Supplemental Security Income, a poverty program aimed at assisting poor families with disabled children, offers a perverse incentive for keeping children from learning, writes New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof. The incentive: a monthly $698 check for each child considered disabled.
Four decades ago, 1% of poor children were considered disabled. The number is 8% percent today. That's over 1.2 million, according to Kristof, fueling demand for a $9 billion program.
According to Kristof, parents are pulling their children out of literacy classes so their families can continue to collect disability checks. Additionally, the program also offers bigger checks for single women with children, giving an incentive to not marry. Doing well in school and seeking a stable lifestyle threatens the very income many depend on.
"This is painful for a liberal to admit," Kristof writes, "but conservatives have a point when they suggest that America's safety net can sometimes entangle people in a soul-crushing dependency."
Kristof's suggestion: invest more money in early childhood education. It's a cheaper solution, he writes, than adult incarceration, and will help children to pull themselves out of poverty.
Via the New York Times.