“Tyranny of Kindness is a mystery story that finally answers the question: why do the poor in the United States stay poor? With her journalist’s zeal for following the money and her depth of experience as a former welfare mother, Theresa Funiciello shows us who really benefits from the government industry premised on helping the poor, and tells us the personal stories behind the statistics. No one should try to assess, change, or understand the human and financial realities of government helping programs without reading Tyranny of Kindness.”Gloria Steinem
Tyranny of Kindness
Dismantling the Welfare System to End Poverty in America
Atlantic Monthly Press
978-0-87113-578-0 • $14.00 • Paperback • Aug. 1994
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.
Funiciello’s own welfare story, as well as those of 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 the humiliating battle with
the labyrinthine social services bureaucracy, which the author believes has
subverted the entire welfare enterprise.
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.
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 adminstrations 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.
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.