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Were killing ourselves via government dependency
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How did we get to the point where the government – through debt and taxes – essentially controls our day-to-day economic well being?
Simple. We asked for it.

There was a time when people banded together to secure community wants that went behind basic needs.

If kids needed a neighborhood ball park, service groups got together and raised the money and built it on their own.

Today it takes an environmental impact report and excruciating standards that must be met that add tens of thousands of dollars to a simple project.

If a neighbor was in need, people stepped up as did churches to help them.

It built a sense of responsibility and obligation. If someone gave you $100 or a basket of food eye-to-eye, you felt an obligation to get back on your feet and not let those who helped you down. Now if help comes in the mail in the form of Food Stamps you have no problem taking that and buying convenience food and using the change to buy beer. It has gone from a blessing to an entitlement now that government has replaced community.

Why is city government cleaning up after us in municipal parks, why is state government funding the arts, and why is the federal government helping underwrite the Public Broadcasting System?

 Obviously we can’t go back to the so-called “good old days.” However, we need to retrench back into community involvement to a degree to stem the tide against the growing assumption that government needs to take care of our every want and need as well as protect us from failing.

A step in that direction is the effort being undertaken by the Crossroads Grace Community Church on Oct. 11 to help with the planting of 250 trees along the Tidewater Bikeway’s Moffat Boulevard leg. They will unleash a force of 1,000 volunteers plus provide help in follow up maintenance. They already saved the city $8,000 a year in helping clean up litter and other debris along the 3.4-mile long Tidewater.

Reaching out into the community is old hat for Crossroads Community Church and a host of other Manteca churches.

The biggest example of churches stepping up is the HOPE Family Ministries. For 18 years, the organization has provided help for people in desperate need. They have taken some government funding – none now from the state- and married it with a large infusion of church donations and manpower along with community assistance. They helped shelter 108 families last year in three shelters including 226 children.

A very small congregation – Southside Christian Church – has taken on a giant task as well. They are hosting free Friday night gatherings throughout the summer to provide children with an alternative to gang influence. They also provide role models for them to listen to as well as healthy meals. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that kids whose families can’t afford good nutrition clamor to grab all of the fresh fruits and vegetables they can.

Other examples include St. Vincent de Paul’s food closet and The Pregnancy Help Center.

Those five efforts are just the tip of the ice berg. Virtually every church has community outreach undertakings throughout the year helping the young, the elderly and with community projects. They also have a host of in-house services ranging from counseling to assistance that counters the need for the government to do it.

It is a prime example of the “community” – in this case churches – meeting the need in a much more effective and less costly manner than government.

Can we go back to that model 100 percent? Probably not. Can we move somewhat in that direction? Yes.

It will take, however, courage from our elected leaders to think of innovative partnerships while at the same time cutting red tape.

There is a price we pay for wanting the government to take care of our every needs and wants plus saving us from failure.

It keeps us from being grounded which in turn escalates our demands and expectations to the point where everything collapses upon itself as is happening now.

To contact Dennis Wyatt, e-mail