Not long ago, no politician could get away with asking churches to do the anti-poverty work that normally was the responsibility of government, let alone that they could cure drug addiction, feed the homeless, rehabilítate crimináis or support the poor. Yet with, "the end of welfare as we know ft," there is the beginnings of a second welfare revolution. Let churches and charities, not the government provide the social safety net. The Republicans recently proposed and have endorsed a plan to shift tens of billions of social welfare dollars to direct tax credits. The Democrats also took up the new battle cry, "Down-size the poor," and together they have proposed that the money would be reimbursed to taxpayers who dónate up to $500 to poverty-fighting charities. The potential is unregulated distribution of monies in an unfair manner that would further deplete scarce resources to the poor. Worse, counting on charities ignores history: the governmental social safety net grew because churches and volunteers could no longer deal with the entrenched poverty, the demands of a mobile society and ainaway health care costs. Charities are already overburdened and are currently receiving 37% of their funding from government along with $1 43.9 billion in donations. Yet, as in Dickens' time, charity isn't sufficient; it wasn't sufficient in Hoover's time and it's not sufficient now. In this season of giving, are we willing to give to chance, to invite chaos to dine at the table of those who most need our support only to leave the hungry wanting of sustenance? Remember, it's the giving that counts, but who's accountable for the giving should be our ultímate goal in eradicating hunger and homelessness.
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