The idea of creating a petition to reform some aspects of Social Services did not come to me until I received a suggestion to write one from SignOn.org -- the petition-initiating branch of the populist progressive group MoveOn.org.
So now that I've agreed to launch it, what do I hope to get from doing so?
In a word, CLOUT.
Okay, then why do I want CLOUT and what do I expect to do with that?
First of all, it is very difficult for a simple private citizen like myself to get the attention of the politicians and bureaucrats who run a large entity like Social Services. (Throwing a brick at their window didn't help -- but that's another story/play...).
Now, the above mentioned 'Pols' and 'Crats' make a fairly decent income for running Social Services. I, the petition-slinger, have no interest in doing their jobs for them for free (nor would I want to do it even for money). Nor do I want to get personally involved in the homelessness situation (again). I'll explain that shortly.
A person working in/for the Social Services system is not in a position, nor does he or she have the power, or CLOUT, to initiate changes. If you have ever had the pleasure of being in the Emergency Services office of Social Services, then you know that the people working there feel pretty much like they are the small band of Injuns getting overwhelmed and run over by the Calvary in an epic John Houston Western. Reform What?!
Those who work there also have never been on the other side -- receiving Social Services. They know how to dole out what the state has to offer someone in an emergency situation, and how to smile and say 'Good Luck', or 'Have a Nice Day,'. But they have no actual idea of what it would be like to try to not only survive on the assistance given, but, and even more importantly, to try to get one's life back on track so you won't be visiting them again -- soon, or ever. (Now, that's a Nice Day!)
So the social worker doing the ground work is too overwhelmed by the sheer number of people they have to serve in order to have time to think about how to change things. Plus, they don't know what to change because they have never experienced what it is that might need reforming ( or changing). And certainly the higher up politicians and bureaucrats don't have any better perspective on the situation.
So then who or what is to step in? 'It's a bird, it's a plane...'. Nope. Wrong movie again. It's your humble petition-slinging private citizen.
And how did the petition-slinger get such a special perspective? Well, this petition-slinger also happens to be an author, and perhaps a bit of a masochist, because he wrote a book on the subject: An Odyssey in the Great American Safety Net. So if you enjoy gory details, read that; but suffice to say, as the title of the book indicates, that the petition-slinger has first-hand knowledge of the workings of Social Services. (Or as Jimmy Hendricks would put it: He's Experienced.)
But as this petition-slinger wrote earlier, he does not want to either work for Social Services or be personally involved with the homeless. Well, that certainly deserves some explaining?
In a nutshell, (again I refer you to the book if you prefer the fruit of the nut) if you've ever lived through it --an 'Emergency' -- you do not want to revisit it, up close and personal. It is simply not healthy to do so.
Which gets us back to the petition. If the petition-slinger can get enough signed petitions to earn some CLOUT, he can then, from a safe personal distance, explain to the 'Pols & 'Crats' about some very simple changes they could initiate that would allow the state to get more bang for its bucks, and those in need to get more realistic and fruitful help.
Here's the petition. Please consider signing it and passing it along:
Help Improve Social Services to Reduce Homelessness