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Posted on Wed, Feb 1, 2012 : 6:57 a.m.

Call to activism: Stand up against cuts in social services when they are needed most

By Guest Column

First, I commend my friends and fellow activists working in education, social work, public and private non-profit help agencies, faith-based help agencies and any other help agencies. I say to you that you must continue to advocate for the people who need desperately the services you provide -- for their adequate funding, staffing, and advocacy from those in governance.

I also herewith share my very strong feelings about the federal, state and local governance we are experiencing right now as it regards our most vulnerable citizens. This is my call for you to ask: “Where is the love?” in their strategies and agendas?

This is my call to activism to you who believe that an advanced society and community must care about children, families, schools, the elderly, the ill, the disabled, the under-employed and unemployed among us.


Margaret Crawford

This is a call to pay attention to candidates and their agendas and philosophy. This is a call to attend a school board, city council or county commission meeting and insist that elected officials explain actions and votes in lay terms, loaded with logic, present clear information that justifies their action on any agenda referendum. This is a call for you to take the opportunity to tell elected officials during public comment space what is going on in your community during these very tough economic times.

Elected officials do not build community, people who live in the community do that -- people like you and your friends and associates and the consumers of services you provide. In instances more numerous than you can imagine, Head Start and other poverty fighting programs have empowered "ordinary" folks to transform not just their personal lives, but the communities in which they live. Does the prospect of empowerment of those who, by virtue of one demographic -- poor/working poor -- frighten or dismay those who have the power to change, eliminate, or, heaven forbid, enhance help initiatives?

I am alarmed that wave after wave of dashed hopes for the future of thousands of families served by venerable and proven help programs like Head Start, Food Programs, housing support, and other subsistence programs are seeing funding and staffing cuts which result in reduction in services. Programs like Head Start have fostered and shaped community support, community collaboration and community Involvement, and the kind of community empowerment that helps citizens help themselves.

A decision was recently made by a slim majority of the Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners to eliminate the proven model of a community program serving young children and their families. This program has endured in this community for decades, and has earned nation-wide exemplary status from funders, community partners and collaborators, and child advocacy groups nationwide.

Programs that work and achieve their missions should not experience interruptions, modifications or any kind of perceived political chicanery at a time when the need for services and the quality of service delivery has been validated for many years and is acutely needed during economic downturns.

I am appalled that some elected officials have determined that, generally, program modifications that reduce funding for staff who work in public and private initiatives and programs that serve families in crisis will help the economy. How wrong-thinking can that be? Framing and executing such illogical, poorly thought-out plans will increase the number of unemployed and underemployed, eliminate tax revenue from those who work and purchase goods and services, and have the other trickle down effect of weakening community businesses. That is not a difficult path to track. The time to study and develop long-term strategies for controlling the cost of government services and caring for the community is not when communities are severely economically depressed, but when communities are economically stable. Those able to govern wisely understand that.

Don’t be surprised when this thinking invades your local and state governance. The abdication of help for poor and low-income families and individuals is happening everywhere. There is a process of devaluating certain groups -- i.e. low-income, poor, unemployed -- through legislated reduction of services and support to their help sources. This is not a red or blue problem. It is a social consciousness problem caused by a lost sense of community engagement and a failure to examine the resume' of politicians for evidence of visionary leadership and understanding of community. It is fueled by the absence of community thinking among too many elected and empowered individuals and agencies whose responsibility is to build not weaken and fragment community structure.

Determine today that you will be aware of how leaders lead in your community. Speak up where the efforts of programs that support our most vulnerable, but still hopeful citizens, are considered dispensable or are up for some poorly planned “reorganization.” Such planned “reorganization” almost surely will lead to a weakening of the mission and proven results of such programs to change lives for the better.

Finally, to everyone working or serving in a help/service capacity, be creative, be energetic and be willing to exceed yesterday's good work. Do more than enough.

Margaret Crawford is a Sumpter Township resident with a decades-long history of youth advocacy in the western Washtenaw County and out-Wayne County area. She says she writes to applaud, encourage, and inspire those who work for a future of hope and promise for our young people.



Sun, Feb 5, 2012 : 2:30 a.m.

The U.S. Has spend trillions of dollars on the "war on poverty" and we still have poor people. What we are doing is not working. It seems we reward those who choose not to be a productive member of society. Which in turn creates more demand for services. We have an obligation to make sure those who are truely disabled and cannot work are not left to die in the street. Before the "great Society" programs churches and social service organizations like the Salvation Army used donations to help those in need. Now we have a political class that keep a subservient population in perpetual need in order to maintain political power. I have to question the concept of being poor, when they have cell phones, color TV and automobiles.

Liza Bock

Sun, Feb 5, 2012 : 2:06 a.m.

Here is some really easy activism! Sign this petition to get the youth's voices heard in politics (they share a lot of your ideas). <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> Thank you!

Hot Sam

Thu, Feb 2, 2012 : 11:18 a.m.

Government has proven to be a poor substitute for charity...


Thu, Feb 2, 2012 : 5:35 a.m.

I don't see anywhere in this piece a call to action for those who won't help themselves, or those who use fraudulent means to gain for themselves, or those who won't work, etc., etc. There are parasites in every social system. It's tiring to always see those few highlighted whenever there is a discussion about those who are most in need: homeless and unemployed veterans, the mentally and physically ill and/or disabled, the elderly, the hungry, and homeless families who, through no fault of their own, are in extreme need. While some people cause their own problems and expect help, there are many more who don't. Yet nowadays, even those who have done everything they can and are still in need are blamed for their own dire circumstances. There are more people bankrupted today due to medical costs than at any other time. People are losing everything, including retirement savings due to job loss, illness or any number of circumstances beyond their control. Those who have and criticize others who don't are living in a dream if they think it could never happen to them. It IS happening to THEM, all the time, now. And @stunhsif, God does love all of those givers that you mentioned. But He loves &quot;...the least of these brothers and sisters of mine...&quot; more. (Matthew: 25:40) I apologize if I've offended any non-believers of Christianity, Judaism, or other faiths.


Sat, Feb 4, 2012 : 2:38 a.m.

Lily...what do you suggest we do with the &quot;parasites&quot; in government employment that hide behind public union protection? Or do parasites only exist in the poor?


Thu, Feb 2, 2012 : 4:42 a.m.

Where are all those &quot;public&quot; unions when you need them?


Wed, Feb 1, 2012 : 5:58 p.m.

Talk radio ( Limbaugh ) has convinced many American that the &quot; Golden Rule &quot; is a bad idea. The unrest of the 1960/70s taught us not to trust government, and now that belief has crossed the aisle. What we have now is people that don't care and that don't trust government.


Wed, Feb 1, 2012 : 8:47 p.m.

Trust me Hank, Limbaugh has convinced plenty of people to vote against themselves. I'm glad your smarter than that.


Wed, Feb 1, 2012 : 6:57 p.m.

Limbaugh couldn't convince me to drink water if my tonsils were on fire.

David Briegel

Wed, Feb 1, 2012 : 3:35 p.m.

And according to the Curmudgeon Club, the scandal is that people get aid? Well, if one believed in the Judeo-Christian Ethic, the scandal would be that our fellow man NEEDS aid! All of which proves the point of dotdash's excellent post!


Thu, Feb 2, 2012 : 4:17 p.m.

Like the NEED for free cell phones/service?

Basic Bob

Thu, Feb 2, 2012 : 12:29 p.m.

To each according to his GREED.


Wed, Feb 1, 2012 : 5:41 p.m.

All of our fellow man needs aid or wants aid? Wanting something is a great motivator, giving it to someone who doesn't need it is a sure way to ruin a person.


Wed, Feb 1, 2012 : 4:11 p.m.

give a man a fish and he'll eat for a day, teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.


Wed, Feb 1, 2012 : 2:35 p.m.

This issue will drive the negative comments out faster than a hornet in a car. Do yourself a favor and read the post from dotdash a voice of reason.


Wed, Feb 1, 2012 : 3:18 p.m.

Where are their sources?


Wed, Feb 1, 2012 : 2:27 p.m.

The big picture is very, very alarming. It is currently estimated that nearly 50% of US households receive some sort of government assistance. Here are the stats up till '04: <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> Since then, the benefits have skyrocketed. Here, in a nutshell, is the crux of the problem: &quot;As with many other welfare programs, AFDC's costs were not capped because the program was an "entitlement"—meaning that qualified families could not be refused cash assistance.&quot; (End of second paragraph after figure 1) So, Ms Crawford, please be careful, be very, very careful, when you ask the Golden Goose to keep squeezing out ever more golden eggs. The Goose is nearly out of eggs, my dear. Then what?


Wed, Feb 1, 2012 : 1:45 p.m.

Margaret asks: &quot;Where is the love?&quot; God loves a cheerful giver. God loves those using free will that donate hundreds of dollars in cash to Saline Social Services at Christmas time. God loves those that donate watches,jewelry, dvd's and toys to Saline Social Serivces at Christmas time. God loves those that donate cars to Purple Heart at Christmastime. God loves those using free will that give money to charity even though they need a new roof and a paint job on their home. God loves those using free will that give money and goods despite the fact they are &quot;upside down&quot; on their mortgage. God loves those using free will that give money to charity despite the fact that they are helping their kids pay off student loans for college. They give money despite the fact they are clearly part of the 99% 'ers. They give money to charity because it makes them feel good and they are doing it without a gun being held to their head. We pay enough in taxes already, we cannot continue to run deficit's and think our children will not suffer because of our stupidity. We cannot continue to add billions of dollars to underfunded government pensions. Use Detroit as the poster child if you'd like. Give a man a fish and he will fill his belly once. Teach him to fish , well, you know the rest of the story. Go Green Go White


Wed, Feb 1, 2012 : 9:02 p.m.

Dotdash you are correct. It is not in the bible. That said, Stunhsif never said it was. It is a Chinese proverb that is very truthful. I'm guessing you support education, correct? And yes, Christ did say that. However, I am pretty sure he didn't say the goverment should be responsible of spending your money for you.


Wed, Feb 1, 2012 : 2:01 p.m.

You Christians are so wily, with your changing rules all the time. Cus I don't remember Jesus saying &quot;give a man a fish and you will only fill his belly once&quot;. Doesn't sound right. Oh, right, Jesus said, &quot;take everything you have and give it to the poor&quot;.

Top Cat

Wed, Feb 1, 2012 : 1:44 p.m.

Translation.....if you work, save and invest...did deeper and pay more taxes to support my agenda.


Wed, Feb 1, 2012 : 1:46 p.m.

I love your posts Top Cat ! Go Green Go White


Wed, Feb 1, 2012 : 1:37 p.m.

I urge tax gripers to consider their own situations before they point the finger at &quot;them&quot;. If you aren't paying at least $12,000 a year in combined state and property taxes in MI, you are not covering the cost of even one child's public school education. If you aren't paying at least $80,000 a year in federal taxes, you are not covering the cost of even one parent in a long-term care facility. If you get social security for more than 1/8 of the number of years you worked in your life, you have not put in the amount you will be taking out. The vast majority of us are net &quot;takers&quot; not net &quot;payers&quot;. So frankly, the vast majority of us should stop complaining about how much &quot;they&quot; are costing. We all cost each other. That is what a community is.


Thu, Feb 2, 2012 : 9:22 p.m.

Your reply is weak attempt to justify communism. The biggest issue is that government operates at massive deficit - so all the give-aways are borrowed dollars to be paid for by our kids- why don't people get that????? If you pay $10,000 in state income and property taxes for 45 years, your 1 child argument fails since its K-12, not K-45 - at least relating to your own kids. Also, you simply justify communism - put it all in pot and everyone take out what they need - social net? It's the Euro thinking and buying votes of the poor and unions by both parties that has created this massive class of dependents where welfare is a career choice. How bout we try putting a stop to people cranking out kids they can't afford to feed, cloth and raise. You have the Constitutional right to have kids 1-12 but you have no right to expect others to pay for your kids - none. Yet this welfare mind-set has created a cycle of poverty that will never end unless the brakes are slammed and people are made to pay a price for one bad decision after another - end most government safety nets. harsh reality needs to visit people in the formative years and their less -than - role- model parents need to be kicked off the government dime in a vivid way to show Johnnie and Katie that society is not going to take care of able bodied people who drop out of school, do drugs, have 3 -8 kids, etc. Otherwise, the spicket runs on, with minor adjustments to the flow, until this society collapses onto itself


Thu, Feb 2, 2012 : 12:22 a.m.

Don't believe you on Social Security... I will never get back what I paid in. If the rest is true this country and state are in an unsustainable Ponzi scheme, which means we should start cutting.


Wed, Feb 1, 2012 : 5:39 p.m.

Homeowners subsidize the education of non-homeowners and almost all certainly pay more than your estimated cost of an education. Most could get a better return on their money vs. giving it to he government. Your reply basically describes a Ponzi scheme which is becoming apparent to all tax payers instead of tax takers that this is unsustainable. Just because I recognize an unsustainable trend doesn't mean I don't care. I can care all I want but can't fix everything. There are limits to everything and we are nearing ours as a society.

Usual Suspect

Wed, Feb 1, 2012 : 4:34 p.m.

&quot;If you aren't paying at least $12,000 a year in combined state and property taxes in MI, you are not covering the cost of even one child's public school education.&quot; We don't need to cover the cost of one child on a 1:1 basis. There are many more taxpayers than there are children in school. &quot;If you aren't paying at least $80,000 a year in federal taxes, you are not covering the cost of even one parent in a long-term care facility.&quot; Except for the tens of thousands of dollars we're spending on covering the cost of ourselves or our own parents in long-term care facilities. &quot;If you get social security for more than 1/8 of the number of years you worked in your life, you have not put in the amount you will be taking out.&quot; And whose fault is that? Not mine. My own investments will last even if I'm around for 1/4 of my working years, because they were managed by responsible, accountable adults who were trying to make the money grow, not using it as a slush fund and replacing my money with IOU's that will never paid back. &quot;The vast majority of us are net 'takers' not net 'payers'.&quot; Which is exactly how progressive want it to be.


Wed, Feb 1, 2012 : 3:58 p.m.

The average cost of a semi-private room in a LTC facility in Michigan is $80,000 (<a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> Not that it's worth fighting over the details at that level. I think people *should* pay for their own relatives if they can. Good for your dad! But if they can't, and they depend on the state to do so, then they should not complain about what others get from the state. That is my point.


Wed, Feb 1, 2012 : 3:40 p.m.

You statements are false and are no where near factual, except for saying more people are takers than payers. But what happens down the road dotdash when we continue to have more takers than payors ? Dah, bankrupcy ! My mother was in long term care for two years and my dad paid 100% of the cost which was 55 grand a year.


Wed, Feb 1, 2012 : 3:36 p.m.

A comparison between the costs of benefits that you receive and the dollars you put toward that benefit. For instance, a parent receives a benefit that costs $11,987 per MI child (in 2010); compare that to the average contirbution and it comes up waaaay short. My figures are actually *extremely* conservative because, of course, not all your state taxes go to education for instance (only about 35%). But then there are a few federal dollars, etc., so it's a messy calculation. I'd welcome anyone else to do the math, too, but they will end up in the same place: most people do not pull their own weight.


Wed, Feb 1, 2012 : 3:18 p.m.

Sounds interesting. Where are your sources?


Wed, Feb 1, 2012 : 2:30 p.m.

Your post makes sense to me. Good job!


Wed, Feb 1, 2012 : 1:22 p.m.

I'm of the opinion that it is the Psychologists, psychiatrists and social workers that have created a monster in that people no longer have to be responsible for their actions. There is always a &quot;program&quot; that can make them straighten up and do right. More than likely a failing program that we pay for. Rehabilitation has become a lucrative industry. Therapy is &quot;in&quot;. Experts abound. Everything is excused now. And we pay for it through our insurance premiums and escalating crimes against us. Used to be people were taught right from wrong. People were expected to have a conscience and act accordingly. Parents did this. They took the time to be parents, not friends, and we all benefitted reaped the benefits through a decent society. Don't get me started on lawyers. They are the other half of the equation.

mike gatti

Wed, Feb 1, 2012 : 1:15 p.m.

Having worked at a non-profit and then for the government and then in the private sector (each for a decent amount of time), I have been able to see a few sides of this debate. I gotta say Mike the first commenter is right, working people absolutely get the shaft in a lot of way. However, it ain't by &quot;these people&quot; as he calls them. As far as &quot;entitlements&quot; most of the folks who qualify for these have nothing else. You ask what did people do before these &quot;entitlements?&quot; The waited in soup lines, panhandled, starved, etc. We've all heard about &quot;buddy can you spare a dime.&quot; I admit I have encountered and been infuriated by abuse but not at a rate or scale some politicians say and some people believe. There is abuse in any system (banking, mortgages, etc) You can disagree with me and that is certainly your right. However, this is one issue that I have seen from a lot of angle and unlike most things I am fairly certain I am correct. Just a reminder there are a lot of &quot;these people&quot; who never imagined they'd be &quot;these people.&quot; From what I have seen it doesn't take much for things to unravel.


Wed, Feb 1, 2012 : 1:43 p.m.

People used to go hungry and even starve to death. And die of preventable disease. And freeze. And as elders, be neglected and uncared-for. Read history; it was not so pretty. I highly recommend &quot;How the Other Half Lives&quot;: <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>


Wed, Feb 1, 2012 : 1:29 p.m.

&quot;what did people do before these &quot;entitlements?&quot; My take is we had much stronger family units that actually took care of each other. That is what people used to do. Men would often have to leave home and look for work to keep the family going, but they knew that they had an obligation to and support of a family. Things were hard, but the family would often be the lifebuoy.


Wed, Feb 1, 2012 : 12:48 p.m.

Why does &quot;Activism&quot; always equal taking more money from working people to redistribute it to others? Why can't activism equal more personal responsibility? I don't want to give any more of the money I earned to local or state government. In my experience, the &quot;Public Good&quot; usually equals enrichment of public unions, public workers or others with their hands in the public trough.


Wed, Feb 1, 2012 : 6:13 p.m.

How do you separate the deserving from the undeserving? How do you prevent people from taking advantage of the system? Tough questions. I have no problem with a safety net, I have a problem with in-perpetuity entitlements, I have a problem with people bringing children into this world they cannot take care, I have a problem with people who can work but are incentivized not to work..... We all suffer bad luck, set backs etc. (God knows, I have). People cannot see public assistance as a way of life.


Wed, Feb 1, 2012 : 2:39 p.m.

What about the poor, injured veterans, disabled, unemployed, injured at work, poor senior citizens or widows with minor children, etc. that need public assistance in any civilized society ?


Wed, Feb 1, 2012 : 12:28 p.m.

Although your concern for those in need is quite honorable and pulls on the heart strings you seem to forget one important point. While people like myself (underemployed) go to work, pay taxes, and receive nothing from the government in return the people you advocate for are consuming the tax revenues we pay. Instead of advocating for more efficient government, more reasonable pay for our &quot;public servants&quot;, less duplication and waste; I hear you expecting our elected oficials to create bigger government with more social programs. What did the Americans who founded this country do before we had all of these programs? Did they sit by the door of their dwelling and wait for a neighbor to drop off some food? No, they went out and helped harvest it, hunt for it, or did not eat. I personally know a number of people who choose not to work because they would lose their benefits. They expect those working to work just a little harder and contribute just a little more while they wait at home for their entitlements. What I don't understand is why they feel entitled to the benefits of others work. Don't tell me about how they are victims. We all have equal opportunities and yet many choose to do drugs, not work hard in school, not work hard at work, have children they can't afford, act irresponsibly, and more. Then the expectation is that someone will be there to bail them out. I believe you should be celebrating succesful men of color like Herman Cain, Bill Cosby, and Will Smith but all I read and hear in the media is total disdain for people like this. Why is that? What will happen in the future when those paying taxes are far exceeded by those collecting the entitlements? Does that seem sustainable? We've taken a model that has worked for 200 years and are slowly flushing it down the toilet and are now heading toward a model like Greece, Italy, and other socialist countries. This will soon lead to problems like they have over there. We need to wake up now or face t


Wed, Feb 1, 2012 : 5:35 p.m.

@just curious - I point out black men because I see and hear more black advocates speaking for the poor than white. But I do not see them holding up examples of successful black men for their children and peers to emulate. @Sparty - I do not use most of those things you have lsisted. National defense is one of the things the federal government is tasked with per the Constitution. Private schools are always an option. Social security is broke, the money has been spent on other government largesse. I don't know what turning on a light which is powered by a private utitlity company has to do with anything. Health care is in the process of being regulated and rationed by the government so that those who pay subsidize those that don't and will therefore be equally declined care if they are too old or sick. I'm OK with phasing out the home mortgage deduction but it will bring down real estate costs even further; we can thank the government policies for that. What do you want to discuss now?


Wed, Feb 1, 2012 : 4:39 p.m.

Sparty: There are aspects of this country that are social in nature and are required to sustain our economy, movement of people, and other apects of life. However, as Mike pointed out, the handout house should not be a way of life. It should be temporary until you pull yourself up and out of the down times. But that doesn't happen often enough.


Wed, Feb 1, 2012 : 2:35 p.m.

Did you not use public schools, librairies, utility transmission systems, roads, sewers, water systems, health systems, get protected by national defense, pay towards future social security and Medicare benefits, gets perks of tax benefits of home ownership, to name just a few things? You claim to receive nothing from your government, but if you turn on a light, drive a car, see a doctor, use water, flush a toilet, and are protected by a national defense your argument fails in elementary school.


Wed, Feb 1, 2012 : 1:48 p.m.

One of the best posts ever on, bullet proof Mike ! Go Green Go White


Wed, Feb 1, 2012 : 1:24 p.m.

Mike, you point out only black men whom you respect. I don't think this is a black/white issue.