Conservative is not a dirty word, and neither is liberal

I know, I know, it's such a taboo subject, but sometimes I just can't help myself.

The longer I am a social worker, the more conservative I become, at least economically so, though I still remain about as socially liberal as one gets. Now before you go all, "Oh my GOD! Social workers can't be conservative, that's blasphemy!" Hear me out. And let me also say that social workers are among the few professions that can intelligently comment on matters such as these.

I was once under the impression that government programs were the answer to every problem in America. I was a little naive. Sure! Take my hard-earned tax dollars and use them to support your twenty children, there's obviously some deep and underlying problem that's caused you to HAVE twenty children that working America supports, other than your failure to seek birth control or abstain from sex. Sure! Go take this hand out and use it to tar your lungs with cigarette smoke, and while you're at it, visit the crack dealer on the corner.

No. I believe our approach to such problems must be proactive and not reactive. I would much rather see my tax dollars put into a program to educate young girls on the importance of birth control than pay for their tenth baby's Medicaid.

We operate within a flawed system, we try to solve problems by throwing more and more money at solutions that do not work. We must reconsider the structure of the system we use.

Please do not misunderstand, there are plenty of individuals in this country who benefit from government aid. I see them everyday, and I wouldn't (and do not) think twice about helping them out. For example, the client who lives in a shack with ten sisters and brothers and her parents. It isn't her fault her parents had ten kids the government had to pay for. She should not be punished. In fact, the only way such a cycle will end is if we do reach out to people like her in an effort to show her that what she has known doesn't have to be all she ever knows.

I have some faith in government programs, otherwise I wouldn't be in the profession that I'm in. I guess you could say I'm just a bit more cynical about it now.

And I certainly don't coddle my clients. They do have barriers, barriers that most of us cannot imagine living with on a daily basis, but if you show up at my desk and say you're ready to work, then you better act like you are ready to work--- call if you're going to miss an appointment, realize that job searching is more than just the one hour sessions you have with me a week. Yes, I still feel empathy and compassion for you, but you have to be able to show me that you are at least willing to try to overcome your barriers.

I believe in a hand-up, I do not believe in a hand out. That's on Goodwill's website, and I could not agree more.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, however, I despise the type of thinking that says that, no matter what, 100% of the time, regardless of the kind of trouble you've come to in your life, you should be able to pull yourself up by your bootstraps and move on. It isn't always that easy, and in order for this country to thrive, we must care about the common good of our neighbors.

I hardly affiliate enough with Conservatives to register as a Republican, but I just wanted to point out how easy it is for your ideals to change once you actually witness something firsthand. I never thought I'd ever use the word 'conservative' to describe any part of my political affiliation, but I have, and I'm not afraid of it. Everything in moderation. Including government programs that often enable the problem from the get-go.

*Steps off soapbox*