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Memories of the 28th Century

Political Cultures

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This morning I saw this video about Utah saving money and housing homeless people by simply giving the homeless apartments. It certainly makes sense, and it would be effective and cost effective, but I doubt that we will see much more of this, because many people make lots of money off the homeless; although it may be different in different places.

Here in Massachusetts most social services are provided by contractors that are paid according to how many cases they handle. I don't know rates, but the more people they handle the more the social service company makes. Actually housing homeless people would be a huge money loser for them, and they are the biggest player in social services, so they lobby and probably get the legislation they want, because they are the "experts".

One of the few situations where there is a real attempt to house the homeless involves buildings owned by the people recruiting homeless people. They charge market rents and have restrictions on the use of the space. They don't keep tenants long, because they aren't getting people to invest in their living situation, and the rents are too high to attract people who are likely to take advantage of the housing and improve their lives in other ways.

I suppose the difference between what Utah did and how Massachusetts handles similar situations says a lot about the political cultures. Here in Massachusetts politics are for the benefit of those who are in power somehow, providing them money and favors, so that they can stay in power. Apparently in Utah politics are to provide services to the people. Utah has problems, and I certainly wouldn't want to transfer the culture here, but it would be nice if tax revenues were used for the benefit of the people, rather than for the benefit of those who are in office.

Although they may seem very different; this situation is very similar to casino gambling here in Massachusetts. The present law allows three entities to have gambling in "resort casinos". The three licenses were granted to corporations that have people who are friends with politicians. The rational way to have gambling is to allow any suitable business, restaurant, bar, store, etc., to set up gambling, if they wish. Some places would go for gambling, while others would not. But a reasonable opportunity for everyone would be much better than providing the opportunity to only three entities.

I have a personal preference for government by and for the people, rather than government by and for a few people, but I'm just a classical liberal.