Thursday, December 09, 2010

The Poor As Lab Rats

People who are oppressed have always been used as lab rats, things to be experimented on rather than real people. Usually those doing the experimenting have a mild twinge of shame and try to keep the experiments secret (Tuskegee) so I guess it might be shocking to the un or less oppressed to see that experimenting done publicly.
For example:

In NYC, a program called Homebase that helps the nearly homeless stay in their homes is using a lottery system to decide who gets help and who doesn't and then tracking the results to find out if the helped are less likely to become homeless than the unhelped.

I know, gentle readers, it's shocking, horrible, awful, that for the sake of scientific results they would leave the fate of the desperate up to luck. Well, maybe it's not so shocking for those of us who play the social services lottery on a regular basis. It's almost always a crapshoot as to whether an agency is going to give you assistance. Did you fill out the gazzilion forms properly? Do you have the right proof of your circumstances? (Lemme tell you, proving that you are actually homeless is damn near close to impossible. And if you can prove you are homeless, you're actually penalized for it when it comes to food stamps because you have no verifiable living expenses).

Homebase is just being upfront about about the randomness of who gets assistance. It's still despicable that just needing help doesn't actually get it for you, but I think I prefer the straight up lottery system to the clandestine methods.

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