Monday, November 3, 2008

Government & Grassroots

In the human service field, particularly within the area of criminal transformation, the government has become the major funder and administrator—via program regulations—of efforts to rehabilitate criminals.

While government involvement is desired as a funder of programs, the regulatory side effects often render the program efforts much less effective than those of the pure grassroots organization funded and administered by people from the community; often the very community—penitential criminals—being served.

In her book, Loaves and Fishes, Dorothy Day comments on the government’s involvement in social programs—in reference to demands they upgrade certain things on the Catholic Worker farm.

“It is a strange and terrifying business, this all-encroaching state, when it interferes to such a degree in the personal practice of the works of mercy. How terrible a thing it is when the state takes over the poor! “State ownership of the indigent,” one of the bishops called it. The authorities want us to live according to certain standards, or not at all. We are forced to raise our standard of living, regardless of the debts involved. We are forced to be institutional, which is not what we want.” (p. 205)