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The recurrent push under President Reagan for distinguishing between the worthy and the unworthy and for the voluntary and private sector to take on more responsibility for social welfare seems to reflect a turn back to the 1800s and the Charity Organization Societies.
Do you agree or disagree with this ideology? What similarities and differences do you see between the Reagan era policies and the Charity Organization Societies? Do you agree or disagree with their claims of worthiness, based on NASW’s Policy Statement on Economic Justice? Explain why.
Respond to two at least two of your peers by commenting on their analysis.
Peer 1 lilian
The Charity Organization Societies (COS) were established in the late 1800s to help those affected by poverty and that were in need (Stern & Axinn, 2017). The people running the Charity Organizations at that time typically believed that poverty was caused by moral weakness and that the poor should be helped only if they were willing to help themselves (Stern & Axinn, 2017). The Reagan era policies aimed to reduce government spending on social welfare programs and emphasized the importance of self-reliance and individual responsibility of the people who were partaking in the welfare programs, which was a similar thought process to the Charity Organizations (Stern & Axinn, 2017). I’d say that this ideology was an attempt at a call to action to help with government costs and to “rally the troops” – aka the Charity Societies/ Philanthrophies, (if you will) to continue to serve the people stuck in poverty. Our text says that during the Regan Recession the amount of people in poverty rose to 15.2% in one year when previously it was at a stable rate of 11-12% (Stern & Axinn, 2017). Something about that tells me that what they were trying to implement was not done correctly, even though they were trying their best to fix it all.
According to the National Association of Social Workers (NASW), say that economic justice is a fundamental human right (NASW, (n.d.). They have 5 set social justice priorities to address which are voting rights, criminal justice reforms, juvenile justice, immigration reform and economic justice and equity (NASW, (n.d.). In this set of social justice priorities there are four sub-priorities – health and behavioral health equity, racial and population-based discrimination, matters involving courts such as U.S. Supreme Court and federal judge nominations and environmental justice (NASW, (n.d.).
While I could not find the actual statement they made on this topic, I would say that we can look back at Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs. From the basics of the physiological needs people have – food, water, shelter / Safety & Security – health, employment, social ability / Love & Belonging – friendship, sense of connection, family/ Self-Esteem- confidence, achievement, respect form others/ Self-Actualization – morality, creativity, acceptance, finding purpose etc…. (Mcleod, S. PhD, 2023). Deficiency needs are concerned with basic survival and include physiological needs (such as the need for food, sex, and sleep) and safety needs (such as the need for security and freedom from danger), (Mcleod, S. PhD, 2023). Behaviors associated with these needs are seen as ‘deficiency’ motivated, as they are a means to an end (Mcleod, S. PhD, 2023). Basically, Dr. Mcleod is saying that the longer someone goes without these needs being met the stronger the desire to meet them will be, however when the need is met more or less it will go away and then things will move into helping meet the next set of needs.
Everyone has the capacity to move up in this hierarchy but people experiencing poverty more than likely will not be able to move up as easily or as quickly due to their life circumstances and if they have any mental health issues on top of that. Do I agree with NASW’s social justice priorities claims on worthiness yes, I do agree with them. They are making moves to help people take the next steps in those areas of social justice problems without making them feel like it’s a chore to help them or that they aren’t a person trying to get their basic huma needs filled.
Mcleod, S., PhD (2023, July 26). Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Simply Psychology. https://www.simplypsychology.org/maslow.html
NASW (n.d.). Social Justice Brief. Retrieved August 29, 2023, from https://www.socialworkers.org/advocacy/social-justice/social-justice-issue-briefs
Stern, M. J., & Axinn, J. (2017). Social Welfare: A History of the American Response to Need (9th ed.). Pearson Education (US). https://capella.vitalsource.com/books/9780134292960
Peer 2 Spear
President Ronald Reagan used the early years of his presidency to lay out a new direction for social welfare, one that would shift power from the federal government to the states, from the public sector to voluntary associations. For a time, the economic conservatism of the battle against inflation and the social conservatism of the battle over the family combined to form a powerful social movement that sought to reduce fundamentally the public commitment to social welfare (Stern & Axinn, 2018). This shift from the public to the private sector is like the Charity Society movement. In 1890, at the 17th annual meeting of the National Conference of Charities and Corrections, Josephine Shaw Lowell, who is arguably the most prominent supporter of the private sector, said that public relief should only be given in cases of extreme distress, “when starvation is imminent,” the Charity Organization Societies continued to grow in number and influence in major cities (Stern & Axinn, 2018). The similarities between the two ideologies from distant periods are convincingly similar. During both periods, the message and policy pointed toward private or not-for-profit administration of social welfare programs.
I do not believe that an individual should have to prove worthiness to receive the basic human necessities, and I believe these services should be private by the government and as a public good. It is hard to prove one’s worthiness when starving or cold.
The NASW is committed to economic justice and equity and has published briefs related to the subject—one of these briefs discusses reforming cash bail laws and standards. Pretrial detention causes harm to individuals in several ways, including worsening health, loss of employment, housing, custody of children, decreased contact with family and friends, and loss of freedom. Pretrial detention harms the imprisoned individuals and the communities that these individuals call home by losing their community members’ engagement and work (Henry & Wilson, n.d.). Suicide is a risk for incarcerated individuals. The most common cause of death in prisons is suicide, which is six times more likely to happen to people being held pending trial than those who have already been found guilty and given a sentence (Cohen, 2022). It can be inferred from the name cash bail that people with money can pay bail and be released from custody, while a person charged with the same crime who has no money will sit in jail until a trial happens or a disposition can be reached. It becomes evident that the cash bail system affects the poor more than the well-to-do. Paying cash bail disrupts everyone’s financial stability, and economic instability increases the risk of crime and violence. The burden of paying cash bail is frequently shared among individuals, parents, siblings, grandparents, friends, partners, and more extensive community networks (Cohen, 2022). Cash bail does not just affect the individual. It involves the family and the community. I understand why NASW is advocating for change. Cash bail is not an equitable system and can contribute to poverty for the incarcerated individual, the family, and the community.
Cohen, A. (2022, November 3). 5 Ways cash bail systems undermine community safety. Center for American Progress. https://www.americanprogress.org/article/5-ways-cash-bail-systems-undermine-community-safety/#:~:text=Cash%20bail%20disproportionately%20affects%20people,bail%20than%20their%20white%20counterparts.&text=Bail%20amounts%20for%20Black%20and,amounts%20for%20their%20white%20counterparts.
Henry, B., & Wilson, M. (n.d.). Abolishing Cash Bail to Promote Social Justice. Social Justice Brief NASW. https://www.socialworkers.org/Portals/0/PDF/Advocacy/Public/Social-Justice/Abolishing-Cash-Bail-SJB-June-2019.pdfLinks to an external site.
Stern, M. J., & Axinn, J. (2018). Social Welfare Enhanced Pearson eText Access Card: A History of the American Response to Need. Pearson.