Like Chuck Brown said, the cash is the best
Just a quick post this morning after this Tweet by columnist Kathleen Parker:
Many government programs exist because someone thought it was better or more lucrative (sorry for the cynicism) to develop and institutionalize a government program that provides an indirect benefit (with its related overhead costs) rather than cash. Food stamps and military commissaries are two examples. Once institutionalized, the programs develop advocates (and contractors) who can advance their influence or make a buck over their continued existence.
When I ran for Congress as an independent in 2012, I had a very animated discussion with a neighbor who was a retired warrant officer. I suggested that the subsidies to commissaries be ended. His initial reaction was to pace about agitated, followed by, "You can't take away a benefit I've earned." When I suggested that he and all vets and service members be given a pay raise instead, he responded, "Some of those junior enlisted [military members] can't handle more money."
This is the paternal element of government and taxpayers that gets in the way of more efficient, effective government benefits; they want to restrict choices of beneficiaries.
Economists put forward that cash offers the greatest "utility" and freedom in making purchasing decisions. Unless we get past the paternal urge of "father knows best", government programs will be inefficient and bloated. We all pay the price for that.