People can change society together

Published 7:58 pm Monday, June 23, 2014

By Joseph Bass

The 50-year attempt to create a “Great Society” through the welfare-based “War on Poverty” has failed. It created a segment of our population dependent on government handouts involving financial payments, housing, health care and more. It did not create a segment of our society motivated to strive toward self reliance and self sufficiency.

How do we get welfare recipients motivated to work to create wealth for themselves and their families?

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A great mistake in attempting to help is focusing on the negative results of welfare. These results include excessive teen pregnancy, drug use, school truancy, school dropouts, absentee fathers, single-parent homes and more.

Focusing on negatives fosters feelings of despair. Increasing welfare efforts also increases despair, because dependency is the source of the problem. True hope will only come through a process that makes it possible for people to strive toward self reliance and self sufficiency. So it is important that all steps are positive.

Another important element is that people want their community to be better. But many feel they can accomplish little acting as individuals. Most have no experience in forming community-action groups focused on developing community self reliance and self sufficiency. A successful process will result in a groundswell for positive community change.

The first step in the approach is to survey community members about what they want to be improved in their community. Survey results would be provided to those that responded and to the newspaper.

The second step would involve a one-day brainstorming meeting of about 30 people representing a cross-section of the community. During the day participants would all have an equal chance to brainstorm what they would like to maintain (good things about the community), change (things that can be improved), add (things needed) and delete (things not needed). The results would be provided to those that responded to the survey and to the newspaper.

The third step would involve a planning meeting of the community members that should result in a plan of action for improving the community and identification of who would be responsible for carrying it out.

The fourth step involves implementation of the plan and on-going assessment and adjustments as required.

This approach works amazingly well. It is common that, by the time brainstorming results are known, community members will start implementing positive changes as the process continues to the fourth step.

Hopefully many will implement this community-based approach and help themselves to create wealth for themselves and their families. This is how it was for generations of Americans and this is how it should be for all Americans in the future.

Joseph L. Bass is the executive director of ABetterSociety.Info Inc., a nonprofit organization in Hobson. Email him at