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View from the Cordillera

A Commentary on Achieving Excellence in Local Government
Read by Municipal Leaders on 4 Continents
Published by the Cordillera Institute

Reforming Social Programs
Public Welfare: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow (Vol. 3, Issue 15)
In this commentary, we revisit the controversial subject of public welfare.  While public welfare is the sole responsibility of senior government in some jurisdictions, in others, local-government agencies share that responsibility or are totally responsible for it.  Yet, even if your municipality has no responsibility for welfare today, that situation may well change tomorrow.  But, before we look ahead, we review a brief history — to see how we came to be where we are today.  Then, we assess how these programs have performed and note what went wrong.  Next, we see if welfare reform has delivered as well as identifying who is driving the opposition to real reform.  With the results of that analysis in hand, we turn our attention to examples of past success.  So, how can we create a brighter future for those needing assistance, for local government which may be required to deliver that assistance, and for the public who must pay for it all?  This commentary concludes by offering the basis for a new public-welfare model to do just that and by describing what should be included in that model.

Public Welfare: The Independence-Development Model (Vol. 3, Issue 16)
This commentary begins our examination of a new model for public welfare.  Since its purpose is to lift people out of dependency and assist them to become self-supporting, I refer to it as the ID (Independence-Development) Model.  This model is designed to be used by your local government whether you now have responsibility for welfare delivery or if that responsibility now rests with your senior government.  It's based on what Osborne and Gaebler describe as the optimum role for government — steering while others row.  To start, we lay out a process for choosing the desired results.  Next, we discuss who should be served by this initiative — and who should be excluded.  Then, we turn our attention to defining earned income and deciding where to draw the poverty line.  With these basic elements of the model defined, the question becomes how to apply the model so as to achieve the desired results.  This means choosing the right incentives.  We list 5 as well as 6 measures to judge the performance of the IDOs (Independence-Development Organizations).  The commentary concludes with some thoughts on choosing performance goals and a process for handling poor performance.  While applying the ID Model does not absolutely guarantee success, it does offer very powerful incentives to the IDOs to see that the desired results are achieved.

Public Welfare: Putting the Independence-Development Model to Work (Vol. 3, Issue 17)
In this commentary, we put the ID (Independence-Development) Model, described in the last issue, to work.  We do that by answering a number of key questions — first about the IDOs (Independence-Development Organizations), then about the clients.  Who should be eligible to make an IDO proposal?  How should the IDOs be selected?  How should the clients be assigned?  How should IDOs assist their clients?  Which sources of income should be open to clients?  Should a client be able to refuse a placement?  What happens if a client does not co-operate?  With those answers in hand, we are ready to see why municipal participation is so important and what role your municipality should play.  Even if your municipality has no current responsibility for welfare or if you presently share that responsibility with senior government, this series offers you an opportunity to benefit your community while fixing a program which is long overdue for real reform.

Public Welfare: Extending the Independence-Development Model (Vol. 3, Issue 18)
In this commentary, we see how the ID (Independence-Development) Model could be extended to increase its effectiveness.  We start by examining how public welfare could be transformed from a tax-supported program to a program funded by voluntary donations.  Next, there are ideas for creating 1 or more entities to administer these funds.  Then, we look at potential roles for sponsors, mentors, and other volunteers.  The issue concludes with 2 questions.  Is there a role for some type of income-loss insurance?  Should the working poor be exempted from paying income taxes?  If the ID Model is adopted, we can create a brighter future for those needing assistance.  We can give taxpayers some relief by reversing the long-term trend of ever-growing welfare expenditures.  And, we can make this program an income-earner for our municipalities.  Now, that sure sounds like win-win-win to me.

A Controversial Proposal for Welfare Reform (Vol. 1, Issue 32)
Recently, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg offered a proposal to restructure that city's welfare program.  As you might imagine, this proposal has sparked considerable debate.  To put the proposal in context, we look at the nature of poverty and who, exactly, are the poor.  This is followed by a brief history of how governments have attempted to assist the poor along with an assessment of those efforts.  We then turn our attention to the senior-government welfare reforms of the mid-1990s to see whether they are doing a better job than the programs they replaced.  To provide some guidelines for evaluating the Bloomberg proposal, this issue recommends what should be part of a successful anti-poverty program.  The issue concludes by rating the proposal, according to those guidelines.

Can We Deliver Social Programs in Ways which Will Grow the Economy? (Vol. 3, Issue 47)
In this issue, we turn our attention to improving how we aid the unemployed and assist the poor to climb out of poverty.  In most jurisdictions where this publication is read, government has assumed the lead role in delivering these programs.  They are key parts of what we call public welfare.  While public welfare is the sole responsibility of senior government in some jurisdictions, in others, local-government agencies share that responsibility or are totally responsible for it.  Yet, even if your municipality has no responsibility for welfare today, that situation may well change tomorrow.  As background for this commentary, we recall the track record of public welfare, remember examples of past success, outline the bases for a new public-welfare model, and recap its design requirements.  The ID (Independence-Development) Model was introduced in our 4-part series on reforming public welfare.  To revisit how it works, we recall how these programs should be delivered, review the role municipalities should play, and how these programs should be funded.  The issue concludes with the reasons why this approach to delivering public welfare is win-win-win.

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