Social Services: Chutzpah, in the First Degree

Welfare administrators are frequently described as impersonal bureaucrats with no sensitivity to the personal needs of their clients. Welfare recipients are sometimes categorized as underprivileged persons who lack the intellectual or social skills to accommodate to modern urban life. It is not always thus.

Take, for example, the relationship between the New York City Department of Social Services and a relief client named David Davis. With supporting testimony from three doctors that his wife had asthma, he applied to the department for an air conditioner. Although 99% of the city's relief recipients do not have air conditioning, officials decided that...

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