What the Dependency Portal Changes

Over the weekend, two people whose opinions I value disagreed — with disconcerting vociferousness — with my objection to the innovation that the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity is calling “dependency portals.” When that happens, there are two possibilities: either my gut aversion was wrong and my reasoning was mere rationalization, or I’m not adequately explaining what I find objectionable.
Figuring out which is the truth is a matter of immediate importance.  If I was wrong, then I’d best begin walking statements back, because charging forward would be a lunge toward a trap on the prayer that it won’t go off.  And if I was right, then it’s critical to prevent such impressions as I heard this weekend from solidifying more broadly.
In summary, both people argued that it is entirely appropriate, if not obligatory, for the government to inform people that the law makes them eligible for various programs. Put differently, it would be inappropriate for the government to making hiding eligibility a budgeting consideration.
With two full nights and a day of thought (including contemplative time in the pew at church and philosophically fecund time pushing a lawn mower), I have to say that I’m inclined to march on.  The reasons organize into three statements.
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Warrington Faust
Warrington Faust
9 years ago

Justin,
The area for discussion is so broad, it is easy to get bogged down in details. And one might be entitled various opinions depending on the situation that obtains. In general, I think it is necessary for the government to elucidate its regulations and make them accessible to the public. A couple of examples. It confounds me that lawyers and CPA’s are required to penetrate the tax code. And every year a survey is done by calling the IRS “help line”. It is a rare year when the IRS scores more than 60% correct.
I am reminded of a time when I visited HUD for some clarification on one of their programs (private people could still do that, now you need to be a “not for profit”). I was told they couldn’t help me and that I would have to hire a “consultant”. The humor is that almost all of the “consultants” were under indictment. (Sen. Brooke was such a consultant. He was named as an “un-indicted co-conspirator” and now has a courthouse named after him).
Now, as to the letter to the welfare recipients, is that “cherry picking”? Of course it is. But, if the government was more open about its regulations, or if there were fewer regulations, it would not stand out.

Warrington Faust
Warrington Faust
9 years ago

Another note on a government regulation that perhaps should be publicized. A guy I know recently had his car totalled by his wife, he was advised by the insurance company that they would have to check if he owed child support. Sure enough, they found some that was 21 years old. That was deducted from his insurance proceeds. He reckons that the child would be 36 now, I wonder who got the money.
How many of us know of that regulation?
He lives in Massachusetts. The support order was from Rhode Island.

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