Why pay police when you can pay criminals?
That seems to be the question and the logic behind a District of Columbia proposal approved unanimously by the district council on Tuesday that would pay residents a stipend for not committing any crimes.
Back in the day, we used to call that “protection money,” and it was usually collected by a couple of burly gentlemen who would just hate to see anything happen to your shop.
But the D.C. council has chosen to be proactive and get the jump on the bad guys by just tossing its lunch money out there even before there’s a demand.
The actual program proposed, according to the Associated Press, would identify up to 200 residents per year who are likely to commit a crime or, in some cases, to become a crime victim.
The proposal would require the participants to undergo behavioral therapy and comply with other programs. If they stay out of trouble, the District of Colombia would pay up.
The exact amount is not mentioned in the current form of the bill, but it is based on a similar program in Richmond, California. In that city, participants can steal up to $9,000 per year from taxpayers without even using a gun.
Democratic Councilman Kenyan McDuffie, who wrote the D.C. proposal, said paying stipends to people to keep out of trouble “pales in comparison” to the cost of incarceration or dealing with crime victims.
What he leaves out is the cost of all those ancillary programs like mandatory behavioral therapy that will be piled on top of the cost to taxpayers of annual stipends. The program is estimated to cost $4.9 million over four years, only $1.8 million of that going toward stipends.
The mayor of D.C. has not yet committed to funding the program.
In Richmond, murders have declined 77 percent since 2007, but there are no statistics indicating how much the annual stipends have contributed to that decrease.
But why let facts and figures get in the way of a multimillion-dollar government program?
In fact, why not raise this to the next level of absurdity and pay politicians for not wasting money?
I’m sure we could shave our budget by adding monthly payments for all our elected and unelected officials. For example, if a politician goes a month without spending taxpayer money on new office furniture, we could reward him with money for a new limousine.
If we play our cards right, we could eventually spend our way into a budget surplus.