Tyranny of Kindness: Dismantling the Welfare System to End Poverty in America

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Atlantic Monthly Press, 1993 - Social Science - 340 pages
Tyranny of Kindness is an authoritative indictment of America's welfare system by a woman who knows its failings all too well. Theresa Funiciello, a one-time welfare mother whose firsthand experience with the "endless nightmare" of the system propelled her into advocacy, exposes the root causes of our present debacle and offers a sane, viable, and cost-efficient alternative in this important and timely book. Ms. Funiciello's own welfare story, as well as those of the many others she has come in contact with, forms the emotional, heartrending backdrop of this powerful book. Giving us a palpable sense of the hard day-to-day realities of living on welfare, she tells us of the struggle to survive on sub-poverty-level assistance and the impossible choices it forces between food, clothing, health care, and shelter. In all of these stories we hear of the humiliating battle with the labyrinthine social services bureaucracy, which the author believes has subverted the entire welfare enterprise. The problem is that the social service sector has been transmogrified into a huge, self-serving, ever-expanding business in which the poor and their plight have tragically become lost. A single fact stands out - that while the moneys set aside for social services have grown tremendously over the last decades, the poor are actually receiving less. Ms. Funiciello's approach here turns to that of a hard-hitting investigative reporter. Taking on individuals, public agencies, and private charity organizations, she details the many ways money for poor people is diverted to fatten the bureaucracy, how so little is accomplished, how billions of dollars are wasted. It is the author's contention that the main benefactors of the present system are the middle-class professionals who run it and the politicians shagging dollars and votes. But Tyranny of Kindness goes beyond an analysis of the problems. Reviewing the history of assistance for the poor in this country, she revises a theory that was popular during the Nixon and Johnson administrations and that is now practiced in many parts of the world. Ms. Funiciello's argument in favor of bypassing the bureaucracy to give monetary assistance directly to the poor, known as guaranteed income, is closely and passionately argued and makes eminent sense. At a time when welfare reform is being pushed to the top of our national agenda, Tyranny of Kindness will redefine the terms in the ongoing public debate.

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TYRANNY OF KINDNESS: Dismantling the Welfare System to End Poverty in America

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A welfare-mother-turned-activist's cri de coeur for ending poverty in America—by changing our attitudes toward the poor and dismantling the welfare system. Funiciello was on welfare in N.Y.C. for ... Read full review

Tyranny of kindness: dismantling the welfare system to end poverty in America

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Funiciello writes with authority--she has been a welfare mother and has lived the horrors described in her book. Rising from "dependency'' to become a welfare rights activist, government insider, and ... Read full review

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