Assisting the Poor:—a social worker’s soliloquy

Posted on December 24, 2010


Everybody knows that we must be charitable and help the poor.

But there’s the usual hazard.  How can we tell we’re helping the right poor and not the wrong poor?

The right poor need our help.  They deserve our help.  And we’ll help them, by gum!

If there’s money left over, that is, from not helping them.

The wrong poor don’t need our help because they can always get a job.  And if they can’t get a job because they have a tattoo of an eye on their forehead or slept in the alley the night before or there are no jobs to be had, why then they must rob, steal, beg, borrow, sell drugs, pimp, sell their bodies, or run for political office to get by.

And if none of that works out, they can starve or sicken themselves into a hospital bed.

I know that every single day a hospital bed expends more than twice a monthly welfare cheque, and that that seems an inefficient use of our precious and holy tax dollars, but the hidden moral costs, oh dear!  In order not to corrupt the poor, we simply must not change the system.

Knowing and understanding which poor to assist is a kind of science too complex to share with mortal humans, and the running of it can cost money.  Sacred taxpayers money.

And since the poor almost all wish assistance—although not always the kind of assistance we want to give—we need accountants and fact checkers and supervisors and policemen and people who answer the phone and advisory boards (who, even if unpaid, expect sandwiches and retreats) and deputy ministers and so on, just to make sure we don’t inadvertently help the wrong person—to the detriment of social order.

We also need people to give advice to the poor.  And since advice doesn’t come cheap—and that diploma on my wall didn’t come cheap, either, buster—and accounting doesn’t come cheap, and even answering the phone and being snarky to clients doesn’t come cheap, and deputy ministers definitely don’t come cheap, well, you understand, there might not be too much money left over to actually give to clients.

But if you want some advice, we can give you advice.

If you’re poor, you always need advice.  Everybody knows that.

And no, we don’t need another opinion about where we can keep our advice.