Thursday, June 09, 2005

Not a Luxury

While channel surfing last night, Sweetie and I happened upon "60 Minutes Wednesday." One of the stories was about a program in Baltimore that helps ex-cons leave behind a life of crime and addiction. (For video, click here. Then select "60 Minutes (WED)", and then select "A Way To Keep Ex-Cons At Home".) Sounds like a great idea, huh?

One of the questions asked was one of the "you know what people will say when they watch this" variety: You can't save everybody, so why bother trying? Why? Because a government doesn't have the luxury of picking and choosing whom to save, that's why. Government has to try and save everybody, otherwise what is it there for? As an individual, you can choose to turn your back upon the addict, the homeless, or the criminal. But a government cannot because it exists for everyone -- including the addict, the homeless, and the criminal.

Lately, it seems like our government has freely indulged in this luxury. I think that's why I've been so angry for the last five years.


Joe said...

I couldn't get the video to run, but there's a transcript available too. Sounds like a good program to me.

I'm trying to find a way to argue with you about the statement that "government has to try and save everybody" though. It seems to me that, sometimes, the state has to make decisions which choose one person over another. Some people just have to live with the consequences of their actions. And while there are a lot of services which the government ought to offer, I get mighty nervous when the government starts compelling you to accept its "help."

(One way to argue with you would be that the Maryland Reentry Partnership is run by "a nonprofit group called the Enterprise Foundation," which means it's not completely a government program. But why split hairs when theory is so much more fun?)

All that said, the last page of the transcript says that, over three years, The Maryland Reentry Project has admitted 193 ex-cons, and kept 171 out of jail. That's almost 89%. If we didn't do things with an 11% failure rate, hell, we wouldn't do anything at all.

tommyspoon said...

Joe, I said try to save everybody, not force everyone to be saved. Like you, I have a problem with a government compelling anything on anybody. I also have a problem with liberals who can't accept the fact that not everyone wants to be saved. They are as misguided as those who would have government turn its back on everyone.

Both sides are focusing on the wrong number, in this case 11% failure rate, instead of the success rate of 89%.

Joe said...

Which poses an interesting question, Spoon... since this is a private effort with such positive outcomes, should the government (of Maryland or the Feds) provide funding to it?

What if it were explicitly faith-based?

tommyspoon said...

Answer to question #1a: absolutely.

Answer to question #1b: yes, as long as there is no proselytization. And I say this not because of my aversion to organized religion, but because proselytizing is the last thing that the addict is going to respond to.