Most government assistance programs come from the US Federal Government or are subsidized by the US Federal Government in the form of government grants, tax write offs or interest free loans that are only paid back with excess revenues at the end of each fiscal year. The third option is rarely used and is available less often as it forces non-profits to compete with established businesses and has a negative effect on the economy.
With a little work and better guidelines the interest free loan can probably be a successful option for areas of government that have a shortage of labor. A person with a dual degree in government and business as well as some managerial experience in a corporate or business environment would be eligible to take on a loan and work to build up an agency with the goal of paying off the loan and meeting the development goals of the US Federal Government for that area of policy. When the loan is paid off, the non-profit would become an official government agency and the founder would be the director of the program. Currently there are some businesses that started this process when guidelines weren’t clear and the entirety of US legislation was still being examined on a nationwide basis. I would suggest that they be grand parented in. Going forward however, each of these organizations would be established as a non-profit from day one with clear goals set as to policy expectations and budgeting goals.
Going back to established federal assistance programs, many of the programs are administered by states, by local counties or directly by cities. In some cases, non-profits are allowed to administer parts of federal assistance program but this could get ugly when they start competing with businesses directly because they ran out of funding and are desperate to meet the payroll for their staff or keep a handful of people enrolled in their programs because participants would no longer qualify to enroll in one of the new programs and transfer criteria was never set. Often times the director has taken out a personal loan to allow a handful of participants to successfully complete a program whose funding was cut with no notice and with participants still enrolled in the program. This is where the idea of interest free loans actually came from but it was initially a band-aid rather than well thought out policy. Realistically, non-profits should be preparing underdeveloped communities to enter the business world or to self manage their own governments. They should never be competing with the private sector for business as they are two completely different “markets” or more appropriately, two different areas of economics.
Two of the most popular federal programs that most people rely on at some course in their life are job training and food stamps. Housing assistance and medical treatment are also two essential items that everybody in the USA who is a US Citizen should have access to but these programs are less standardized and the guidelines are less clear. Often times, the section 8 program and medicare are only offered to women and children and while this is very altruistic, it is definitely a form of discrimination against single males and many times even single females both of which need stable housing in order to start families.
Work, housing, sustenance and medical care are essential services and in developed nations at the pinnacle of society; they should be considered basic necessities. In the wild; basic necessities for survival are food, water and shelter. Housing and food would definitely fall within these categories and in the developed world, people need to work in order to pay for housing and food so job training would be a pre-requisite to obtaining those basic necessities in a developed nation. Medical care is also essential in the developed world and for healthy adults between 20 and 40, which is coincidentally the primary working age, medical treatment is not to expensive. It consists of a yearly physical, yearly optometrist exam, twice yearly dental cleaning and inexpensive over the counter medications for colds, flus, cuts, scrapes and bruises. Several years of consistent yearly health checks yielded costs of less than $500 per year and the IRS allocates a $52 a month or $624 tax write-offs so for a large portion of the population, medicare is already paid for through our existing tax system.
This is going to be a series of seven posts including this one; introduction, housing, food stamps, job assistance, healthcare, lifeline program and conclusion.
I ended up encountering the life line program as part of a housing and job placement assistance programs so I added it in there because I collected lots of good info and it should probably be integrated into a communications category with rural broadband and internet/cell phone congestion in big cities like Los Angeles and New York.
So, read the posts and think about how our tax money is being spent, try and review the federal budget on a yearly basis and write Congress regularly to suggest data based changes to the way our government functions. If you have good ideas but no data yet, it would probably be good to start talking amongst your community first or writing a brief one page letter to the appropriate federal agency in Washington D.C. Nowadays, they often take the letters via email or have a webform on their website and it’s been my experience that I get an electronic response within one business day in most cases and in rare cases, I’ll get a response in no more than one week from day of submission.
My research was conducted in Sioux Falls, SD and Los Angeles County, CA so one rural location and one urban location but it should be useful to anybody in need of social services or to policy makers as I conducted the research with national standards in mind. The research also did not start off with the intention of research, I just got myself into a predicament and saw an opportunity to gather useful information that could help everybody. Enjoy the series.