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MN2020 - Tuesday Talk: Where do you stand on human services?
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Tuesday Talk: Where do you stand on human services?

June 21, 2011 By Joe Sheeran, Communications Director

Most conservative policymakers feel publicly-provided human services should only exist to keep the destitute from having to beg in the streets. But those trying to build a more progressive society see social services as an economic tool to help people pull themselves out of poverty, believing these programs should be well funded and available to all people in need. Such programs range from food assistance to health care for people with disabilities.

Where do you stand on human services? Should we have a robust system or should social services only provide basic assistance to keep people out of the streets? 

Thanks for participating! Commenting on this conversation is now closed.

34 Comments:

  • Les Phillips says:

    June 21, 2011 at 8:22 am

    Human services or human rights? I suggest that any service or regulation is, in part, an economic policy. When we talk about human services we encourage the idea that government is giving something to a segment of our society. In fact, the issue is really human rights, insuring a specific level of existence for all people: an assurance policy.
    I support a robust human rights structure that provides access to decent housing, food, heath care, education and protection under the law. Anyone accessing these programs is on a path to personal and economic and social betterment.
    The strongest society is one in which all its citizens are productive in some way. That can only happen if everyone is healthy, well educated and free to advance.

  • Mike Downing says:

    June 21, 2011 at 8:39 am

    The best “Human Service” that we provide is education. EVERYONE must take full advantage of our educational opportunities and become life long learners.

    CNBC recently provided a statistic that is VERY compelling. The unemployment rate of college graduates is 4% while the unemployment rate for high school graduates is 14%.

    Last week the CEO of Siemens said the American workforce is not well educated or well trained like the rest of the world.

    The American life style will erode as the American education system does not keep up with the rest of the world.

  • John Crampton says:

    June 21, 2011 at 8:54 am

    I agree with Les.  Human services are human rights. 

    Moreover, when we cut human services, it ends up costing us more in the end.  When we cut Medicaid, the poor show up in emergency rooms and they have far more serious cases of disease——it is far more expensive in the end than providing them with health care services that they can get sooner in clinics in their neighborhoods. 

    When we don’t provide for decent, affordable pre school for low income or even middle income children, it ends up costing us far more to try to remediate learning deficiencies, school failure, dropping out, getting involved in crime, incarceration, lost productivity, and lost income.

    But this type of economic rationality gets in the way of our crony capitalist system where the goal of the rich is to get the money to provide services but then be able to exclude people who are going to cost you money and cut into your profits. 

    Remember, public money is already 67% of total health care spending in our country. We spend twice as much as any other country of the world, yet we rank 37th in outcomes and have nearly 50 million uninsured.  This is no accident, but rather the way our vicious system has been deliberately setup to subsidize the richest 2%, and to hell with everybody else.

  • Terry Day says:

    June 21, 2011 at 8:56 am

    I am physically disabled, post polio and ambulate on
    brace and crutches.  It is expensive for us to
    go from point A to B.  Othopedic needs are expensive,
    braces, crutches shoes, accessible vehicle etc.
    My daughter has mentil illness and her lifeline is
    human services.  My sister is schizophrenic and both of
    them have benefitted from the social services, have part
    time work, new more effective drugs but the counselling
    programs have been life line!  It is life or death for
    most of us.

  • Anonymous says:

    June 21, 2011 at 9:17 am

    We have an adult son who suffers from addiction and related mental health issues.

    He has been through treatment several times with our help and has received other financial assistance, moral support and tough love from the family.

    But that has not been sufficient for him to get back on his feet. His ability to access various social service programs, enroll himself in county-supported recovery programs, and receive unemployment and health insurance under Minnesota Care have been vital to his ability to take charge of his life, become consistently employed, pay off his debts and begin to build a more stable and satisfying life.

    Rather than make him dependent on the government, the help he’s received has allowed him to become independent in a way he could not with his parents’ help.

    Because he is still working through temp-to-hire arrangements and has no benefits, the prospect of a government shutdown or reduction in Minnesota Care clients represents a real threat to his well being.

    He is working himself off the “system” as he needs to do, but the system dumping him and others like him will not be good for anyone.

  • Jere Truer says:

    June 21, 2011 at 9:39 am

    There are too many studies on the issue of human services to count.  But they all add up to the old adage, “a stitch in time saves nine”.  What that means is that by providing needed services now to people in need—especially the neediest—we save them have having an even greater need in the future.  Of course, need gets translated into cash and funding.  So for those who want to save money:  spend some now to help your neighbor out.  Otherwise you will spend a whole lot more later when she or he is in the emergency room… or out on the street.  Read your history books, people.
    We need to get back to what used to be our tradition of well-funded human services.

  • Retha Dooley says:

    June 21, 2011 at 10:05 am

    I believe in a “robust system” of human services.  Clearly not all people are created equal and many, many people need services for a variety of reasons.  The General Assembly of the United Nations states it concisely in Article 25 (1) of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights: Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.

    The “pendulum” has swung from “blaming” people for their circumstances, to acknowledging circumstances are not a “moral failing”, but are simply circumstances, and often out of the control of people, especially people with disabilities, back to “blaming” under our newly elected, extremely conservative legislature.  Our new freshman legislators want to cut any and all public social services not deemed by them to be necessary, some of course want to “privatize’ services believing the private sector can do a better job of it; I disagree with them.

    I believe that the role of government includes providing social services for persons who by accident of birth, or circumstances beyond their control find themselves in need of social services.  I believe in the words of the late Senator Wellstone; “We all do better when we all do better.”  I believe in a “robust system” of human services.

  • pat says:

    June 21, 2011 at 10:07 am

    I believe you can continue to give our citizens access to human services, but at the same time hold them somewhat responsible with co-pays or limit “soft services”; i.e., medical assistance access transportation, parking, meals, lodging - except in emergency situations—there is a lot of $ that goes into providing access transporation.  Another example is public assistance housing—they may already be getting public assistance benefits, plus reduced housing, plus food stamps plus medical plus daycare services if working and children at home—add that all up and it brings them to the same level as an average working individual so what is the incentive to work?  If they need daycare, it is reimbursed also while working (or at a very reduced charge) making working advantageous while the average working citizen deals with the stress of paying their daycare costs @ 100%—daycare subsidy programs are provided to moderately low/medium income familes—maybe in those situations, it would be more cost effective for 1 parent to stay home?  Even having them stay on MFIP would be more cost effective than paying out double the amount in daycare costs.  There needs to be a limit to what government can provide to assist people in need at the expense of other tax paying citizens—they are working hard and suffering also and watching these other families getting services for little or no cost.  Need more balance I guess is that needs to be done—don’t shut it down totally—but trim the services that are attached to it.

  • W. D. (Bill) Hamm says:

    June 21, 2011 at 10:14 am

    Prior to the public employee takeover of public services, our religious organizations provided a hand up for most people who needed it. It was the old adage, “teach a man to fish and you have helped him, give a man a fish and you have made him dependent”. Now we have a system with a vested interest in keeping many of these people dependend. In the case of the racist drug war we are actually undermining blacks, poor whites, and hispanics while creating large numbers of public employees who are again dependent upon keeping them in the system not helping them. Marijuana is the greatest example, a medicinal plant that has been used continuosly for over 15,000 years which helps explain why it is almost non alergenic and has no such thing as a toxic overdose level. Here in America though substances can not be legal unless they are lethal as all the top 20 over the counter and perscribed drugs are lethal plus alcohol and tabbaco yet not a single death related to the toxisity of marijuana. Keeping this medicinal herb illegal provides for as many as 10% of our public sevants with income. Now let us look at the adult addiction rate in this country to legally perscribed drugs. With 90% of all pain killers in the world perscribed to Americans and a very large number of public employees directly tied to this mass adiction for their income we have an almost uncurable problem. That coupled with our education system that is now by far the most racially and economically biased system we have ever seen outside the old south, yes folks we have a serious didconnect with public employees and their arrogant self serving beliefs and actions.

  • Mark says:

    June 21, 2011 at 10:17 am

    In the words of Joni Mitchell; “Don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know what you got til it’s gone!”, o it is with our social programs.  Take a look back to our situation after the crash of 1929, when we had very few programs to sustain the populous. Our nation only returned to prosperity with a dramatic increase in social services and programs to improve the lives of all in this nation.

    Think of where our state will be very shortly when we have a government shutdown.  No education. No healthcare for those without. No State Parks. No unemployment compensation. The list goes on and on.

    Social services must be sustained and improved.  We must take care of and care for our most important resource; our citizens, and not allow individuals to be uncared for.

    Our society continues to become more selfish, especially from those in the higher income groups who seem to scream in volumes that they will not accept any more taxation and demand a reduction in all programs, including those that made our nation an economic giant; Social Security.

    When will we accept the truth of the statement by Humphrey and Wellstone that “We all do better, when we all do better.”? If all in a society are cared for, that society will flourish.  If few are cared for, that society will perish.

    Let us strive to improve the lives of all, not just those who have been predetermined to live a life of wealth.

  • Tom Mason says:

    June 21, 2011 at 10:38 am

    I support universal health care, lets have a jar to buy an aircraft carrier intead of a benefit for some kid with cancer.
      How about the legislators give up their socialized health care first….
    Tom

  • John LaBreche says:

    June 21, 2011 at 10:57 am

    A good book on this is From Poor Law to Welfare State, which traces the history of social services, and the competing moral philosophies that ebb and flow but never go completely away. My view is that anybody may potentially need help, and the less humiliating we make it, the better.  The vast majority of people want to be useful, and have a strong psychological need to be so. A judgement of “laziness” is often based on inadequate information, or by the recepient’s concealment of clinical depression because of the social stigma.

  • Roxanne Ezell says:

    June 21, 2011 at 10:59 am

    The World Health Organization recently released results of a four-year study that showed 15% of the world’s people are significantly disabled. The 1991 U.S. Census showed that 19.4% of Americans live with one or more disabilities. The percentage of disabled people is higher in countries with higher rates of poverty.

      My adult son is one of those with multiple disabilities.  My husband and I are both well educated but neither of us had the skills to teach him on our own.  In the early days an occupational therapist taught him how to button and zip, how to pull a shirt over his head.  A speech therapist guided his early language development.  A physical therapist showed us how to keep his muscles limber.  A neurologist diagnosed his seizure disorder.  As he grew, these specialists collaborated with the special and regular education teachers at the public schools he attended.  At the time our son needed these services, we could not have paid for them ourselves. Thanks to federal law and state funding, thought, he got help when he needed it.  If we had had to pay for it ourselves, the help would have come too late.

    Today, thanks to another set of publicly funded supports, he shares an apartment in a group home and knows the dignity of working for an employer who appreciates his contributions.  The staff at the agency that provides job coaching and transportation (possible because of state funding), and the staff at his group home (which also relies on state funding) enable him to lead a life in his own community that is challenging, safe, and feels like HOME.

    Can those who want to cut funds for health and human services understand the complex net of life-long resources a person with disabilities requires to employ his or her God-given abilities in a life of dignity?  In the one unique and only life that each of us receives?

    I hope they will ask themselves **why** higher percentages of disability are linked in the WHO study to countries with higher levels of poverty. These resources cost money to provide, but the cost of not providing them is even higher.

  • Jack Sheedy says:

    June 21, 2011 at 11:19 am

    Human Services are as Basic as Police and Fire Protection.It is only the Conservative Group that thinks their personal Wealth and Welfare are Most Important. What goes Around, comes Around.I hope that I live long enough to see it.

    Keep up the Good Work Progressives.

    Jack

  • norm hanson says:

    June 21, 2011 at 11:19 am

    Having a bad day,are we?

  • Anonymous says:

    June 21, 2011 at 11:49 am

    I am writing to you to express my hope that a budget agreement can be reached to avoid a state shutdown.  State health programs such as Rule 25, MinnesotaCare, and Medical Assistance are very important to me.  I am 28 years old and a graduate of the University of Saint Thomas.  In my late teens I experimented with drugs and by my early twenties, I had developed a serious drug problem.  I was no longer employable and had no financial resources of my own to seek help.  Rule 25 funded several months of inpatient chemical dependency treatment, as well as methadone maintenance therapy.  After my Rule 25 funding was exhausted, I enrolled in MinnesotaCare. I was able to continue drug treatment on an outpatient basis.  Additionally, MinnesotaCare provided affordable coverage for medication and a psychiatrist to address my mental health needs. Since receiving Rule 25 funding and state healthcare benefits, I have been clean & sober for 16 months. 
    After several years of sporadic employment, I began working again.  However, the job market is difficult and my employers have not offered health insurance benefits or as a temporary/contract employee I do not qualify.  I am currently enrolled in Medical Assistance and am grateful for the continuing coverage I receive.  Minnesota DHS healthcare provides me with stability as I continue to work toward fulltime employment.  Without these state programs, I do not know where I would be.  During the past 16 months, I have repaired the relationship with my family and found untapped strength within myself to succeed.  There are people suffering who may yet have need for state health programs.  Please do not let state programs fall to the wayside due to a failure to compromise.

  • Lin Moeller says:

    June 21, 2011 at 11:50 am

    I just wrote my senator and representative concerning the shut down of the Minnesota government.  Where will that leave the elderly who are on Medicaid because they have outlived their hard earned money? Will they need to go out on the street without food and die? I believe our tax dollars should go first to help the needy who can’t work; the elderly and the children.  If a society can’t take care of these needs, it will not last long as a society.  Why do we have destitute people?  Are we not doing a good job of educating and finding jobs for people?  Hmmmmm.  As a
    former Head Start teacher, I know that many people do not want to live in poverty.  They want to work and give their children a better life than they have had.

  • Janet McNeil says:

    June 21, 2011 at 12:08 pm

    We all need to do our part for our neighbor.  God did not put us on this Earth to only think of ME. He put us here to help the sick, educate, feed, cloth, and shelter any one in need.

  • Mary Jane Addison says:

    June 21, 2011 at 1:10 pm

    I think all people should have enough food and a comfortable place to live.  They should have an opportunity for a good education, in adulthood if they missed it in childhood.  There should be libraries and parks for them to enjoy.

  • Terry Morrison says:

    June 21, 2011 at 2:38 pm

    Need exists and some factors are complex and get beyond inner drives like thirst and hunger.  Bake sales don’t work with needs that require skill, support from professionals and organized programs.  Need will not go away when budgets or funding is cut.

    I think of a long, skinny balloon.  When you squeeze it in one place it bulges out in another.  Need is only transformed and will manifest itself in other, more negative ways if support is cut.

    Thinking that some needs can be met by simple measures (pulling yourself up by your bootstraps) is incorrect.  That bulge in the balloon will not go away and becomes disorganized and chaotic.  Our civilization is then tarnished and devolves into classes - we lose our vibrant Democracy.

  • Ellen Ruffin says:

    June 21, 2011 at 2:54 pm

    Seems like an “either/or” question.

    I’d like to live in a society where social and economic justice were the goals instead of capitalist/egoist militarist profit.

  • Dana says:

    June 21, 2011 at 3:02 pm

    I always thought that “human services” (welfare in the old vernacular) was intended to be a “safety net” to help individuals and familys recover from catastrophy.  I have had friends and acquaintences that used these services in the past..and in all fairness perhaps I should have as well at one point in my life. I chose not to because I wanted my children to KNOW that just because they were eligible for a social program did not imply they HAD to use it. This resulted in a few financially difficult years in which they were full participants. I am sure it was not the unhappiest time of their lives..but there were no “meals out” or “store bought” presents for several years. It was hard for them to accept that though we worked very hard most of what we made went to our creditors while many of their friends parents just “put it on the “card” when they felt they deserved something special(but could not budget for it).

    It is possible that they would have had a higher quality of life those few years if we had not taken the harder path. But overall they learned skill and developed a long term outlook that has well served them to this day..and which they will hopefully pass on to THEIR children.  A legacy of self dependance may be something that is difficult to value.

    That said…I do not begrude anyone that DOES use the social programs of our state..with the exception of those who do so without making an honest effort to become more self supporting in the long term. Overall I also believe (from observing friends and acquaintences who have used MNs social services) that the administration of those services is very poorly run. Not only does this poorly serve the taxpayers of Mn ..it is a disservice to those it is intended to help.

    Finally, Any Social Service program must take into account the fact that there is a limited budget to pay for it. And in hard times innovation must be used if the program is to serve the larger segmentof our population that must be provided for in those hard times.

  • Brandan Fiedler says:

    June 21, 2011 at 3:10 pm

    Human Services are very important services to help people who are struggling to make ends meet.  There are things like Food Stamps, Medical Assistance, Group Housing Assistance, and the list goes on.  Not everyone has a good paying job because some people have jobs that only pay minimum wage and not a penny more!  People think that the rules are there to make people dependent on Government to provide for them!  That is not true.  The rules that the programs have are there so that individuals who are NOT eligible to receive benefits like food stamps don’t receive them.  Fraud costs you and me money!  Look at the stories of those who have been charged with welfare fraud!

  • Marty Pogalz says:

    June 21, 2011 at 5:36 pm

    What many people fail to realize is that more robust social services actually SAVE money in the long run.  By assisting people to achieve at least a minimal level of survival and providing Head Start or early childhood education, we are offering the chance for their chidren to do better than their parents, which benefits ALL of society.  Doing the opposite will result in worse outcomes for families.  We will pay either way.  Do people really want to pay for ruined lives as opposed to giving people a chance at a better life???

  • Bernice Vetsch says:

    June 21, 2011 at 5:52 pm

    In his 1944 inaugural speech, Franklin Roosevelt outlined his Second Bill of Rights, an Economic one noting that every person should be able to count on such economic rights as a decent job that paid a living wage (or a farm of one’s own that provided sufficient income).

    Richard Nixon supported a negative income tax.  The government would send checks for the next year to each person or family whose income fell below that needed to live decently. It would have been a way to reduce or even eliminate poverty while also dismantling the whole application-for-welfare-bureaucracy that social workers must spend their time on instead of helping people in the ways they entered their profession to do.

    In our time, we need a minimum wage of at least $25, massive increases in the numbers of low-rent apartments, health care, readily available and moderately priced public transporation, and the assurance that every child will receive a good education.

    Government should be doing all these things, and could afford them by reducing our bloated Department of Defense and the kabillions spent on weaponry in favor of this better way of Keeping America Safe.

    Those who underpay workers in order to enrich themselves or sell more shares on Wall Street should perhaps be taxed, per employee, for the difference between the $25 minimum and the actual salaries they pay their employees.

  • Karen Fitzpattrick says:

    June 21, 2011 at 7:45 pm

    I definitely think we need to provide human services funding to help people rebuild their lives and not just to avoid begging in the streets.
    Some of our programs like Food Shelves, secure waiting sleeping space, etc do just keep people from begging and sleeping in the streets, but most of the human services programs are to assist in rebuilding one’s economic well being. Transitional housing, job skills training, medical assistance are examples of services that allow an individual to become self-sufficient.  This benefits everyone, not just the client. These programs are investments in that client’s future and help the individual move toward becoming a productive citizen.

  • Mary Jane Addison says:

    June 21, 2011 at 8:19 pm

    I think we should provide good quality human services to everyone.  Head start is important.  It is also important for children to have all day kindergarten as our meals on wheels for people who need it.  Health care should be free for everyone as it is in some other countries.  I would also like to see colleges and universities have free tuition.l

  • Jennifer says:

    June 21, 2011 at 10:32 pm

    I work at a food shelf. I don’t think we’re doing much more than keeping people out of the streets (just barely) even now—let alone after the legislators have their way. Human services as provided on the county/state and Federal levels are bureacratic, cumbersome, restrictive, punative and at times completely counterproductive. Yes, we should have a robust network of services designed to empower those in need to make life changes. But that’s not what we have now, and we seem to be headed in the opposite direction. In this economy, I can guarantee you that every day, more and more people will find themselves without jobs, homes, health care, or food for themselves and their children. Is cutting human services really the logical consequence?

  • Dana says:

    June 22, 2011 at 9:40 am

    “Human services as provided on the county/state
    and Federal levels are bureacratic, cumbersome, restrictive, punative and at
    times completely counterproductive. Yes, we should have a robust network of
    services designed to empower those in need to make life changes. But that’s
    not what we have now, and we seem to be headed in the opposite direction. In
    this economy, I can guarantee you that every day, more and more people will
    find themselves without jobs, homes, health care, or food for themselves and
    their children. Is cutting human services really the logical consequence?”

    I don’t think so. But I think that most familiar with the current Human Services bureacracy on any level would agree that the programs and they way they are managed need a major overhaul. Those on the right have been beating that drum for years..but many of those on the left have not seemed to agree. Until there is bi-partisan agreement on THAT I don’t think it will happen. Which is why those on the “right” seem to think the only option is to dismantle the current system and THEN rebuild it using a more sustainable model.

    Is cutting HS funding the best idea in tough econimic times. No. But neither is simply pumping more and more funding into a HS system that is as poorly managed as the one we currently have. Until BOTH sides of the aisle agree on a plan to fix that the HS funding “tug of war” that has been going on for a decade will continue. And the people most harmed by the refusal of idealogues on both sides to put aside their differences and work on a sustainable solution will be those whose only ideology is to find a means feed and house themselves and their children.

  • Les Phillips says:

    June 22, 2011 at 12:08 pm

    I’m confused. Where do the Republicans and conservatives say anything about rebuilding Human Services or other government programs? The message that I’m aware is that government is too intrusive, too big, and with the exception of defense, barely necessary at all.
    Yes government programs are less effective that we’d like but that is because the budgets for these programs have been throttled back or cut repeatedly over the last 12 years. For example, the staffing of Child Protection services has been be stagnate or reduced while the need has steadily grown. Today, case social workers are overwhelmed with cases. They have time to deal with only the most severe cases. They do not have the time to preform the level of care that is often needed nor can they follow up on many cases.
    This is the case in all Human Services programs.
    The current system needs fixing not dismantling because those that want to tear it down have no intent to replacing it.

  • Dana says:

    June 22, 2011 at 1:24 pm

    Les Phillips says:
    “I’m confused. Where do the Republicans and conservatives say anything
    about rebuilding Human Services or other government programs? The message
    that I’m aware is that government is too intrusive, too big, and with the
    exception of defense, barely necessary at all.


    That would seem to paint ALL conservatives with a pretty wide brush Les. It certainly describes the far right (teaparty) conservatives..but I don’t think it fairly describes the majority of conservatives…or republicans for that matter.

    “Yes government programs are less effective that we’d like but that is
    because the budgets for these programs have been throttled back or cut
    repeatedly over the last 12 years.”

    Really…that’s the ONLY reason? I don’t buy it. Rarly if ever are the reasons for the existance of an increasingly poorly run beauracracy that simple. Simply throwing money at any problem almost NEVER solves it.

    “For example, the staffing of Child
    Protection services has been be stagnate or reduced while the need has
    steadily grown. Today, case social workers are overwhelmed with cases. They
    have time to deal with only the most severe cases. They do not have the time
    to preform the level of care that is often needed nor can they follow up on
    many cases.
    This is the case in all Human Services programs. “

    That is a clearly incorrect statement Les. It may be true for CPS (I don’t know enough about that particular program to agree or not) but it is not true for ALL HS programs. And it is the type of ideology driven statements that drive those on the right who might wish to work on bipartisan improvements further to the right instead.

    Those on BOTH sides have valid arguments. The problem is it does not seem to be a popular idea that BOTH sides have to work together to improve the way OUR govt operates. Those on BOTH the far right and the far left seem to have abandoned reasonable discussion for “solutions” that largely ignore the available facts.

    Remeber the saying “united we stand…divided we fall:? As a nation we have been “falling” for a while. At first so slowly as to be barely noticable. But it got faster quickly. The only question in most people minds seems to be whether or not we will reach terminal velocity or hit solid ground first.  Both indicate a acceptance the things are not going to get better.

    And unless we can teach ourselves to work together that may be the truth.

  • Pat Mellenthin says:

    June 22, 2011 at 2:29 pm

    Taken from a piece published in a piece by the Center for Self-Determination says it all…

    “The best of the current system gives an individual the SERVICES to get up in the morning. Conversely, by norming quality on key universal human aspirations, this individual would now have a REASON to get up in the morning.”

    This is not about “entitlements”...it is about basic human rights and human dignity. Minnesotans have always placed a high value on human life and have always accepted the social role of state and federal government to provide a “hand up” to those in need, or to provide for those who are unable to care for themselves.

    To value human life also means to respect human dignity. A commitment to human value and human dignity requires more than the bare necessities. It does requires a robust system that provides opportunities for people to pursue their human potential,  pull themselves out of poverty,  live a life of dignity in the community.

    It is also important to note that in addition to providing significant human benfits, many human services also provide significant econmomic benefits that we all share in. When we all do better, we ALL do better.

  • Helen Heitz says:

    June 23, 2011 at 12:35 am

    Pat M (posted 6/22) and Anonymous (posted 6/21, 11:49 AM) speak to the heart of this question. Human services that support a decent life for all members of a society benefits everyone in our society.  Government cannot (and probably should not) do it all.  But government is like the backing on a patchwork quilt. It allows each piece to do its part, while strenthening the whole.
    “Teaching a person to fish” in our society involves many things, including a good education for all children, from early childhood through “post high school,”  good nutrition from conception on, health care that maintains good health instead of putting out fires in the Emergency Room, a decent place to live, work that provides a living wage and some time to enjoy it.
    Religious institutions and private benefactors used to provide food and health care for “The Destitute.” But changes in demographics and economics make that impossible now.  Catholic Charities and Lutheran Social Services, for example, depend on the state and counties for help with providing medical care and shelter for those who need it. Food shelves, feeding stations and temporarary shelters began as a “temporary measure” by churches and other communities during the 1970’s Reagan Administration. Now they are taxed beyond capacity.
    Government-supported human services are set by legislation, which involves complex choreography between the legislature and an administration, complicated by the need to fund whatever mandates are made. Human services laws are complex layers of overlapping, often contradictory measures. Since 2000, maybe before, bi-partisan committees in the Minnesota Legislature have worked on moving toward universal health care in Minnenesota and ending poverty in Minnesota by 2020. Unfortunately, many of these legilators, Democrat and Republican, were swept out of office by the “no new taxes” mania of 2010. Some, like Republican Tom(?) Abler and Democrats Linda Berglin, Tina Liebling and numerous others, remain. They deserve our encouragement and support.  And our Governor deserves support for refusing to cave in to the shell game put forth as a “reasonable compromise.”

  • Les Phillips says:

    June 23, 2011 at 9:25 am

    Dana says about my previous comments that, “That would seem to paint ALL conservatives with a pretty wide brush Les. It certainly describes the far right (teaparty) conservatives..but I don’t think it fairly describes the majority of conservatives…or republicans for that matter.”

    I do believe that a broad brush is appropriate. I am truly at a loss to name one moderate conservative/Republican in Minnesota or the Federal government that is talking genuine compromise or is offering creative, non-destructive solutions.

    Who are these moderate folks? I will consider their ideas and, provided they are genuinely interested in a bipartisan effort,support Democrats working with them.

    About my statement that all HS programs programs have suffered like my example, Child Protection, Dana says, “That is a clearly incorrect statement Les. “

    I wouldn’t have written it if I didn’t have other evidence in mind.

    I need facts to consider and then I will accordingly adjust my stance. What Human Service programs have not been throttled back? Name a program that has adequate staffing and resources to preform fully their mandate?

    The budget decisions made in the coming days have the potential cutting critical services which in turn will result in making some people sicker both physically and emotionally, diving up crime, and killing the weakest and most vulnerable through neglect. This is not hyperbolic rhetoric. Compare the mortality statistics for poor and fixed income elderly against the availability of human services. Or, simply look at other countries with limited government and human services and see how their people are doing.

    This is not some exercise in theoretical political economics. People’s well being and lives are on the line.