“As millions of people seek government aid, many for the first time, they are finding it dispensed American style: through a jumble of disconnected programs that reach some and reject others, often for reasons of geography or chance rather than differences in need.” *
How often have you heard the statement, “We may not be perfect but we’re a long way ahead of the rest.” Perhaps you have heard, “America: love it or leave it!”
Words like these churn up emotions in such a way that someone somewhere usually reacts. The reaction is usually not very healthy.
Now; back to the subject at hand. The United States of America is broken. It has been broken for a long time. Whether you are liberal, conservative, or somewhere else on the continuum you know this is true and it has been true and it is not a new thought. This brokenness has been the focus point of many elections. Time after time politicians have decried the establishment of the welfare state.
Welfare was created to be there to help people when they were down and out. The intention and hope for this process was to be there for those in society who needed a hand up. Unfortunately with welfare came the entrenchment of the welfare system.
As I read the papers and watch the news I want to yell at the top of my lungs STOP! These days we seem to have government and community leaders failing to learn from the welfare programs that have become so cumbersome.
A new starting point is being designed that looks a lot like the past. What has never worked for millions of poor people around the world is now being touted as the best starting point for the U.S. citizenry.
STOP! The new starting point cannot be agency driven. It must be people driven. It must not start by saying what is the lowest common denominator for human development. It must idealistically identify that in a perfect world it is totally acceptable to raise the bar and expect people to strive toward making their own lives. Only then do community and government programs find their truest meaning.
The contract and bonus process finds its truest meaning in the same way. The starting point is that it is your life: take responsibility for it, become accountable for it. When help is needed it is then totally acceptable to ask for help. When help is needed it is then totally acceptable to offer your strengths as a part of the solution for yourself and others.
The building point for society is people responding to themselves and others. This mishmash of programs mentioned in the opening paragraph is the outcome of program first. Create the program, then tell people to hurry up and wait. Some, if not many, may get help. But it must be recognized that the program is designed to default to failure. While the “some” are getting help they are also becoming dependent on a pseudo structure. Many others are left to fend for themselves. It was with this group of people, the many “others” that the contract and bonus process was created.
There were many people outside the system. Some were waiting patiently for some form of aid. Some were looking to see how they could pull off a scam to their own benefit.
Both of these groups had traditionally fallen victim to the wait and see mentality of the programs in the system. There was a lot of anger and frustration. It was not uncommon to hear the cry of ‘fix it’. Fix me. Many people had become conditioned to wait and then cry out about being forgotten and overlooked in the system.
The contract and bonus process came as an invitation to say you have to stop looking at the system and look at yourself.
As I turn on the news and read the newspaper it is interesting to hear people say they want the government to come up with a solution. Fix it. Fix me. It is an interesting yet tragic response because these are the kind of words usually described as coming from the poor on the streets and welfare lines. Many in our society have defaulted to the same behavior they have condemned for so long.
The use of the contract and bonus process does not accept that starting point. The contract starts differently. It is your life. What do you need to work on today? The bonus is there as a support acknowledging that we all need help. The bonus allows a person to build a plan and when necessary to reroute that plan accordingly.
Many years ago I ran across a statement I have not forgotten. The pessimist is a person who only sees the tunnel in front of them. The optimist is the person who sees the light at the end of the tunnel. The realist is the person who sees the light at the end of the tunnel and the next tunnel. The contract and bonus experience is based on the reality that each of us are not beyond the ups and downs of life. We need to be accountable to ourselves and to others. We also need to know that if we need help to survive that help will be there. No one has the right to expect that greed will take precedence over human need. No one has the right to believe they are above all others. But we all should have the right and responsibility to build a life for ourselves with both giving and receiving in relationship to others.