Evaluate this use of monetary incentives. Is the use of an economic payment in order to encourage a certain kind of behavior good policy?

 This site: http://www.projectprevention.org/ (Links to an external site.) is the web home for a controversial program, detailed in the article for DB7 the docs and stuff section of the site. 1. Browse the site and read the article. Summarize the program in about 200 words. 2. Evaluate this use of monetary incentives. Is the use of an economic payment in order to encourage a certain kind of behavior good policy? 3. Does it matter that the people taking the payment are drug users and, as such, cognitively impaired? Would you feel the same way if the payment was for sterilization of dogs or cats? Explain carefully. Posted on Thu, Jul. 20, 2006 Program pays addicts to use birth control By John Shultz McClatchy Newspapers (MCT) KANSAS CITY, Mo. – From where Barbara Harris sits, drug addicts give up a lot of things. Procreation should be one of them. The founder and driving force behind the controversial Project Prevention is on a 5,000-mile road trip to bring the group’s distinctive offer to the nation’s drug users: Get on long-term birth control. Maybe get sterilized. Either way, get $300 from her group. “People say we don’t have a right to tell them how many children they can have,” Harris said Tuesday as she coaxed the nonprofit group’s lumbering RV through the narrow side streets of Kansas City. “I disagree.” Her inspiration: four children she adopted, one after the other, after they were born in successive years to a drug-addicted mother. “My children didn’t deserve to be given drugs for nine months,” Harris said. “No innocent child deserves that.” Critics worry that the program is racist, disproportionately focusing on minority women, and preys on people ill-prepared to make life-altering decisions, or those easily swayed by an offer of fast cash. The program ignores the real problem, said Lynn Paltrow, executive director of the National Advocates for Pregnant Women and a longtime Harris adversary. “She makes it all about individual blame,” Paltrow said. “She creates the mythology that if you could just get a certain group of people to stop procreating, some social and economic problems would go away. … That’s the same economic argument that was used to justify eugenics.” Harris likens her cause to that of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, arguing that no one would take issue with paying alcoholics to forgo driving. “Drunk drivers have innocent victims; these women do, too,” she said. “I want to be a household name like MADD.” Harris’ message has been largely the same since she started the program in California as CRACK, or Children Requiring a Caring Kommunity, in 1998. Funding comes from private donors, including conservative mogul Richard Scaife and Houston venture capitalist Jim Woodhill. The top donor remains anonymous, Harris said. The group has chapters in 27 states and has paid rewards in 39 states. And Harris wants the group to grow. That’s the whole point of this year’s 16-city trek. As of this week, Project Prevention overall claims to have paid incentives to nearly 1,900 drug abusers – all but a handful of them women, most of them white. Two hundred signed up this year, and the group wants to finish the year with at least 2,006 paid clients. Payment is issued only after the group receives paperwork proving the client followed through. She scoffs at accusations that the project is racist, noting that her adopted children and husband are black. Much of the public scrutiny has focused on the group’s offer to pay incentives for sterilization, something about 700 women have done, the organization says. But Project Prevention pays the same amount for long-term birth control. Addicts who agree to take Depo-Provera, a birth-control shot administered every three months, can stay on the drug and receive $300 annually. “We tell them the best financial gain is not tubal ligation,” Harris said. “We don’t have a preference.” Louise Melling, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s reproductive freedom project, calls the deal potentially coercive either way. “Creating financial incentives to alter people’s reproductive decisions isn’t the way we should go about helping people,” said Melling. Harris said most of the clients are eligible for Medicaid. Most hear about the offer through fliers and from social service locations such as homeless shelters, Harris said. They have to call a toll-free number to register. The group stirred up controversy locally in 2000, when it bought billboard space advertising its offer. Lamar Advertising voluntarily pulled the ads. Tuesday was Project Prevention’s first personal visit to Kansas City, and Harris brought her four adopted children along for the ride. Harris wove the RV back and forth around the streets for a few hours. Every half-block or so, she goaded her teens to hop out into the heat and hang orange fliers on telephone poles. When curious porch-dwellers approached, Harris hopped out to chat. Not necessarily about them, but about someone they might know with a problem. The first women she approached were readily open. “I would do it,” said Shelia Mitchell, who described herself as a 49-year-old crack user. “It’s a chance that someone will help me, instead of just say, `I told you so.'” Her friend, Carlotta Sallard, 53, also supported the project. “We need to have some of our young women on drugs to stop having babies,” she said. Harris said she was unconcerned with what women who agree to the deal ultimately do with the money. “That’s their choice,” she said. “But the babies don’t have a choice.” Paltrow, the advocate for pregnant women, said such efforts can take the focus off fighting drug addiction and providing treatment. Harris stresses that she would like to help the women more. The group gets them referrals to drug treatment programs. She said they’ve even offered to fly a few across the country to enroll in treatment. — © 2006, The Kansas City Star. Visit The Star Web edition on the World Wide Web at http://www.kcstar.com Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services. Post reply