Not all policies attempting to help people produce such results. The G.I. Bill of Rights, which provided higher-education benefits and housing loans after World War II, worked because it rewarded not only past service but also strenuous effort.

The original FHA home-mortgage program worked well because it limited loans to those with good credit ratings.

But policies trying to extend the benefits of health insurance, housing, and higher education that tended to sever the connection between effort and reward have backfired and hurt many of the intended beneficiaries.

Government policymakers failed to anticipate the responses of third parties attempting to game the system and grab some of the money government was making available.