The city of Chelsea, Massachusetts is running an experiment to see the impact of giving money to low-income residents without any control over the spending.

The Boston Globe ran a front-page story by Shirley Leung in its Sunday edition about the Chelsea program. The article is worth your time. There is always a need to test new ideas and methods of delivering services in an ever-changing society.

Bill Gates, Henry Rogers, Thomas Edison, Jeff Bezos, and countless other people have questioned the established order of delivering services. This small experiment in Chelsea has the possibility of upending the way we deliver a portion of our social services to people in need.

In a nutshell, the city of Chelsea is going to give direct cash to a small group of low-income city residents. The source of the funds will be a combination of COVID-19 federal relief funds, the United Way of Massachusetts Bay funds, and Massachusetts General Hospital's donation. The Shah Family Foundation has donated $1 million to the project. Researchers from Harvard's Kennedy School of Government are working with the Shah Family Foundation to measure the results of the Chelsea effort.

I'm enthusiastic to see the results of this study.

There was a time when people lined up for government cheese, peanut butter, and other food until the food stamps program was developed. Today the folks in need of food assistance go to the grocery store. The overhead of government workers handing out surplus food has been abolished and the highly efficient supermarket industry is delivering the products.

Maybe we don't need a government bureaucracy of highly-paid individuals delivering and overseeing cash to poor people these days.

Chris McCarthy is the host of The Chris McCarthy Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from 10 a.m. to noon. Contact him at and follow him on Twitter @Chris_topher_Mc. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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