homeless guy, an intake worker to make sure the homeless guy was really hungry, a case manager to find out what kind of sandwich he likes, a nutritional expert to make to make sure he got a healthy sandwich, a coordinator to introduce the outreach worker to the case manager, a facilitator to go into the store and buy the sandwich, and a five-member board of directors to approve the $10 sandwich, which would be referred to in all documents as a “nutritional expenditure for indigent substance abuse-affected client.”
At all times, the homeless guy eating the sandwich would be referred to as a “client.” Total cost of the sandwich? $65,000, not including benefits, and pensions.
Rhode Island’s state government is deliberately working to transform our economy into one built on this very model. Declare some benefit to be a right, find a way to collect money from the rest of the economy and other states (via the federal government), and fill out a massive bureaucracy with government-satellite non-profit agencies with plenty of well-paying jobs whose holders will tend to support the system politically and to fund the necessary political action through their labor union dues.