Hope in God (I)

…it is such an important aspect of education to challenge the legitimacy of this widespread extension of state power. We have to begin to train the next generation to recognize that this expansion was never legitimate, and should never have been supported. There has to be a rethinking of the moral foundations of the culture with respect to the expansion of the welfare state. The next generation needs to be convinced that there are institutional alternatives to the welfare state, and these alternatives are legitimate. Not many people are involved in preaching this message of deliverance. This is why every little voice counts.[1]

Resisting the preposterous claims of the welfare state, when so much of the community is dependent on the welfare state, won’t grant you instantaneous popularity today. Those who have their snouts in the trough of government money will not love you and send you bouquets. And of those who don’t, many find the notion of a reduction, let alone an elimination in welfare to be a confusing or baffling suggestion.

But then, when the whole superstructure comes crashing down never to be re-built, it is critical there be individuals and organisations who had identified its inherent flaws, saw the cracks in the walls widening, and articulated/explained the need for massive change, and how to go about it.

The change must firstly be one of attitude. Welfarism has always promised much but provided little, unless you were a bureaucrat or politician. What has given welfarism away initially to Christians has been its consistent atheism, its hostility to marraige and the family, and the persistent gulf between its promises and its performance. Can any society deny God and survive, long-term?

We have had to trust that welfarism couldn’t survive whilst almost daily, the cracks and flaws in its superstructure seem to widen locally, nationally and internationally.

The Europeans where welfarism began under Bismarck in the 1880’s, are locked into a spiral of decline due to centralisation, massive government debt, high taxes, along with futile government attempts to manipulate the economy to health, that haven’t and cannot work.

Japan has experimented yet again with massive doses of Keynesian economic shock treatment, which have made the patient begin to lose his hair and colour, and feel more sickly than before. Now he’s saying, “Dr, I feel terrible!”

The US is mired in debts and stupid wars, and is so far into the tunnel there is clearly no light, especially at the other end. And no one at a national level has an appetite for change, or sees that the freight-train is nearing the precipice.

“Problems? What problems?”

I do not think the present ideology in favour of the welfare state can survive the demise of the finances of the welfare state.[2]

There will have to be individuals and institutions ready, when it finally goes pear-shaped. Preparation is firstly theological, spiritual and ideological, before it is anything else. Just like the Pauline epistles, we have to begin with the theological and ideological, then move onto the practical, and it all has to be fundamentally Christian in outlook.

The promise of the gospel is clear:

A bruised reed He will not break and a dimly burning wick He will not extinguish; He will faithfully bring forth justice. He will not be disheartened or crushed until He has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands will wait expectantly for His law (Isa. 42:3-4).

This is why we can be confident and have hope, because the promises of God apply today, just as they did when Matthew quoted from this passage in Matthew 12:18-21. Yes, ugliness will certainly come when the system we have known for so long in the West comes unglued.

But if we believers in Jesus Christ can understand that this has been the result of generations of rebellion against God, we may very well be able to lead the world out of the hole it has dug itself into, with Biblical solutions to the challenges of education, health and welfare, to name just a few.

This is what we have to be prepared to do, and it begins with an ideology of freedom and Biblical responsibility, something almost unheard of today, except by people of the Bible.

Are you ready for that?

 

 

[1] Gary North, “Cracked Walls and State Legitimacy,” (www.garynorth.com), 21/11/2014.

[2] Gary North, “The Setting for Serious Reform,” 17/5/2013.

A version of this column originally appeared in:

Arizona foster-care numbers rose over decade, as national numbers fell

Advocates hold photos of foster children during an April 2013 rally af the Arizona State Courts bulding in Phoenix. WASHINGTON – Arizona saw the number of kids in its foster care system rise significantly from 2002-2012, a time when most other states were posting sharp drops in their foster care rolls, according to new federal data.

The report by the Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families said Arizona was one of 11 states with an increase in foster children and one of only two – along with Texas – with significant increases.

Arizona had the second-largest increase in the nation over the decade, adding 7,296 children to Texas’ 8,294. There were 15,751 foster kids in Arizona at the end of March, according to the latest numbers from the state.

Advocates said the numbers are more evidence of a state foster care system in crisis, one that has been “overworked and overwhelmed” as budgets have been cut.

“There was a perfect storm of things – the recession hit, the budget cuts had to be made and so more kids were coming in to care,” said Russ Funk, director of marketing and family recruitment at Aid to Adoption of Special Kids.

State officials said there is no one reason for the increase, but expressed confidence that recent improvements will have an effect.

After reports in late 2013 that more than 6,000 foster-care cases had not been investigated, Gov. Jan Brewer created a Child Advocate Response Examination (CARE) Team of lawmakers, advocates and state officials to oversee those cases and monitor Child Protective Services.

And the Legislature this spring voted to give oversight of the state’s foster care system to a new Department of Child Safety.

Jennifer Bowser, a spokeswoman for the new department, said she has seen improvements made “all over the place” to the state’s child care system since the agency’s creation.

Bowser said the state is revamping its training process for caseworkers, has reviewed legislation for additional staffing and is making significant progress on backlogged cases.

The 15,751 children in out-of-home care this March represented an increase of 714 children from the previous year, according to the state.

While the state is attempting to improve the child protective services system and provide more preventive services, families are still faced with challenges that put them in difficult situations – situations that can lead to their children being placed in foster care.

“There are a variety of different reasons that children become neglected or put at risk of being neglected when their parents are struggling,” Funk said.

Beth Rosenberg, director of child welfare and juvenile justice at Children’s Action Alliance, said the increases are occurring because of a system that has been “overworked and overwhelmed.”

“We were bringing more kids in to the system than the kids were leaving the system,” she said.

Funk said a prime factor for the surge of children in the Arizona foster care system was budget cuts during the recession that led to reductions in preventive services, such as parenting skill workshops and addiction rehab support.

And while the system was gaining kids, Funk said, there are “fewer caseworkers handling more cases with less services in place to help return those children” to their families.

Bowser agreed that socioeconomic challenges and substance-abuse issues could make it more likely that a child is removed from his or her home.

“If we can provide more prevention services – early intervention services – the hope is to not have the children need to be removed,” she said.