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Archive for the tag “When Helping Hurts”

Perpetuating poverty and hindering salvation

If we believe salvation is more than securing our destiny in the next life,

If we believe the gospel is for the whole person, not just his spirit,

If we believe redemption is of the entirety of a person’s being and circumstances, in this life as well as the next,

then what about the assertion that much of the “help” we give to people in chronic poverty actually keeps them trapped in poverty and dependence, rather than moving them toward self-sufficiency and prosperity?

And what about those who manipulate good-hearted people to escape the hard work of supporting themselves?

And what about those who don’t have to face their own brokenness because they can count on others to enable them with money, food, and housing?

If you claim a holistic theology of salvation, how is your “help that hurts” not actually hindering that person’s salvation?

Profiting from a child’s illiteracy

Nicholas KristofNicholas D. Kristof writes at the New York Times:

This is painful for a liberal to admit, but conservatives have a point when they suggest that America’s safety net can sometimes entangle people in a soul-crushing dependency. Our poverty programs do rescue many people, but other times they backfire.

Some young people [in Appalachia] don’t join the military (a traditional escape route for poor, rural Americans) because it’s easier to rely on food stamps and disability payments.

Antipoverty programs also discourage marriage: In a means-tested program like S.S.I., a woman raising a child may receive a bigger check if she refrains from marrying that hard-working guy she likes. Yet marriage is one of the best forces to blunt poverty. In married couple households only one child in 10 grows up in poverty, while almost half do in single-mother households.

Most wrenching of all are the parents who think it’s best if a child stays illiterate, because then the family may be able to claim a disability check each month. … That is a burden on taxpayers, of course, but it can be even worse for children whose families have a huge stake in their failing in school. Those kids may never recover: a 2009 study found that nearly two-thirds of these children make the transition at age 18 into S.S.I. for the adult disabled. They may never hold a job in their entire lives and are condemned to a life of poverty on the dole — and that’s the outcome of a program intended to fight poverty.

There’s no doubt that some families with seriously disabled children receive a lifeline from S.S.I. But the bottom line is that we shouldn’t try to fight poverty with a program that sometimes perpetuates it.

Read the full text of this excellent post by clicking here.
Essential reading: When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting the Poor … and Yourself

Do Toms hurt more than help?

Cheryl Davenport writes at Co.Exist that the Toms Shoes charity model is broken and must be fixed.

“The Toms buy-one-give-one model does not actually solve a social problem. Rather, the charitable act of donating a free pair of shoes serves as little more than a short-term fix in a system in need of long-term, multi-faceted economic development, health, sanitation, and education solutions. … The fact is, Toms isn’t designed to build the economies of developing countries. It’s designed to make western consumers feel good.”

People “helped” by Toms “are, in the long-term, no more able to afford shoes or address the real social, economic, and health issues that they face than they were before. Once their free shoes wear out in a couple years, the children Toms ‘helped’ will be just as susceptible to the health and economic perils associated with bare feet as they were before.”

“Toms can do more and do better,” Davenport says. She challenges the company and its consumers to make three changes. Read her proposals here.

Learn more about this issue by reading When Helping Hurts.

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