Going from Crime to Illness Means Big Growth for the Government Plantation


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.

  • Northern Exposure

    Virtually every criminal act can be considered the action of an ill mind. Therefore, no one is to blame for committing a crime…right? Quick, get me some government funded drugs and personnel to help me, while I continue to commit crimes.

  • Rhett Hardwick

    Probably not a crime, but another “right” gone wrong. Has anyone else noticed the signs on stores permitting “service animals” since they became covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act? Since I don’t allow dogs, it now seems about 25% of prospective tenants are claiming that they have a “Service animal’ in the form of a dog for “emotional support”. Much as I like them, I long ago learned about the disruption possible by a dog. I am not at all sure abut renters who require “emotional support”.
    PS, they are required to carry a copy of a “Doctor’s Note” showing their disability. Such note need not describe the “disability”. “Registration” does not require any such note and can be done on-line,, so “registration” as a “service animal” is meaningless,.

  • The Misfit

    The War on drugs that went all in on criminalization produced a 500% increase in prison population. And at significant cost. Would that not be a more apt example of your government plantation argument?