Whose responsibility is it?

Due to the fact that I am no longer an anonymous blogger, after all in Maine it’s not as if there is a plethora of Black women working as Executive Directors of small non-profit agencies. I am about to share a story but won’t be able to fill in the back story since while I like to talk much shit, I am rather fond of the paycheck I collect a couple times a month. So I apologize that I can not get too juicy with this story but it’s a story that needs to be shared.

I run a small agency that works primarily with low income youth and their families through a variety of services that we offer. The economic downturn has increased our workload at a time when frankly the money to fund such operations especially in smaller communities is drying up. I spend my days plotting to keep the doors open so not only do the area youth have a safe space to come to but so that I can make sure that the college boy will be able to attend college in the fall and that rice and beans don’t become a staple in our house. (Nothing wrong with them, I’d just rather eat them a couple times a week and not daily)

To be honest it’s a hard time to be in the non-profit sector, it’s never been a cakewalk but in the past several years it’s gotten even harder. Which is why I was stunned to find myself in a conversation with someone who is very knowledgeable about the field tell me point blank, they just don’t understand why people cannot provide for themselves. In a nutshell this person told me they think that most poor folks are lazy bums who are coddled. Furthermore that while the work that folks like me do is good; it bugs them how much bureaucratic waste goes on at agencies. To further elaborate this person felt that too many times folks like me (but not me) get hooked on good salaries and don’t do jack. ….Ummmm, wow! I could go on but the takeaway is that there is too much governmental waste supporting bums and maybe if we stopped helping folks they would pick up their own slack.

Like I said, I’d love to give you more details but I can’t. On the other hand this conversation made me wonder what would happen if social services simply did not exist? I wish I had faith that people would suddenly do the right thing and provide for their own families but in many cases, I see people daily who lack the means to do that. Of course there are scammers, over the years I have met many people who burn out of the helping professions because frankly it gets hard to do your job when you see people work the system. But I truly feel that at the end of the day the folks who do that are in the minority, most folks who use government and social services would probably rather not use them.

In a society such as ours whose responsibility is it to take care of the less fortunate among us? Once upon a time family connections were tighter and people could rely on family for help but as our connections to family have shifted often the help is not there. Either people physically are not able to assist or in these tight times cannot afford the monetary assistance.

Should we even have safety nets (are they really that safe) in place to catch our less fortunate?

Let’s talk about it. I am not even going to discuss the assumption that folks in social services are paid too much. I can count the number of coworkers I have had in almost 15 years in this field who were only a hair above the clients financially speaking. I am convinced that no one does direct social services without it being a calling, low pay, paltry benefits for jobs that require a certain level of experience and suck the life out of you. Yeah that’s the high life baby!

7 thoughts on “Whose responsibility is it?”

  1. Only a person who has never had to struggle says bullshit like that. Period. Yes there are people who take advantage of the system. But at the same time once you’re in the system, I’ve heard it’s hard to get out of. I’m a firm believer that some people live in bubble and they are unaware of what goes on around them.

  2. Too many people misunderstand what these programs are really for.

    Yes, there is waste.

    Yes, people abuse the system.

    But there are far more people who NEED the help who could not just get the money from a relative, or get a job or whatever else people think they could do to plug the hole in their life.

    For example, if one more new piece of research comes out that shows that a white man with a criminal record has a better chance of getting a job than a black man without, I’m going to pull my hair out. And yet, people without jobs are consistently labeled as lazy.

    I note that in this high unemployment environment, a lot more people are understanding that it’s not always about being lazy. Sometimes you just don’t get the job, even when you’re qualified.

    I would not trust society to step in and fill the gaps if we got rid of social services because too much of society misunderstands social services to be handouts to people who could do just fine on their own.

  3. Correction…For whatever the reason our government officials are becoming less effective. Time to wake up Washington.

  4. Without the “safety nets” America would become another third world type of country. Example, outsourcing equals less jobs for Americans, both government and private corp. corruption, BP oil contamination that is eroding a way of life for many families in Louisiana, etc. For whatever the reason our government officials seems to becoming less effective.

    Thank goodness for people such as yourself.

  5. I have the contrast of seeing life here in America with safety nets versus life in Nigeria and I’m glad the safety nets exist. I think that’s one of the good things about the US. Sure, family is supposed to be the safety net but in these days, as times get harder and harder, everyone feels it more profoundly than before. We need these social services to help folks who have fallen on hard times so that we can maintain the “status” of the country. If a child is living in poverty in the US can still have some kind of roof over his head, access to some kind of food, and a chance to go to school (no matter how sub-par), I think he is still many steps ahead than his 3rd world counterpart.

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