Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Charity Care Doesn't Cut It

Woohoo! The much touted Conservative vision of charity care at work, folks. If you're a lucky winner, you too can be spared a life of searing dental pain. The old canard about how charities can equally or better handle basic human needs than a Democracy can bugs me.

In Muskegon County, local dentists volunteered their time to help poor and low income individuals with dental care needs. Last year they went on a first come first serve basis. 300 people showed up, bu they were only able to help 150.

This year, they had a lottery instead...meaning if your number was drawn, you got dental care. If not...well...

Last year the dentists set up a free clinic day on a first-come, first-served basis. About 300 people showed up, but the dentists could only help about 125. This year, the partners had a raffle to assign appointments.

These doctors and dentists and the folks helping them are fantastic people. FANTASTIC people. And the work they're doing is incredibly helpful to hundreds of people, sparing hundreds from lives of agony or an inability to eat hard foods.

But as a dream model for providing opportunity for all Americans, to helping Ammericans live healthier, more productive lives, holding a lottery to see who gets to eat solid food this year and who doesn't is pretty pathetic for the richest nation on earth.

This is as good as charity care gets.

I've mentioned another example before...the empty Salvation Army food pantries. After reading that the Salvation Army food pantry was running low and had to limit help to people, I went in with several bags full of food. I was SHOCKED by what I saw. I was directed to a room with rows of empty steel shelves. Far on the end, against the wall, were a few cans of beans.

"Is this everything?" I asked

"Yup. This is EVERYTHING."

This is not a proper or even viable model for feeding people who have no food. The obvious weakness is that a food pantry relies on food donations from a poor community in order to feed a poor community.

Charity care is not a viable model for providing the level of opportunity people need to reach their fullest potential, for providing the best nutrition children need to grow to meet their fullest potential, for helping people deal with intense daily pain that removes them from being productive.

Charity care won't cut it.

No comments: