I was moved by Dan Doyle's article on the homeless in Lycoming County. Certainly, I applaud charities and churches in their work to help the poor and homeless. But I'm dismayed over American society's drift towards regarding the poor and homeless as simply too "lazy" or, worse, pretending they are living in poverty in order to receive welfare benefits. As a former welfare case worker in New York City, I saw little if no evidence to support that perspective. And now federal, state, and local governments will probably be cutting welfare and social service benefits even more. Churches and charities can't handle the 47 percent of the population living near, at, or below the poverty level, not to mention those who are also homeless.
What needs to change is our conception of "work," both from psychological and socio-economic points of view. A person who does not have a job may be much more useful to society than a person, say, who works at a plant producing zippers or making machine gun parts. That individual has time to be of service to friends and family. A person without a regular job, or any job, can write books, do arts and craft work, console friends and neighbors who are suffering, and just being a good friend or parent in the community. Does being a "good" have to be defined having a job? Isn't there not an infinite number of diverse and various ways, besides "working," in which a person can be useful to society?
As for jobs, isn't the economic problem now in the U.S. that we don't have enough jobs for people that want one? We're not willing to create more government or civil service jobs nor are we willing to prevent companies from outsourcing jobs. And civil jobs, such as the post office, are being eliminated.
Surely, even with our national debt, we can afford to take care of the poor without depending on charities. And it pays to do so because welfare and social services reduce street crime, drug dealing, homicides all of which cost society much more money in the wrong run.
Submitted by Virtual Newsroom