By Dena Leichnitz
The welfare system in this country has become an albatross. Like feminism, and other such ideologies before it, it started out as a very noble attempt to correct a societal wrong. However, when the government becomes the parent no one is happy. However, the Mormon welfare system is something that could be emulated, however it could not be done by the federal government. When you think of the Mormon welfare system, two words come to mind: Privatize and localize.
In February of this year, the Wall Street Journal did a piece on my church’s welfare system and states: “She accurately and precisely outlines the history, purposes and practices of the LDS Church welfare system, indicating that the charitable donations of Romney and other Latter-day Saints “are supporting the kind of safety net that government can never hope to create.” This is true because of the two words mentioned above: privatize and localize. The Mormon welfare system is based on the person becoming self-sufficient and helping out when things get rough. It is not meant to be ongoing and indefinite, like the government’s counterpart. Also everyone works in the church. We have our official callings. [A calling is a specific job you are responsible for within the church and is meant to help your spiritual progression. You are "called" by the Bishop and you can either accept or refuse the calling. If you accept, you are "set apart" by the Bishop and given a special blessing to help you accomplish your goals within that calling.]In fact, starting this weekend, my ward is responsible for cleaning the entire church on Saturdays throughout the month.
Everyone pitches in and everyone helps. Mark A. Bragg, the Los Angeles Stake President, once said in a Ward Conference for the Wilshire Ward, “If you are looking for a church you can be anonymous in, this is not it.” No one is paid for the work they do for the church, not even the Bishop. All of it is done in order to become more Christ-like.
So the welfare system in my church is not seem “freebie” or a “handout.” There is a requirement that you should be an upstanding member of the church. While the church certainly does help those who are not of our faith, it is done through recognized charities that we participate in. So how would you go about “privatizing” welfare? You would first start with the churches. The more churches that are able to help the better that would be for everyone. It would be better, 1) Because the person would be learning morals they may or may not currently possess. So even if they don’t convert, they couldn’t help to improve their lives by having more stable and honorable people in it. 2) It would relieve the burden from the state, freeing up funds that now can be spent on education and other services. 3) It allows the person to give back for the help they are receiving and not just feel “entitled.”
The next step in privatizing welfare would be to get other more secular charities involved, NGO’s and other non-profits to pick the slack. By having the private sector involved, we can use more creative ideas that the federal cannot or will not use. For instance, there are charities that allow you to buy a cow for a needy family in some third world country, so that they can make a living selling milk or they might give them chickens to start an egg business. These kind of things are best handled by the private sector. http://www.heifer.org/ourwork/mission.
In fact this come from Heifer International website:
By giving families a hand-up, not just a handout, we empower them to turn hunger and poverty into hope and prosperity, but our approach is more than that. By bringing communities together and linking them with markets in their area, we help bring sustainable agriculture and commerce to areas with a long history of poverty
These kind of charities make a lot more sense than just giving corrupt governments money. It helps the individual and creates an ongoing stream of revenue for the participants in the program. Lastly, you would look to the individual to help. For instance, individuals already get tax breaks for donating to charity, this I think is the best way for government to be involved while leaving the running of the welfare system up to individuals and private organizations. Overall, individuals, on a whole, are far more generous than governments anyway. Not only that they are more willing to give of their time and efforts when they feel the cause is just. Individuals can do far more than the most benevolent governments.
Now that we have privatized it, how do we localize it. Well, that would sort of naturally take care of itself. As with above example of Heifer International, we see that they go to where the problem is. That is what I mean by localize. By having churches/organizations in that region handle the bulk of the welfare cases, we could see a lot more people getting genuine help to lift them out of poverty. It is much easier to help Dena Leichnitz than it is to help Case #BX1026. When you know the person you can tailor the assistance to their particular needs and not just hand them some “resource directory” and hope that it solves the problem. All of us can agree, we want people who need help to be able to get it, without a lot of red tape and without signing over their dignity and self-respect. By “Mormonizing” welfare, I think we would be able to achieve those goals and do more to eradicate poverty than we have done under well-meaning but detrimental government programs.
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