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Social Service, Social Justice

Updated on July 4, 2011

Can't Have One Without The Other--Or Can You

Soon after I realized that George W. Bush had intended to use 9-11 to advance a new American Empire, I stumbled on a 'Peace and Justice' mailing list for Central PA.  Like any on-line list, it gets spam.  A recent one was for a "savings program" that would allow people to save on groceries, etc.  In these economic times, such a program might attract some clicks.

One of the regular posters responded to the message by urging the poster to work for economic equality.  This got two ideas to rattle out of my brain.

The first is a divide I've observed between social service groups that provide food, etc to the poor and homeless, and social justice groups that work to try an deal with the structural factors that lead to inequality.  The way I see it, social justice groups argue that providing the services is treating the symptoms, but ignoring the disease.  Social service groups counter that by saying that social justice groups want to operate while the patient is bleeding to death!

Perhaps the two groups need to take a more symbiotic model.  Social service groups stabilize the situation and social justice groups work to rectify it.

But then my second question arose. Why are there so few groups that do both; I listed a few in the links and the now-defunct ACORN did a bit of both, but those seem to be exceptions. 

A lot of it may have to with the reliance many social service groups rely heavily on donations, donations that come from corporations.  To really try and work for economic justice by standing against corporate power would mean many social service groups would have to fight the same entities that keep them in business.  Government support may also be a bit dependent on how well a group behaves.

A good amount of social service organizations are affiliated with religions, especially evangelical flavors of Christianity.  Their lack of emphasis on social justice is especially paradoxical;  Christ spoke often against the wealthy and powerful, and of treating the poor with respect and dignity.  But even the Church needs people to bankroll it, and far too many may try to give themselves to both God and money. 

A more sinister reason behind all this may be that a true commitment to social justice would put many social service groups out of business.  What use would there be for a food pantry if folks were able to afford food?


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    • A M Werner profile image

      Allen Werner 7 years ago from West Allis

      Wow, very good. I noticed American Romance's interesting take. Last time I looked - food grows on trees - meaning, if mankind would stop using government, law and force to justify ownership of land, people could depend on the Lord, not evil corporations. People say the government is represents the people - so if people believe in charity, compassion and mercy, why shouldn't that be what the government does with its wealth and power? You've successfully stimulated much thought. Great job. Peace.

    • BobbiRant profile image

      BobbiRant 7 years ago from New York

      I resent the terms like: 'your kind' it resembles Nazi Germany so much. People like AR are beginning to now scare me. Little does HE know the GOP doesn't like 'his kind' either. They are out for themselves and could care less for him or anyone like him, except to use them as pawns much like Hitler did. Sad people indeed.

    • OpinionDuck profile image

      OpinionDuck 7 years ago

      Cheap labor is relative to the current economy where it is being done.

      Twenty eight cents an hour doesn't fly here, but in a country that has no work or the hourly rate is three cents then we have a more objective definition of cheap labor.

      Employers all over the world are known for their bad treatment of their employees. We had the same thing in this country at the beginning of the last century. To a certain extent we still have it.

    • LRCBlogger profile image

      LRCBlogger 7 years ago

      We do a lot of things through trial and error. Certainly you make an excellent point that perhaps there should be more groups that address both points, rather than one. I think it is a delicate balance, as you pointed out, if you become too active, you may lose your donors. For example, what if you taught poor people to eat healthier and at the same time, you provided healthy organic meals. You might turn to corporate america for funding but if you do to good a job, your going to lose funding from Insurance companies, Pharma, health care medical device manufacturers, etc. Can't make people too healthy, being sick is a profitable business for many companies.

    • TeaPartyCrasher profile image

      TeaPartyCrasher 7 years ago from Camp Hill, PA

      Mr. Happy:

      Or is Africa the next frontier for cheap, exploitable labor?

      (Now we're really getting off-topic)

    • Mr. Happy profile image

      Mr. Happy 7 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      Mr. American Romance, you really don`t have to worry about corporations much, they already left to South-east Asia where they can exploit child labour and make way more profit than they would any day inthe United States. You can cut taxes as much as you want and you will still not be able to employ a person for cents per hour.


      CAMBODIA’S GARMENT SECTOR 31 October, 2009` states that:

      `Key Findings on Fundamental Rights ( 6 Months to Date )

      Anti-union Discrimination 2 factory(ies) engaged in anti-union discrimination (1%)

      Freedom of Association 5 factory(ies) interfered with freedom of association (3%)

      Discrimination (1) 18 factory(ies) engaged in discrimination (10%)

      Forced Labour 0 factory(ies) used forced labour (0%)

      Child Labour 1 factory(ies) had underage workers (1%)

      Here`s a direct link if interested in more details to why manufacturing has left the states (mind you this is just some stuff that comes to light so to speak). It is because greedy maggots can exploit the workers in South East-Asia.

      With the collapse of the US Empire all corporations will be gone soon anyway. They sucked-out as much as they could out of the United States, Europe has strict rules, Africa is stillin ruins so their home for the next little while will be Asia and South East Asia, anyone who dreams of lawless rotten capitalism (with all the benefits of bribary, ignoring human rights and so on) go there. Nothing left in North America to drain.

      I forgot what I was even gonna say at first, I didnt intend to carry on but people just seem not to realize what is going on.

      I fogot the link:

      LOL ... Jesus coming back, Danny-boy is funny!

    • Daniel J. Neumann profile image

      Daniel J. Neumann 7 years ago from Harrisburg, Pa

      Tea Party Crasher,

      The scary thing is, a civil war really could break out. It's in the air, waiting for someone to carry the weight. My God, what's happening?

      History permeates common themes, it seems. I just wish we could for once -- just one time -- learn from our mistakes, from history. What we need is Jesus coming back.



    • TeaPartyCrasher profile image

      TeaPartyCrasher 7 years ago from Camp Hill, PA


      You expect someone like AR to think of that.

      Beck and Limbaugh don't tell him that, they just repeat what the corps tell them to do.

      It's just fun to present AR as an example of what passes for the GOPs 'base'

    • Daniel J. Neumann profile image

      Daniel J. Neumann 7 years ago from Harrisburg, Pa

      AR-15 (Bushong),

      If you're being serious, then the government already knows your plans.

      If you're talking about the tea party winning more primaries, then you're going to be oh-so-disappointed when it turns out they lose the senate for republicans. Woops.

      Who would have saw that coming? Most liberal commentators (including myself)? Huh. Weird that neo-cons don't listened to the other side. I just feel sorry for the libertarians. It was their movement, until violent people like you hijacked it.



    • American Romance profile image

      American Romance 7 years ago from America

      In your last paragraph, you almost got it! Give me a fish I eat for a day, teach me to fish I eat for a lifetime! Kill the evil corporations and you never eat again!..........You and Daniel really need to move to Europe so you can live the life of utopia you think your dreaming about! Thank God only a few more days before we rid the government of your kind and begin the process of restoring this country!

    • Daniel J. Neumann profile image

      Daniel J. Neumann 7 years ago from Harrisburg, Pa

      Tea Party Crasher,

      Excellent hub. You're asking the right questions. It's not that we should all stop socialist behavior like charity; it's that we need to do it differently, in a way that doesn't bankrupt us.

      Thanks for sharing this,