Well, I have a feeling that this will be one of my most hated and controversial blog posts ever. Yet it is something that I have to get out there and get off of my chest. But before I get into my subject matter for today, let me give you a little more of my background.
I was homeschooled (for the most part) all the way until High School. During that time, I grew up with almost every day spent in the office of a local branch of a global 501.(c).3. organization. I learned to type by typing my mother's correspondence to headquarters. I learned math by helping my dad write checks and do the books. I know WHY it's called clip art and remember doing the copying, clipping, and taping (magic tape only). Oh yes, and this was all before computers, so yes, I learned to use a typewriter, white out, a copy machine, an analog business phone, and many other things.
I also helped to run the food pantry, make food boxes, serve lunch to homeless people, cook, clean, and listen while people poured out their life's situation in hopes of getting assistance with everything from food to rent. In other words, I know a thing or two because I've seen a thing or two. Including a homeless man named, "Crazy Mike" (who knows if that's even his real name), putting his elbow through a plate glass (there was no safety glass then) window in the chapel in which I was sitting while doing my schoolwork. He almost bled out. Thank God for the paramedics who saved his life.
He went to an asylum until Bill Clinton closed them all down, but that's a completely different blog post.
In all my years of experience, however, there is something different about today. Today's society is completely different from those of the 1980s and even the 1990s in which I grew up. You see back then, the goal was to transform lives and help people to live better. Today? Well all of that is called "judgmentalism" and we're told that "attaching strings" to help is not okay.
So then, what today's society is saying is that it is okay to help people, even in a continuous cycle, but it's not ok to ask them to make changes to their lives which will prevent them from needing help and breaking that cycle? I mean, after all, "who are we to judge?"
It is an utterly frustrating mentality for anyone who truly cares about those in need, but it seems to be hailed as the new "tolerance." Why? Well, let's look deeper.
Try to teach a budgeting or financial principles class? Get told that you're "poor shaming" and that their problem isn't that they can't manage their money... Even though they've got a $300 a month car payment on a $1,500 a month wage and a family of four.
Try to help someone understand that starting a business is better than working for minimum wage at some faceless corporation? Get told that you're hating on "low skilled workers." Even though many of them could make far more money freelancing than doing the 9-5 thing at Walmart, and it could turn into a real company with enough work.
Ask a person coming in for rental assistance to produce a financial statement showing how they're spending their money? Well, you can get away with it. Asking them to turn off the cable service or reduce their eating out budget? Well, you just hate poor people and think that they shouldn't have anything to enjoy in life.
I wish I were making this up, but I've heard it all before, and I've even had them said to me when I was running a local office for that same 501.(c).3. In fact, one of the above comments came from one of the other directors of said organization.
And don't even get me started on the vitriol and abject/outright HATRED that you get if you try to require a shelter resident to attend a Bible Study or Church Service. I mean, services should be "free of religious influence." Umm, excuse me, but if a church is providing the services, out of their own budget of money, and without government assistance, then it has the right to say what needs to be done to get those services.
Yet it all goes back to this codependent society that we've built, even if people don't want to call it that or accept it as such.
You see, there is this need in today's society to FEEL like we're doing good things for people. On top of that, we also need to FEEL non-judgmental. No one really cares about the people that are being helped aside from knowing that "someone is helping them" and that "we made it possible."
We don't want to think deeper and we don't want to look beyond that. We just want our "feel good" and hence the beginning of the codependency cycle.
The "poor" have a need. We meet that need. The "poor" have another need. We meet that need. The "poor" have another need. We meet that need. The "poor" have another need. We meet that need. The "poor" have another need. We meet that need. The "poor" have another need. We meet that need.
And on and on and on.
Not once do we ever stop to look at what we're doing and how little effect it has on people. Rarely does anyone ever ask the private charity, "how many of your clients are repeat clients and what are you doing to help solve their need for assistance?" No one EVER seems to ask the government.
It's the same as those who want endless migration into our country. They never ask the hard questions, like how to we help SOLVE this problem so there isn't a need anymore, they just want to keep throwing money at it, because it's easier, and it makes them feel morally righteous and "good."
As a society we've grown a NEED for "the poor." We have to have someone to help. We have to have someone to take care of. That's why everything that is done to help them improve their lives is denigrated today instead of being celebrated as it was forty years ago. That's also why our definition of poor continues to expand. We no longer see just the homeless and "low income" earners as poor, but we also see those in the lower middle class as poor as well.
We must always have victims to help, but you can't actually help them, then we won't have anyone to help, so here are a bunch of artificial "judgement" barriers that actually hurt them more than help them.
We've deified giving a man a fish, while simultaneously vilifying anyone who's attempting to teach a person to fish.
Here's a most controversial newsflash for today's world:
You aren't owed cable tv, high speed internet, a "nice" car, a house, spare money to go out to eat, et al. Those are things that you can have as you can afford them. How nice it must be to be a "poor person" in America. I mean, as compared to somewhere, like say, Bombay, India? San Salvador, El Salvador? Honduras? Uzbekistan? Congo?
Yet many people get genuinely and vitriolically upset when they hear of a charity asking people to give up these luxury items, and that doesn't even include the abject hatred charity workers get from those receiving the services. It's like everyone today simply believes that they are all owed the house, the dog, and the white picket fence and everything that goes along with it. But it doesn't work like that.
So enter the generations younger than me. They seem to be the ones really pushing the envelope on this, and they're so fed up with the help requirements, that they want all assistance from the government to be given free of any strings.
- Don't want to work? Don't have to. (Universal Basic Income)
- Don't want to be homeless or live in your car? Don't have to (Universal Housing Initiative)
- Want better food than the 1980s government assistance boxes? (SNAP food type restriction elimination)
- Want additional free money? (Reduction of salary requirements for government assistance)
- Honorable Mention: Student debt forgiveness, unconditional foreign aid, the ever expanding school meals and school days.
This is all supposed to help them, but in the end all it does is allow them to continue their "poor" lifestyle and to continue to make bad decisions. It's all about people wanting to feel better about themselves without actually fixing the problem so they can continue to "feel good" about what we're doing.
Want proof? - Try suggesting that those receiving UBI have to do some kind of work for it, or enroll in further education and training programs in "people needed" job sectors, or turn in job seeker sheets that ACTUALLY get verified and tracked to see if they turned down a job.
- Try suggesting that people in government granted housing assignments have to do community service or some other form of community give back for what they're receiving.
- Try suggesting that we go back to food assistance boxes being delivered to needy families with wholesome and balanced nutrition and cooking classes for those who are unable to cook it.
- Try suggesting that people receiving government funds must submit a spending report showing where their money went each month and have a financial expert review it with the recipient each month to help them better understand how to change their spending habits to better themselves and their situation.
Yep, that reaction? That's what I thought.
If you're a conservative, you're asking why we aren't doing these things already. If your a liberal, you are you repulsed by the idea, and even this article mentioning them is offensive. Yet these are the kind of things that are needed to change lives so that people no longer NEED assistance.
But that isn't the goal anymore. The goal is just to help them so we feel better about ourselves. So that we can feel "non-judgmental." It's about us, not about them. It's about what makes us feel good, not about what transforms their lives so that they can break the cycle of poverty and government assistance.
But we as a country, and really as Western Civilization, have developed this twisted and heinous co-dependency problem. They want someone to give them never ending and "judgement" (read requirement) free assistance, and our society appears to need people to continue pouring help out to on a never ending basis to feed our need for positive ego fulfillment.
If it were really about helping? It would help.
Co-Dependency always hurts both the giver and the taker, and that is exactly what we've bred in America today.