A prior post cited the depressing stats the impact the current state of economic affairs is having on many children & families. http://danpetrosini.wordpress.com/2011/03/07/children-at-risk/
Worse than it seems
The problem is much bigger than it seems. The impact dramatically multiplies as over time these children have their own children who are likely to get stuck in a cycle of poverty and dependency.
It’s a complicated issue that’s been with us for decades. Unfortunately, the many programs the government created have done nothing to slow its growth, in fact the problem has increased, despite of their efforts.
Corrosive to Self Esteem
The government’s and some well intended organizations approach is dead wrong. Providing shelter and food, while worthwhile endeavors in the short term, actually breed a mentality that support comes from the outside.
A life of dependency leaves no room for a healthy self esteem. In order to feel good about yourself and face life’s challenges confidently you must learn to stand on your own two feet.
A successful approach is one where assistance has strings attached. Rather than a pure hand out, connect positive actions to continued support! Is that radical??
Why does the government hand out 99 weeks of unemployment without requiring the people to do something! If some of the unemployed have outdated or poor skills, require them to take training to upgrade or acquire a skill. Why not??? Nothing else is working!
Examples the Current approach does not work
When Welfare for Work (Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act) was introduced, (requiring recipients to work and capping benefits at five years etc..) poverty and welfare rates DROPPED!
Larry Summers, the former economic adviser to Obama, studied unemployment http://www.econlib.org/library/Enc/Unemployment.html : proving that long term unemployment benefits actually INCREASE the unemployment rate. Wish he’d said something while at the White House!
This is a giant complex problem that a single solution cannot address. It is easier but expensive, to just provide benefits to people in need and feel we are doing something. Its simply not effective.
Truly helping the people who need it and are caught in a cycle of poverty and welfare is hard work. It involves changing ingrained behaviors and building self esteem. Not easy, ask any parent!
Approach is Critical
The task can seem overwhelming, discouraging attempts to do something.
We need to approach it by realizing that if we change one life, its a huge victory, with the bonus its saving their offspring and their offspring etc!
The types of agendas I suggest require intensive, comprehensive programs to change ingrained behavior. Most of the people with dependent lives did not have the benefit of support (parents, families). We need to teach them the set of life skills they need to be independent productive citizens.
It isn’t cheap but the alternative cost is much higher. If you can’t justify it on a moral basis (I had to work etc…) think of it on an economical basis.
I recognize this is complicated issue with various roots of cause, but we must start somewhere and chip away at this critical problem.
Here is a link to Manna House, a local grassroots organization making an impact along these lines.
(Does this ring a bell? – You can give someone fish or teach them how to fish)
Love to hear from you on it!