“Open For Discussion”- Guest Blog- The Limits of Charity- T. Paine
This is the first in the “Open for Discussion” Guest Blog – This post is actually the thoughts and opinions of more than one individual compiled under the nom de plume T- Paine.
What are the limits of charity?
This is a question that is being danced around in Lorain.
There have been at numerous meetings discussing the homeless, crime and general decay we are experiencing in Lorain. There are meetings regarding the growing homeless need. No one is looking at the root of the problem.
There exists in Lorain County a great disparity of social services. While everyone agrees that there is great need and that we should help those that are less fortunate, there should be limits to our assistance and an expectation of change as a result of our investment. If you look at Lorain and the disparity of services that we as a community provide compared to social services by all of the other cities in the county; then we in Lorain are either the nicest, most charitable people or the least intelligent. This would then mean that our surrounding neighbor communities are either made up of the most thoughtless or the most intelligent people.
Most people will say that the people of the surrounding communities are not bad people, even though they do not do the hard work of dealing with social programs or put their community at risk as does Lorain. Then we must conclude that we in Lorain must be the least intelligent for allowing these social programs to put our community at risk. If this is not the case, then why do other communities not step up and take upon their shoulders some of the charity work that is done in Lorain. Instead the surrounding communities send the less fortunate here.
Some will say that the need is greatest here. We agree because we have the programs to house feed and handle the need of a growing indigent population. We are in a terrible downward cycle as a community that is rapidly causing its ultimate demise. We are not serving just the homeless of our town we are now importing the homeless from surrounding cities, counties and states.
Why? Because; to quote a recent transfer from another state,
” I can get free services here in less than a month and back home it takes over a year”.
This individual has no friends in Lorain, no family and no ties to the community or the state of Ohio. Many others from Illinois, Florida, New York, West Virginia, and Kentucky have also come to Lorain for the easy benefits. They are here to take advantage of our social services, since it obvious that they have not come to find work in our depressed local economy.
Hooverville then – Lorain Now?
Lorain suffers from the hypocrisy of those residents of other communities who advocate for social programs for the disadvantaged and badly behaved, yet do not allow Section 8 housing or social programs in their nice community. These people want “someone” to help the less fortunate or demand that government should “do something”, but do they send their children to school where there are children from public housing? Do they shop at or support businesses that are patronized by people on public assistance? Of course not. Lorain bears the burden for them.
We have watched the soup kitchens and shelters grow from caring for a few individuals to being overwhelmed. This has caused additional organizations and churches to open up food kitchens and shelters.
Those waiting for their next meal camp out in the Library, roam the streets, alleys and neighborhoods. There are thefts of numerous items; copper disappears from vacant homes and from homes where the owners are on vacation. Anything that might be of value disappears from yards, outdoor furniture, tools, fences, gutters, siding and downspouts to name a few. Litter and broken windows make Lorain look threatening and uninviting. Aggressive panhandling is back and exists not only in the commercial areas, but in the residential neighborhoods. The police, in many cases know the perpetrator, but are unable to “catch them in the act” and aggressive methods to discourage them could be viewed as violations of civil rights or harassment.
How much more are the diminishing number of tax-paying residents and business people in Lorain willing to tolerate, let alone support? The programs that are offered keep growing and therefore the need keeps increasing as Lorain has the reputation of being “the place” for social programs. These programs have no expectation of an end for those they serve. We are merely warehousing and feeding. We are not teaching a man to fish, we are simply feeding him.
As the tax-paying few continue to leave the city, the tax base and donations will diminish creating an even larger problem. Our community is breaking under the stress created by the inequity that exists in the county. The city has no funds for basic services, crime increases while prevention becomes nearly impossible under the strain. Prisons, other communities and other states send the problems that they do not deal with to Lorain along with the people. The laws have come to protect not the innocent, but known criminals, and make enforcement agencies impotent.
Our neighborhoods and streets become less safe. Crime increases causing further exodus of residents and businesses. Housing vacancy increases causing property values to remain disproportionately low as compared to the rest of the county. Tax payers leave. Schools suffer. Businesses suffer. The spiral continues. Strangers are taking over our streets.
There are many good and decent people that need help and certainly there are some exceptions in all of the situations listed above.
The good people of Lorain are breaking under the burden and several questions need to be asked.
Can we not create limits to our charity that take care of our own without being taken advantage of and having to support the rest of the nation? Why should the good-hearted tax payers in Lorain be made to feel guilty for saying, “No, that’s enough”.
Can we create programs that have an expectation of change or end point, so that those on them have hope and motivation, instead of becoming more statistics of failure?
Can requirements of service be put in place as a reward for good behavior instead of entitlement? Community service projects such as, cleaning up litter, pulling weeds, performing simple chores could be a requirement for receiving services or meals. Our children perform simple chores to help out and develop a work ethic and to understand that nothing comes for free. All of us must perform at our jobs and maintain a good work record to receive our pay. Why can’t this be a requirement of the social programs? We have all heard that there is no value for anything that is given for free. We are not helping people we are making those on public assistance dependent on handouts rather than teaching values. The public assistance programs have become simply another addiction rather than a means to a cure.
Can random drug tests be made a requirement of receiving public assistance? A failed test would require immediate rehab treatment and continued “good progress” in order to maintain assistance. All taxpayers face consequences for not performing well at work or not paying the very taxes that support social programs some employers require monthly drug tests however those on public assistance have no standard to meet.
Why don’t other communities step up?
What are the rights of the taxpayers?
Can Lorain be charitable while upholding the laws that keep our children, homes and streets safe?
These are questions that must be asked if our community is to survive and thrive.
This is simply common sense.
Disclaimer: The views of the “Guest Writer” may not necessarily reflect the views of “that woman” blog