Saint Bureaucracy July 2018
This is not an article about politics, political parties, or religion. It IS an article about the value of purposeful human dignity and how we have changed our viewpoint on its worth in the last few decades. If we go back to the America of the 1920’s, there were almost no governmental welfare programs. Flash forward to today, and 46,000,000 of us are on food stamps.
When someone was in need during the time of our rural (non-city) population history, the people who would be asked for help most likely knew the one asking. They knew their family, their job history, their habits both good and bad, and they knew whether there was actual cause for concern. Often the kind of responses that happened in “true need” situations were much like the current American response to global tragedies like hurricanes, wildfires and tsunamis. An out pouring of the heart caused folks to donate money, goods, and time.
With that also came prayers for health, job offers, and restoration of the modest lifestyle of those in need. It was a godly thing with very personal understanding of the situation. Where there was a cause, like alcohol abuse, the community was in a very real position to counsel the person most responsible for the root of the problems. Things like laziness, education, family history, overall situation analysis, and needs of children were taken into consideration. Those of authority could make good judgments about all of that prior to laying out funds to help.
Judgment about matters of welfare has fled in today’s bureaucracy. Significantly, the current, short-term needs are considered more important than the long-term effect of assistance. No more counseling, no prayer, and no restoration of the needy person’s self worth through employment, are required and often, they are not sought. Just hand over the money (or equivalent) and off you go. It is physically impossible, given the number of applicants involved, to care about the outcome in all but a few cases. The recipient gets what he or she needs today but he does not get what he needs most tomorrow – a sense of self worth. He does not have a chance at restoration of his noble character by counseling about drug abuse because the bureaucracy does not require any kind of test for him to gain the assistance. The question of sloth or activity does not come up. This leaves him stuck. Many times I have heard someone say, “If I take that job, I will lose my disability.” It is always someone who CAN do the work.
The bureaucratic replacement of the small community and the mostly churched people is a poor substitute because it addresses the symptomatic current need without addressing the root causes of the poverty. It is a complete rip off for the applicant. The hope of restoration is not part of the program. That, as we know, is the most important part of the process – returning the applicant to the glorious mental state of known self-sufficiency.