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Tyranny of Kindness: Dismantling the Welfare System to End Poverty in America Paperback – September 1, 1994


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 340 pages
  • Publisher: Atlantic Monthly Press; Reprint edition (September 1, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0871135787
  • ISBN-13: 978-0871135780
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,163,366 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A former welfare mother who became a welfare organizer and later a government anti-poverty bureaucrat, Funiciello offers an impassioned indictment of the current welfare system. Though her account sometimes bogs down in redundancy and overly personal commentary, Funiciello convincingly describes a brutal, capricious welfare bureaucracy in New York and demonstrates how the voices of the poor are generally ignored. Especially deft are her dissections of the practices of the agencies receiving grants from much-praised charities like Second Harvest and the New York Times 's "Neediest Cases" Fund. Arguing that welfare does not cause dependency, she points out that there are few criticisms of the essentially similar program of Social Security survivors benefits. Given the current zeitgeist, which supports the requirement that welfare recipients must work, Funiciello's forceful argument for a guaranteed income for all (first proposed by President Nixon) is unlikely to garner support.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

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 adviser, she is a crusader with credentials. Her book chronicles and decries costly, inefficient, self-serving public and private bureaucracies that administer welfare programs, food banks, and homeless shelters. She combines heart-wrenching anecdotes of suffering poor people with muckraking journalism that details fraud, waste, and abuse in administration. The relentless accumulation of detail bolsters her contention that the real beneficiaries are those who get paid to administer the programs or who get tax deductions for donations, not poor people. Her forceful recommendation to replace the existing system with a guaranteed income program (modeled on Milton Friedman's negative income tax) will generate a firestorm of protest from vested interests. Despite being overlong and poorly focused in places, the writing is snappy and grips the reader from start to finish. Similar to Charles Murray's Losing Ground ( LJ 10/1/84) and Ken Auletta's The Underclass ( LJ 5/1/82) in its disgust with the present welfare system, this author parts company in its prescription of income security. Strongly recommended for all libraries. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 2/1/93.
- Grace Franklin, Columbus Metropolitan Lib.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Julia Stapp on April 7, 2011
Format: Paperback
While I agree that the author raises valid points about dealing with the welfare bureaucracy and the need for streamlining the process to make it more responsive to the needs of applicants, I found her shrill sense of entitlement to be very off-putting. If at any point in the book she expressed appreciation, gratitude, or even minor thanks for what is presently being done -- without which many families would have absolutely nothing at all -- I missed it. Because the available help and resources do not meet her seemingly quite high standards does not mean that they are not worthy of appreciation. Her points about the need for change are well taken, but she says little about personal initiative, and a great deal about nothing being good enough. I have read a good deal on this topic and I am very sympathetic to the plight of people trapped in the welfare system, but I must admit that this writer's "gimmie and make it good, and then add more on top of that" attitude was a turn-off. Try "The Myth Of The Welfare Queen" for a read that will make you want to volunteer to get involved and help these people immediately.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By reverof007@aol.com on January 28, 1999
Format: Paperback
Funiciello has spent time on both sides of the welfare system and within which found an undeniable constant...the desparate need for change. In her informative masterpiece, she creates three short books. A personal account as a welfare receipient, the reality of non-profit organizations, and a look at possibilities in welfare reform. Each section is written with remarkable insight and is teeming with pertinent information. The most inspiring trait to this piece is that Funiciello, even at the darkest of moments, remains a glimmer of hope for the men, women and children struggling to survive in the most powerful country in the world.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Ben Weiss (benweiss@earthlink.net) on May 4, 1998
Format: Paperback
Theresa Funiciello has experienced the welfare system from virtually every possible angle and has a perspective that no other "expert" can possibly match. Whether you consider yourself left-wing or right-wing politically, you need to read this book before expressing an opinion on welfare issues.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 15, 1998
Format: Paperback
Shortly...I enjoyed this book enormously. Ms. Funiciello is a concise and clear writer. She writes about welfare from the recipient's point of view, revealing the absurdities and cruelties without getting sesationalist. A very good read.
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