10 August 2014

My Job is (was) Making Me a Republican

I hate, hate, hate those posts that you see on the facebook about how welfare recipients are responsible for the downfall of society.  They're not.  They contribute sometimes but they are not the sole cause.   

I am usually a bleeding heart liberal.  Working in social services certainly and regularly makes me question my beliefs.  Because there is, sadly, sometimes a ring of truth to those posts.

Yes you're right, interwebs, that (in my humble opinion) persons on welfare should not have manicures, drive nicer cars than most of us, or be able to buy cigarettes/alcohol/energy drinks/etc.  The way I see it is that if you are receiving public assistance, you best be working your ass off to get off of it as soon as possible.

That being said, sometimes the people had those cars before their life took a downturn. It's not always in everyone's best interest to turn a car back in to avoid payments and sometimes that nice car is actually their home.  But we've all met the person with a Mercedes who constantly complains about drowning in debt.  There's this thing, it's called a Kia, or a Chevy, or any of the other cars that are less expensive.

Yes, a $20 manicure is a self-esteem boost.  Yes, a treat is good when you're feeling down.  However, that $20 can be saved to increase your overall circumstances instead of a fleeting increase in how you're feeling about life that particular day.

Sometimes people have cable television while living in free public housing.  This makes me grit my teeth in the same way as the $20 manicure.  That cost, while providing a momentary distraction from how awful your life is in that moment, can also be set aside to further your life. $20 can make a difference.  It can also eliminate distraction when a person should be focusing on improving their situation

Some of what social services are experiencing is two-fold.  The middle class becoming a low-income class and the transition is brutal.  People who are used to a certain standard of life can no longer afford it.  Another side is the values set forth in society right now that a person NEEDS that fancy cell phone, that manicure, or that television. 

But people land on welfare for a variety of reasons: divorce, job loss, illness.  Sometimes it is not because of bad personal choices but by circumstances out of their control.  The key is to get off of it as quickly as possible and that is where the system is broken.

One of the broken pieces is the mindset of "Oh, something terrible has happened so you will not be able to function for a long time, if ever again at all."   There needs to be strict guidelines in place and not the assumption that because you have a PTSD diagnosis, it means that your entire life stops. Or that the diagnosis is correct and valid.  Depression is not a reason to withdraw from society forever. I've witnessed a definite increase in these diagnosis and it's not necessarily a good thing.

There is a tenet in social services that everyone deserves a second chance. I agree, people do.
Often people are given third, fourth, fifth chances and this is where I disagree.  If you're on your fifth tour through social services then clearly the resources can be spent on someone who *is* ready to make needed changes in their lives to become more successful. 

Because, clearly, on the fifth try: you're not ready or, as sometimes happens, you're taking advantage. Yes, yes, I hear the retorts of "Well, on the fifth try might be The Time that it works.  Yes, that's true, it could but often it isn't.  I look at the greater good often.  In the fourth and fifth try, two other humans can be given second chances to be successful.

To work in social services you must be a bleeding heart liberal but sometimes your heart has to be black and closed.  Sometimes you have to make the hard choice regarding clients.  Sometimes that hard choice is what causes them to change, and sometimes not. 

And like the title of this post states: my job was making me question all my moral, ethics, and scruples.  (Gosh, I'm glad to be done there. I just keep realizing that)

No comments: