site map: find lots of essays & resource pages
chronological index: all my yesterdays & tomorrows
contact (Ask to be put on the Notify List to get an email when new entries are posted.)
Sunday, 3.13.05: The Persistence of Institutions
In "Mending Wall," Robert Frost wrote:
We're all familiar with Oliver Twist and Orphan Annie. Like genocide, after the big exposé, we say never again. In 1994 we were shocked, shocked when Newt Gingrich thought we should bring back institutions for children whose parents couldn't care for them. And it was about that time the agency I worked for committed itself to systematizing ways to keep children out of institutions and with their own families.
But that was 10 years ago. What has been the track record of this organization? Where has their money been invested?
In acquiring more institutions and spending millions in private and public dollars to "upgrade" the old orphanage buildings to make them "state-of-the-art." Efforts to keep families together -- which mostly involve alleviating poverty, creating good jobs with flexible hours for parents, and supporting strong schools -- are quickly overwhelmed.
We're in a cycle where government policy sends the money to fat cats. And, as far as kids go, the fat cats are less interested in innovation than in having buildings named after themselves. Sure, there are exceptions, quixotic reformers and a few enlightened fat cats who know that broken families and broken down institutionalized children aren't good for business.
But the institutions persist.