There has been a lot of discussion lately about what is called entitlements in Washington. These are social safety nets put in place in the past to help the poor and the elderly who are no longer able to work. Before these types of things were taken care of, either by extended families or by the Church. Yet in the past century people have looked to the government to provide services by using taxpayer money to take care of these important needs.
In the debate over the budget it has been decided that these programs are too costly. This is certainly debatable, however assuming that to be true for sake of argument, what is a solution to this problem?
Could it be that the nuclear family notion of the past century is not helpful to our culture? That by spreading extended families over large distances because of employment opportunity we have destroyed the social fabric that once was in place to take care of family members in need and the older members of the family who were no longer able to provide for themselves.
Are communities simply too mixed up with people from too many different places and ideologies? So much so that there is not a sufficient feeling of connection for other community members’ heart strings to feel a tug to help the members of the community in need because there are no ties to them. It is simply left up to the Good Samaritan ideal that not many people seem to come by naturally in the modern age.
As the culture grows more secular as far as the expectation of what institution is responsible to meet the needs of human services, that a secular solution must be created. To replace what the Church used to do regarding social services if the spiritual community is unable or unwilling to fulfill this task. Perhaps there should be an audit of some sort to see what Churches are doing with their tax-free money. The reason that Churches were happily given tax exemptions in the past was that they came with the understanding that they would take on the lion’s share of the social service work for the community.
Yet as many mega churches seem to use their money for other things outside of servicing their immediate community’s needs as intended. Perhaps this old tradition needs to be revamped in some way. Perhaps have churches liable for taxes. They can enjoy generous exemptions on a results oriented basis by the positive impact they have on the Human Service needs of the community. If they are not able or willing to do the work those tax dollars can go to non-profit organizations who are willing to take care of those in need.
Perhaps also a closer look at non-profits is needed. A movement to consolidate the various agencies to provide less overhead costs, less redundancy and more leverage that comes from bulk purchases may be needed in order to have less money going toward administering programs and more resources going directly to the individuals who require them.
There are many discussions that communities need to have going forward to make sure that those in need are getting the services required and that it is done with utmost consistency , efficiently while being done well for all those concerned.