Tag Archives: Vouching

Incentivized Guardians

Tyler recently reminded me of a key institution design problem:

There is an entire category of American adults being denied almost all of their basic legal rights: to hold a job, choose a residence, determine their health care, enter into contracts and even decide what to do with their own body. These are adults under legal guardianship — a court-imposed process, in Ohio as elsewhere, “by which a person is relieved of the right to make personal life decisions and another is appointed to make those decisions on that person’s behalf.” (more)

Claiming that some people can’t be trusted to run their own lives, legal judges give other people great power to run their lives for them:

In the United States, a million and a half adults are under the care of guardians, either family members or professionals, who control some two hundred and seventy-three billion dollars in assets, … states do not keep complete figures on guardianship cases—statutes vary widely—and, in most jurisdictions, the court records are sealed. …

In Nevada, as in many states, anyone can become a guardian by taking a course, as long as he or she has not been convicted of a felony or recently declared bankruptcy. …
court placed no limits on guardians’ fees, as long as they appeared “reasonable.” … a quarter of guardianship petitions in New York were brought by nursing homes and hospitals, sometimes as a means of collecting on overdue bills. … Approximately ten per cent of people older than sixty-five are thought to be victims of “elder abuse” …

When a friend tried to take him shopping, [his guardian] Parks prevented the excursion because she didn’t know the friend. [His wife] Rennie [North] had also tried to get more clothes. “I reminded ward that she has plenty of clothing in her closet,” Parks wrote. “I let her know that they are on a tight budget.” The Norths’ estate was charged $180 for the conversation. (more)

428,000 children are in foster care in the United States. 135,000 children are adopted in the United States each year. (more)

If you worry about the accountability and wisdom of government officials who regulate what ordinary folks can do, you should worry more about such things regarding legal guardians, and those who pick them. Continue reading "Incentivized Guardians" »

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