In 1985, McDonald created the "Ready, Willing, and Able" (RWA) program (also known as the "Doe Fund"). From that beginning:
- RWA has now 4 centers in New York City and 1 in Philadelphia.
- On any day, RWA is helping 700 people.
- To participate in the program, an individual must work a minimum of 30 hours/week in 1 of RWA’s businesses which clean the streets, provide pest control services, and cook.
- Participants receive pay above the minimum wage and are eligible for raises.
- If a participant owes child support, he is required to pay it.
Similar to other transition-to-work program, RWA has an unrivaled success rate. To wit: A Harvard University student concluded that ex-convicts participating in RWA had a recidivism rate 60% lower than that of similarly situated individuals.
Taking note of RWA's success, Michael Tanner of the Cato Institute notes:
- Americans are more than willing to help their fellow man in need.
- Private charity is more effective than government charity because it gives recipients tools to move up and out of poverty.
- The United States has continued to pour more and more funds into welfare programs, with little to show for it because the welfare state lacks the right incentives to push people to become self-reliant.
The problem is the shift of values. When local communities—and their charitable organizations—work to solve problems like homelessness and impoverishment, the values of charity, self-reliance, and a "fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work" are communicated loudly and clearly. However, when a government—and its attendant bureaucracy—works to solve the same problems, the values of law and impersonalism take over.
This shift from community organizations to government—and the attendant shift in values—is to the detriment of the government, the local community, and those who genuinely need assistance. Authentic "social justice" doesn't make people dependent upon either the goverment or the local community.
Kudos to George McDonald for his commitment to lift the poor out of poverty rather than just giving them a handout. He embodies the capitalist spirit.
Let the discussion begin…
To read Michael Tanner’s article, click on the following link:
"Less Welfare, More Charity."