Monday, June 29, 2009

Teach A Man To Fish...

I'm often harangued for proposing the social equivalent of Scipio's Golden Bridge as the most efficacious means to alleviate the problems in the hood or those of the oppressed.
Most people want to rely on social programs and financial entitlements as the final and complete answer.
But now it seems that some institutions are waking up the the fact that they are creating and cultivating bigger problems by their misguided efforts to solve a more manageable problem.

Check out;

Some would say that we need to invest in ways to solve the problems of others who may not have the means to solve these problems on their own.
Okay, I agree with that.
But how do we go about this?

Let's say that you're doing alright (financially speaking).
You have a cousin who is on crack, hasn't had a job in years and who lacks any formal job training or education.
This cousin asks you to pay his bills for one year in order for him to get his life in order.
You feel bad for the cat's situation and decide to give him a chance at a better life.

After the year is up - this cousin still has made no effort to improve his situation.
But now this cousin has had a couple of kids.
You now feel that maybe you haven't done enough to help your struggling cousin.
You now pay their bills, pay for day care and enroll your cousin in the local J.C. for remediation and to help them towards getting some kind of degree.

After another year has passed - one of the children has developed Asthma and needs medical treatment.
How could you overlook a simple necessity like health care?
You now decide to pay your cousins bills, pay for their schooling, pay for their children's day care and pay for their health care (You also decide to give your cousin a little extra money to pay for a little fun every once in a while.).
After a few years of doing this - your cousin tells you that the life on the streets was too much for him to overcome on his own.
That the influence of those around him was too much to resist.
He is still on crack, has contracted AIDS, now has four children and still has made little progress towards independence.

What went wrong?
Did you not do enough?
The problem was that you failed to add stipulations to the assistance. (i.e. - Get off crack, you'll pay some bills. Stay healthy, you'll pay for school. Do well in school - you'll buy their groceries. Etc.)
Or did you forget the essential concept of one first being prepared to manage and maintain any assistance given them?
IMO - Many people are not qualified to benefit from the assistance given - it just becomes another level of dependence.


FreeMan said...

OR, you realize you are unable to handle crack addiction and the only help you offer is to get them into some form of rehab. You take and adopt the kids as your own or help another family member financially so they don't disappear in foster care. If none of that works you simply say NO as money and stability with a junkie is not a real solution.

You are dealing with a irrational person warped by drugs so rational consequences will not win either. Everyone is on crack reasonably knew what crack could do as they seen it, it's not like Nyquil or something. Money never cures Crack you have to help them get into rehab and dry out and if you can't afford that take care of the kids. You can't let someone's addiction bring down the whole family. Let them f*ck up their life and not yours.

brohammas said...

drug addiction both compounds and confounds poverty issues.
While direct support breeds dependence, there has to be a way to still help.
I advocate a system that does not give direct assistance but simply removes obstacles for those at the bottom.
money can be an obstacle so if you are broke and untrained, I would remove the obstacle of tuition.
Poor spend lots of time navigating red tape and waiting at locations for things... food stamps, health care, DMV, legal issues.. I say cut down all the red tape, speed up the process and let people get back to being/or not being productive.
We need to take a closer look at the lives of those in need, logistically open the door of opportunity, and then if they don't step up we can all see who's fault it really is and deal accordingly (a true bum needs to be called such and motivated rather than assisted).

DPizz said...

I think you are on point with what you are saying here. Maintain or achieve certain milestones or conditions and receive resources that you can leverage to better your situation.

I think Brohammas' suggestion to simply remove all obstacles does not go far enough. Despite the one-off rags to riches stories that pervade American society, in my observation, most people that achieve a modicum of success (middle class status) do so by leveraging a minimum base of existing resources, including economic, personal and family relationships, opportunities, etc., coupled with minimal obstacles to impede.

Bottom line is you should not simply be an enabler of poor behavior, but help people help themselves. As Ugly has suggested, how you do this is the key. Designing something that is effective at doing this is easier said than done.