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Interesting article about how Bush's "faith-based initiative" spending is increasing as he slashes traditional anti-poverty programs:
Both Sacred Zion and the Druid Heights corporation are engaged in the type of "social entrepreneurship" encouraged by Bush, who says both faith-based and secular groups play a vital role in the difficult task of bringing relief to the distressed and impoverished. But the president's budget proposals say something else when it comes to the nation's fight against poverty.
Bush has pushed for increased funding for religion-based groups while proposing deep cuts for many traditional anti-poverty programs. The result is that many small church- and community-based social service programs are slowly assuming the lead role in the war on poverty once held by long-established community development organizations. Administration officials say that faith-based groups are often less expensive and more effective in helping the needy, a contention that traditional service providers challenge.
"By any account, the administration's initiative has made it easier for a broader range of faith-based programs to apply for federal funds, and we appreciate that," said Douglas Rice, director of housing and community development policy for Catholic Charities USA, whose local affiliates have benefited from the shift. "But if you don't substantially increase the resources that are available, this is going to increase the competition for available funds."
Bush's 2006 budget proposed slashing public housing subsidies, food stamps, energy assistance, community development, social services and community services block grants -- programs that for decades have constituted the federal anti-poverty fight. While congressional budget makers have promised to restore some of the funding, they also have agreed to the president's tax cuts and overall spending targets, meaning there will be stiff competition for a shrinking pot of money.
While the anti-poverty groups are confronted with an uncertain future, church-based organizations that often provide similar services but often have less experience are flourishing.
"It is almost as if we're being replaced," said Cornish, who started out with the Druid Heights organization as a volunteer when it was formed 31 years ago. She became director in 1989. "Potential cuts or talk of it wakes up everyone. It takes you off course. And it leaves you wondering, 'Why?' "
Why? Maybe because the country has been taken over by religious fanatics who think poverty is caused by a lack of religion and not a lack of resources? Because they don't want to address any real causes of poverty, like corporate greed and stagnant wages and inferior schools? Because they want to force everyone who's looking for a hot meal to find Jesus first? Because the traditional nonprofit world is generally staffed by left-leaning folks who must be punished for being left-leaning? Because people who think "the government" shouldn't help the poor and "charity" should don't realize that a lot of charities get a substantial chunk of their funds from government grants and private donations will never make up the shortfall? Because the whole damn country is being dragged down by anti-sex, anti-science dipshit zealots who think federally funded abstinence training and prayer are going to stop AIDS and teen pregnancy and poverty and addiction and violence?
Though perhaps I'm being paranoid, and everything will turn out A-OK.
This morning's sleepy post-waking, pre-rising chat, as it rained outside:
Jim: You ever notice how it stops raining when the sun comes out? I wonder why that is. Maybe science can explain it.
Me: Not science -- Jesus. Science oppresses Christians.
Jim: Why do the facts hate Jesus?
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