“Drew”, a Georgia native, has a couple of years of college under his belt, and now works a part time job as a child care provider for the local school district. He lives at home with his father, but is eager to move in with his girlfriend.

Unfortunately, neither of them makes a living wage, so until they find a way to cover their living costs Drew stays at his parent’s house while Brittany lives in a cheap hotel with her father, who is on disability, and Drew helps with their rent when he can.

Drew is an active Role Playing Game (RPG) enthusiast, which is how he met Brittany, and he spends his weekends acting in a local version of the “Rocky Horror Picture Show”.

We only had a few minutes with Drew before he headed to work, but I wanted to include him because of his thoughtful insights not only on his current situation but on the design of welfare overall. Drew once belonged to America’s middle class – an avid churchgoer, he volunteered as a tutor in the local ghetto, “The Trap”, a neighborhood so notorious it earned its own urban dictionary citation. As Drew says, “it’s called the trap because if you end up there you never get out.”

Drew has a good handle on one of the big reasons these programs that ‘trap people in poverty’ continue to exist; bureaucracies have a way of digging in for the long haul, and employees of social services, like employees of many bureaucracies, have stable government jobs they aren’t eager to give up. Drew notes that even the programs with the best intentions end up more interested in perpetuating poverty than ending it.

His observation that caring for one another should be voluntary and without profit is worth considering – he notes that he was once one of those who gave to his community, and is now in need himself. Would communities function better if they took care of their own instead of relying on government programs?