The 'meanness threshold': Ernest Dumas on politics of punishing the poor | Arkansas Blog

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

The 'meanness threshold': Ernest Dumas on politics of punishing the poor

Posted By on Tue, Mar 6, 2018 at 9:30 AM

There's an argument that the Arkansas legislature should defeat Gov. Asa Hutchinson's Human Services Medicaid budget: It's too mean. But the debate will be about whether it is mean enough.

If you read nothing else in the Arkansas Times this week, read Ernest Dumas' account of the new punitive and inefficient "work rule" for Medicaid and the even more punishing cut that, as yet, the Trump administration has not approved. Excerpt:

There is no evidence that the carrot and stick will work. The world has centuries of failing experience with forcing “able-bodied” but reputedly lazy people to find and hold regular jobs. England’s poor law, enacted in 1601, required communities to collect taxes and distribute aid to the poor but only to those who were totally impotent to support themselves. The “able bodied” got no help. Deciding who was not able bodied proved hard—those disabled only by severe physical problems or those with mental incapacities or illnesses? And what if there were no jobs to be had that they could do?

Two centuries later, the Brits tried other rules, like “nobody who tipples in the alehouse will get poor relief.”

We have sharper bureaucrats now. The Department of Human Services has come up with a raft of rules defining who is worthy of the state’s humanity. To keep insurance, a poor woman must get on her computer and make a detailed electronic report to DHS every two months, including proof of 80 hours of “work activity” every month or that she has other conditions that would exempt her, like pregnancy or disabilities that make it impossible to work. No jobs you can do is not an excuse. If you miss the threshold a couple of months, your coverage is canceled and you can’t get it again until the next year, even if you land a good job.

Bureaucratic hurdles, a hassle for the most industrious people, will be enormous. They have driven tens of thousands off the rolls the past two years. You have not encountered a bureaucracy until you deal with the Department of Human Services.

But Governor Hutchinson says not to worry. The worthy will get jobs this time, keep their health care and hold their heads higher. 



Tags: , , ,


Favorite

Comments (5)

Showing 1-5 of 5

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-5 of 5

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

  • Trump's 'deal' on wall and dreamers is no bargain

    Donald Trump unveiled his great plan today — temporary protection for "dreamers" in return for  $5.7 billion worth of wall — but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has already explained why it falls short and some on is side are already crying "no amnesty."
    • Jan 19, 2019
  • An open line for reproductive justice

    Rain drove the speakers inside to the old Senate chamber at the state Capitol, but the rally for reproductive justice went on today as does the fight in a state where the majority who assemble at the Capitol most often act to restrict women's medical rights. The line is open on this and other topics.
    • Jan 19, 2019
  • Cotton, Boozman propose estate tax bonanza for billionaires

    Tom Cotton and John Boozman are dishonestly touting legislation that is a bonanza for the super wealthy as help for small businesses and farmers.
    • Jan 19, 2019
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Is Arkansas in or out on Kobach voter data effort?

    The Washington Post has published a map that counts Arkansas as among states that will "partially comply" with a sweeping request for voter data by the so-called election integrity commission set up by Donald Trump in an effort to cast doubt on Hillary Clinton's 3 million-vote popular defeat of him in 2016.
    • Jul 2, 2017
  • Greenbrier's paddling of student protester goes worldwide

    The paddling of Greenbrier High School students who joined in te national school walkout Wednesday has produced headlines worldwide.
    • Mar 17, 2018
  • Rep. Mary Bentley's website now supports gay rights

    Somebody has cybersquatted on Republican Rep. Mary Bentley's website, replacing her messaging with a call for equal rights for LGBTQ people.
    • Jul 18, 2017

Slideshows

Most Recent Comments

 

© 2019 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation