Incentives Everywhere

After this post on incentives, where I observed that perhaps 99% of all government policy failed on incentives issues, I thought about going a whole week and discussing every story in the context of failed or mismatched incentives.  Then I thought about all the time I had spent building up my readership only to chase everyone away in just one week, so I will defer that idea.

BUT, can anyone tell me what incentives these people have to go work and support themselves?

What are people who receive FEMA assistance doing to help
themselves? That's the question NBC 15's Andrea Ramey asked those who
have been staying for free in hotel rooms after they moved out of FEMA
supplied travel trailers. What she found out is there are some who are
doing very little.

The scorching heat puts many at the Quality Inn poolside, but for
Gwenester Malone, she chooses to beat the heat by setting her
thermostat to sixty degrees. Malone's room for the past three months,
along with three meals daily, have all been paid for by taxpayers.

"Do you work?" asked NBC 15's Andrea Ramey.

"No. I'm not working right now," said Malone.

Malone says she can't drive and it's too hot outside to find work
within walking distance. "Since the storm, I haven't had any energy or
pep to go get a job, but when push comes to shove, I will," said Malone.

Just a few blocks away, Kelley Christian also stays at a hotel for
free. She says she's not taking advantage of her situation, but admits
it's easy to do. "It's too easy. You know, once you're there, you don't
have to pay rent," said Christian. "I kept putting it off and putting
it off and now, I'm tired of putting it off."


  1. Zach:

    And remember, even though she pays no taxes, she gets just as much say as you do about how much you pay in taxes.

  2. Captain Obviousness:

    I'd say most people strive to do more with their life than live on the dole in a crappy motel - that alone is incentive enough for most people. But for the people who ARE happy to have that type of life, you're right, there's no incentive to find work.

  3. CB:

    Living in South Florida we see FEMA in action after every major hurricane. After Wilma FEMA paid (reimbursed) residents for generators, chainsaws and shop vacs. I know nieghbors and friends that still have those freebies in a box in thier garage - never needed them but they were free. Shame on them.

    However, I must applaud the recent changes in FEMA philosphy. The head of FEMA went public a few weeks ago on various "Hurricane preparation" shows and announced that FEMA WILL NOT be handing out free ice after storms and will not be helping people in general within 72 hours of the storm passing. His message was load and clear - you need to prepare to take care of your family for three days after the storm - don't wait for the government to take care of you. (of course this statement excludes dire medical and other special needs folks).

    The lines after Hurricane Wilma for free ice, water and rationings from FEMA started to form within 5 hours of the storm passing. People couldn't survive five hours???? No, they just wanted to make sure they got thier share of free stuff.

    My point is this is a rare example of a government agency telling citizens that they need to do more to take care of themselves and rely less on government hand outs. Guess he won't be running for President any time soon.

    There are two people in this world: victims and survivors.

  4. Jim Collins:

    How much to you want to bet that if they are ever forced to leave that hotel, they will file a claim for disability on the basis that they were too traumatized by what they went through with the hurricane and that is why they can't work.

  5. Mike:


    Either that, or she would claim that the eviction was somehow socially motivated, and therefore she was being discriminated against.

    I pray that this woman is in the minority (and I will give the benefit of the doubt to that effect) but every time I read a story like this, it just makes me shake my head. Welfare mentality anyone?

  6. yoshidad:

    Where's the indignation about corporate welfare? A single (failed) weapons system like "Star Wars" costs far more than all the formaldehyde-polluted FEMA trailers put together. The U.S. continues to spend more on its military than the rest of the world combined. (Because we "love" peace.)

    I know there are plenty of people who are lazy, shiftless and not nearly white enough, but is this kind of lazy shiftless thinking -- clucking our tongues at the victims of a hurricane -- really the best of what we have to offer for public policy discussions?

    This is the very definition of straining at a gnat while swallowing a camel.

  7. Fay:

    I agree with yoshidad. There is indeed a small minority of people who commit welfare fraud types of crimes. That doesn't mean we just leave storm victims to die in their own filth, a la Katrina. Emergency management is one of the things government is FOR. Corporate welfare costs exponentially more taxpayer money than individual welfare fraud ever could, yet it barely gets a blip on the "libertarian" radar. Ugh.

  8. Jim Collins:

    How about getting your facts straight? Star Wars wasn't a "single" weapons system. It was a group of systems that were meant to achieve a common goal. Several of these systems worked and are in use today. If you look into the history of the Internet you will find that it came from DARPAnet, which was used for Star Wars. Technology develpoed for Star Wars is in common use today. Your so called "corporate welfare" has helped more people than welfare ever will. All of the money spent on these projects didn't just go into somebody's pocket, to dissappear from sight. A large amount of it went to pay the people who worked on those projects. Money that flowed into local economies. How much of it was paid back to the government in the form of corporate and personal income taxes?

  9. James B.:

    Corporate welfare costs exponentially more taxpayer money than individual welfare fraud ever could, yet it barely gets a blip on the "libertarian" radar. Ugh.

    Yeah, I never hear L(l)ibertarians complain about the Ethanol boondogle, Gov't funded sports stadiums, agricultural price supports, the Ex-Im Bank, giveways to relocating corporations. Bunch of hypocrites.

  10. GU:

    Both personal and corporate welfare suck. However, if you look at the federal budget, much more is being paid for personal welfare (SS, medicare, medicaid, welfare, worker's comp., etc.) than corporate welfare OR defense spending.

    Yoshidad is simply wrong

  11. Brad Warbiany:


    Those programs aren't welfare, they're "entitlements"! ;-)

    In all seriousness, though, we need to consider that corporate welfare can not be entirely counted by what money the government doles out of the treasury to corporations. You also need to consider the level to which they stack the playing field in favor of some corporations over others based upon regulations. Those regulations erode economic growth. While that won't ever be counted in our taxes, we're certainly paying for it.

  12. Fay:

    "The Iraq war and the Afghanistan war are not part of the defense budget; they are appropriations."

    Convenient, especially considering that Iraq is the greatest corporate welfare giveaway of all time.

    Also convenient is lumping in Social Security and Medicare with indigent unemployment and welfare benefits.

    Carry on.

  13. Mark:

    Regardless, I question the morality of those that want to raise taxes to pay for more compassion like this. The reason why these people are immoral is that they do not want to raise THEIR taxes to pay for this compassion, but rather the other persons. That such behavior is not even called into question is just a sign of the times.

  14. John:

    "The government of the United States is a definite government, confined to specified objects. It is not like the state governments, whose powers are more general. Charity is no part of the legislative duty of the government."
    -- James Madison

  15. mostly cajun:

    Katrina: The gift that keeps on giving.

    Over here on the OTHER side of Louisiana where we were hit by the hurricane that nobody remembers, Hurricane Rita, the government is more of an impediment to recovery than any other factor. New government-mandated rules and regulations raised the cost of building new homes and repairing old ones.

    There's much more positive to the story of survivors of BOTH hurricanes, but you won't read those stories because it's hard to tuck in the obligatory "Blame Bush" lines in a story about people getting out and getting on with life.

    Lost a house, but survived Hurricane Rita

  16. Tony Edwards:

    In the British Virgin Islands, after Hugo, in which I lost my home, an old wooden boat, there was no help from FEMA, or anyone else. In the US Virgin Islands, there was. For months and years after there were blue tarpaulins visible from miles away. In the BVI, there were simply a lot of people, individuals mostly who just got down and did what was needed. As a "for instance" the local electricity company, which had much of it's distribution network destroyed, had every man jack of their staff, from the cleaners down to the managing director out in the field, clearing and replacing the network from long before dawn to long after dark. All of the female office staff spent their days organising food and drink and getting it out to the men in the field. Result, within four weeks, 90% of the houses and businesses were with power again, and within about 90 days, just bout everything was back to normal. Similarly with the many damaged or destroyed roofs, they were all replaced or repaired within months.
    Not having any nanny to hold your hand proved to be a great reason to take care of yourself.