Junior Ganymede
We endeavor to give satisfaction

“‘Best’ is enemy to ‘good'”

October 21st, 2009 by Vader

So Voltaire pointed out in La Beguele.

Nowhere is this Nirvana Fallacy better illustrated than in government policy and its consequent unintended consequences.

What got me thinking about this was this story. It’s a heartwarming report on the Church donating $1.5 million to help relocate a homeless shelter in Ogden. The Church spokesman rightly notes that the Church welfare system is not unusually adept at providing housing and supporting community homeless shelters is more effective. All good so far as it goes.

But the article contains this disquieting note:

Godfrey sat with Cheydene Hudspeth, a mother of eight children who has been living at the shelter since May 20.

Godfrey referred to Hudspeth during the ceremony as someone who is typical of the problems St. Anne’s faces these days.

Allan Heiskanen, a member of St. Anne’s board of directors, said Hudspeth has been in the shelter so long because federal housing requirements say she has to be put in a home with at least five bedrooms.

“Well, five-bedroom rental units don’t exist,” he said, “so what do you do?”

Five bedrooms for a family of eight would be best, so the government prohibits the mere good of putting the family in a smaller rental for the time being.

My own limited experience with administering the Church’s welfare program is that the government was sometimes the biggest obstacle to doing welfare right.

Comments (2)
Filed under: Deseret Review | Tags: , ,
October 21st, 2009 08:55:18

John Mansfield
October 21, 2009

Could you elaborate that last sentence a bit?

October 21, 2009

I dasn’t say anything specific about the situations or my role, as it would be a liberty.

But, in very general terms, the government puts fewer and different conditions on its assistance, which kind of undercut ours.

And IRS has a nasty tendency to regard cash assistance as salary, and try to tax it. The Church tries to avoid giving cash assistance for that and other reasons (such as that cash is fungible) but sometimes there is no other way.

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