What public works programs can do beyond creating jobs

"Commentators about the public works programs proposed by President-elect Barack Obama have missed the programs' civic potential," writes Harry Boyte in an op-ed piece published in today's Star Tribune.


The below comment is from an employee at a Minnesota-based refugee assistance program, when asked how Harry Boyte's article relates to work done with immigrants and refugees. The employee provides an interesting perspective on traditional means of social service provision:

"I totally agree with this article. I believe that people should be given a chance to contribute. Unfortunately, I believe that 'in trying to help' most agencies are creating a culture of dependency.

Even immigrants who knew how to 'hustle' for their daily living are learning to be dependent. I believe that this ties back to the atmosphere in most refugee camps where people are put together in one spot with no jobs or ways of making a living and are then provided with 'help' for all their needs (in addition to the welfare system).

In addition, the opportunities to contribute are lacking for most new immigrants. Which is why I value works like that of the Jane Adams School because they give people a chance to contribute. I think similar models should be used in most social service agencies. It is amazing what people can contribute/come up with when given a chance.

I argue give people a chance."

thanks for this post.

Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs