A Check for Doing Good
Should people be paid for good behavior?
Brought to you by Liberty Mutual's
The Responsibility Project
New York Times reporter Julie Bosman writes that a New York City program paying cash to poor families “to encourage good behavior and self-sufficiency” will be shut down because two years of the handouts have had “only modest effects” on the lives of the recipients.
Privately-funded but government- run, “Opportunity NYC Family Rewards” has been paying parents “for things like going to the dentist ($100) or holding down a full-time job ($150 per month),” Bosman says. Children were also paid $25 to $50 a month for regular school attendance and $600 for passing a high school exam. Participants earned an average of $6,000 a year.
Critics say the program was “condescending” and questioned whether it was “wise to pay people for simple behavior like going to parent-teacher conferences or doctor’s appointments.” But Brooklyn participant Janice Dudley — who earned $7,610 along with her 16-year-old daughter — told The Times the payments give children “the motivation to want to go to school because they know they’re going to get something back.” Now that it’s over, Ms. Dudley said “We might have a little problem next year when we don’t have any money on the card.”
Should people be paid for good behavior? Does doing so undermine personal responsibility?