WHAT IF – inspired by frustration in dealing with the mess that is Department of Social Services

Maybe, years ago, the concept of welfare was simply this: If we used the government as the infrastructure to distribute assistance to those in need, it would be the easiest way of connecting the people who need it with the people who could provide it. Then again, maybe it wasn’t. Thinking back to just a few seconds ago I think that it would have been a GREAT idea; it is one that came directly from the mind of a market research analyst (me), always faithful that if we connect the right people, we will yield great returns. If this was the way the welfare system really worked then it would actually work. Instead it is a maze of government agencies all created to, (and, you’ll forgive the up-coming cynicism) make people who don’t really give a damn feel a little bit better about doing “something” when they’d really just prefer to forget about it. What has come about is that the requirements for each program have become so specific they end up alienating many of the people who need help. Being redirected from office to office, chasing information around in what ends up being circles is in no way helpful, or productive. Aren’t the case workers assigned to each case supposed to profile their clients, to put them into contact with the programs that WILL help them? No, instead everybody is thrown into a general system, which works only for the people who want to stay dependant on the system. Those that ask questions and actually want to make progress are cut off at the knees by one restriction or the other. If this is the way the welfare system is run then I agree it needs to be shut down, washed out, bleached, gutted, remodeled…. Oh hell, just demolish it and rebuild from scratch.
The idea of circular movement could actually be very productive if in fact it was a circle of completion and continuation as opposed to tail chasing. If those that want to give would give, then they could be connected with those in need, anonomously, through this government conduit; and that’s all the government would be. Just conduits from one group to another, as opposed to an ENTIRE system that demands, requires, duels and judges but in the end does nothing affective.
I am obviously frustrated. I HATE this system; it makes me feel dirty and stupid just walking in the door for an application. Yes, you can judge me as a snob, a bitch, a dumbass or ingrate, I don’t really give a damn. I would rather be living in my car with my son and dog off of a bag of apples and a box of cereal a week, then be frustrated and tied up in the chaos that is the state/federal welfare system. But of course, the government has laws against that kind of choice don’t they? I’d be called an unfit mother and have my son and dog ripped from me, simply because I believe that even though I have very little,  what I do have is a good beginning because it is, unalienable, and mine. That is what I should start with, nothing else. My car is the only thing I own. It is the only roof we have.  I have a YMCA membership, free and clear, which enables us to bathe daily, keep ourselves clean so as to maintain hygene. I make enough money each week to afford food and gas. The food has to be only what we need for each meal because I have no device to preserve it or place to store it. But in the end, it is what I have. And I hate that I am required to have more by some state agency that is willing to duel out judgements and laws but doesn’t have  a clue or a desire to actually HELP improve upon my situation or situations like mine.
Applying for assistance from the state takes time and energy that I should and want to be spending on looking for work. It’s not that I don’t realize that I need help, it’s that I wish it was coming from a private source with no strings attached. That’s hard to say right? Because, were roles reversed, would I give freely to somebody just because they asked for it? Yes, I actually would, because I tend to give to the point of giving myself away, but say I decided not to; I, now the giver in this hypothetical role reversal, did not feel comfortable giving to some random person that I didn’t know. In the law of six degrees there would still be somebody that I was closely enough connected to that I would be able to help, or sponsor if you will, without feeling like I was throwing my money at a total stranger and potentially into a black hole; but then, after I gave the money, how much control should I have over how the individual who uses it??? I would say, none. That opinion, though, is derived, obviously from the fact that I am just a hypothetical giver. In reality I am a receiver (right now) and I know that I am trust worthy. Someone who doesn’t know me however would not know that; they may not even really want to know me. They would just want to know that what they chose to do with their money was used to positively impact somebody else. Right now, the welfare system, funded by taxes which are forced out of people’s pockets, is positively affecting a painfully low percentage of it’s users. In most cases it is simply feeding a different sort of entitlement; the sort that happens to people who aren’t living in luxury but spending generations in public housing. They are being raised without the example of their parents working, encouraged by the pressures of their environment to think things like standing in lines waiting to ask for a case workers help are a productive way to spend the day. The individuals that have full time jobs but are making minimum wage are the ones that get completely shat  on. If a single parent is making $1400 per month in a 40 hr per week job then they are expected to 1.) afford day care to work those 40 hours 2.) Pay their bills- including rent 3.) and be happy with the fact that after all this they have absolutely no time to go back to school or work side jobs to start a business of their own. After all, they have a job already. To take care of their children. That is what they do when they get home. And what about when they need to take a day off of work. Because when you are a single parents, things like child support cases as well as other things, like clearing up a suspended license that was taken away because you couldn’t afford to renew it in time, or because you couldn’t afford to re-register your car…Oh wait, we shouldn’t have cars, should we? Unless of course, that is what we are living in…
All of these factors make the system very counter productive. Just a steady stream of obsticles in the way of progress as opposed to HELP. The quickest way to fix the system is to acknowledge that each case worker should have 10 families to deal with tops. That would create a LOT more jobs to help the economy now wouldn’t it??? I mean, each case worker now has, an estimate here, about 50 cases right… in cities with more need, probable more. These numbers get in the way; they are obsticles in the way of progress. Each worker should be invested in getting their clients back onto their feet by behaving as a conduit from available resources (private resources) to their needy clients. Were the state welfare system run this way then people would not be raised in the state system. Right now, case workers are over loaded with cases, under informed and do not have ANY ACCESS to PRIVATE RESOURCES; only state resources are known to state workers. Even though they should be informed on federal programs, many are not. The cases workers therefore, are serving as an obsticle (instead of conduit) as well. More ineffectiveness. 
All social service help should be given with the assumption that the individuals in need want to get to a better, and fully independent place in their lives and in a near future. Isn’t that what all people want? And if it wasn’t what a person wanted, if they were just scum bags exploiting the system, then they would be easy to spot. Because honestly, even in my cynical state of mind, I believe that these type of people are such an extreme majority that they would be easy to weed out, get rid of, and not feel guilty about imprisoning. Most of the people who may look like they are exploiting the system are, in my opinion, have really just decided to not fight it, to no longer try to navigate it. So they resign themselves to the minimal because they don’t even know that better is out there for them. That is what the case workers should be conduits of; roads of progress… messenger between the haves and the have nots, to show the have nots how to get themselves into the have-hoods. And don’t worry “haves”… you’re not stabbing yourself in the leg… there really is enough to go around. There is enough for nobody to be living in ghettos, spending generations on welfare. Most just need intervention to get them to level of conscienciousness. And yes, that is what the conduit is really about. Changing people’s minds about what is possible for them. Now tell me that wouldn’t be progressive.

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