June 18, 2001 2:28 PM   Subscribe

MOVE! Get out of our county! Get off our welfare rolls! Here, take this money and get out.

Tulare County, California, pays unemployed to move elsewhere, anywhere, and people love it. One woman says the grass is greener in Arkansas, of all places.

Sounds like a win-win, eh? (NYT link)
posted by msacheson (9 comments total)

There was another take on this story on, where the guy-who-thinks-he's-smarter-than-the-NYTIMES takes issue with the Times saying that the women in the lead photo is scraping by on a $616-a-month welfare check.

Mr. Smartertimes believes that since the photo clearly shows that she has a dishwasher and microwave oven, she is neither poor as the article claims, nor scraping by as the Times would have us believe.

Go figure.
posted by Rastafari at 3:09 PM on June 18, 2001

A microwave?!!? Another scammer getting fat off the teat of the welfare state! Microwaves cost thousands of dollars.
posted by Dirjy at 3:26 PM on June 18, 2001

One woman says the grass is greener in Arkansas, of all places.

Why do you presume it couldn't be? For unskilled laborers, I imagine Arkansas has a much more fertile job market than California. Cost of living is a lot lower in Arkansas than in California. The problem is that the poor don't have the means to move to the places where the opportunities are. So long as individuals have the choice to stay or leave, I suppose it actually is a good deal, both for the individual (who can find a better job and better living conditions) and the county (who pays the one-time cost and can stop worrying about caring for them). What's the problem? Is there a problem?

Really, I take more of an issue with your slam on Arkansas.
posted by daveadams at 3:41 PM on June 18, 2001

I knew the way I worded that (the grass is greener in Arkansas, of all places) was wrong, and I apologize. I just had to go with it, but that doesn't excuse my bias. Sorry daveadams, sorry Arkansas.

Maybe I can blame the media, which always portrays California as the promised land, the golden state, the manifest destiny. Granted, I fell for it, having moved from New York to California 7 years ago to the strains of the Grateful Dead's "Estimated Prophet".
posted by msacheson at 3:58 PM on June 18, 2001

Geez, Dave, I see from your great homepage (cute stuffed dog at the top) that I ragged on your home state, and that your last update was about the anniversary of Arkansas' statehood. Bad timing, eh? Again, sorry, and feel free to rag on New York and California.
posted by msacheson at 4:06 PM on June 18, 2001

Interesting concept, but it seems to be alright if the program was not expanded too much. Imagine if this were expanded nation wide. It could create another type of underclass. If taken too far I can see a class of American Gypsies, if you will, being created. I hope it does not lead to the situation that the “Okies” were in during the 1930s. Obviously, Californians in the year 2001 are in a much different historical context than the Oklahoma farmers of the Dust Bowl or the Roma people of Europe, but taken to it’s logical ends I think that the comparison is valid. This program seems like an embodiment of Ronald Ragan's assertion that people can "vote with their feet" and move from a poor economic area to an location where the economy is better. I guess it's the “Welfare State” meats "Sunny Side up Economics." Seems ok to me, as long as it stays temporary, local and is a means to empower people (much like welfare is/was intended to do) rather than a way to simply brush aside unwanted unemployed or poor people.
posted by Bag Man at 4:13 PM on June 18, 2001

I do think it's interesting that the article crows this has "saved taxpayers $3.5 million" ... when it clearly means Tulare taxpayers (or at least Californians). I'm curious what the receiving counties think about this, if they've been officially informed at all. It's salutary that they require a tight labor market at the destination, since this will probably work out to benefit both ends of the transaction, but as I said ... I'm curious. There were many jurisdictions in the 1980s that objected to so-called "welfare dumping" solely by the means of one state offering lower benefits than a neighbor.

There are also similarities to more local programs, such as Chicagoland efforts to match the urban poor with suburban jobs. Naturally, many of the suburbs have objected to the city "exporting" its poor.

Perhaps I've come across as too much of a skeptic. Economic opportunity often is plenty to attract an influx all on its own, and lack thereof often works to push people out. You could argue that an agnostic welfare/unemployment program could work to diminish these incentives, leaving people stuck in ... Tulare.
posted by dhartung at 5:20 PM on June 18, 2001

why don't we just get on with it and start sweeping the poor under our rugs?
posted by will at 6:16 PM on June 18, 2001

why don't we just get on with it and start sending the poor to death camps. Oops... did I say 'death camps?' I meant HAPPY CAMPS!
posted by Dirjy at 8:42 PM on June 18, 2001

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