A person making policies for a government program to benefit people in unfortunate circumstances can come across many difficulties in the process of designing it.
Say the policymaker is designing a program to entice alcoholics to quit drinking. He is planning on giving a reward to the people who quit drinking and stay clean for two years.
The policymaker has to make some sort of rule that will make the program apply only to alcoholics who have been alcoholics for, say, 5 years; that way people who have been drinking for a month can’t sneak into the program even when they haven’t been avid alcoholics. Then he has to consider another fact: what if a person claims to be an alcoholic but they drink a beer a day? The policymaker wants the program to be designed for strong alcoholics so, he makes another clause that states that people who drink more than three liters of alcohol per day with an alcohol percent (ABV: alcohol by volume) of 30% or more can apply to the program. Finally, he needs to establish a reward for those who actually complete the program and are alcohol-free for two years. It needs to be a reward high enough that will give people an incentive to commit to it, but not too high that people will become (or continue to be if they’ve been drinking for 3 years and want to quite) alcoholics in order to obtain the reward money later. A reward of $15,000 is decided on.
A program like this is very well meaning, but will it actually work? Will people go back to drinking after the two years have passed? Will people starting drinking more so that they can get the reward? There are so many facts to consider.
Besides, whatever happened to consequences? Consequences can be a key fact in many alcoholics’ lives. Their families, jobs, health, and lives may become destroyed as a result of their addiction.
Whatever the case, policymakers have a tough job; but does it really pay off?