Thursday, November 08, 2007

The government's compassion for the poor

When the Christian left exhort Christians to make one of their election criteria the poor, I cringe because I believe that caring for the poor should be something the church looks to itself to do. It used to be that the church was happy to minister to those in need, now we want to shift that burden to the government. But does the government have the compassion to really care for the poor? Well, you be the judge:

Los Angeles County's child welfare workers spent thousands of dollars in gift cards and entertainment tickets earmarked for foster children to buy themselves meals and attend musical events, according to an audit released Tuesday.

Among the most serious problems cited by auditors, county workers bought 160 tickets in July to see the hit musical "Wicked." County officials said the purchase was part of a gala event for foster children and their mentors, yet only 53 children and roughly the same number of mentors were given tickets.

The remaining seats went to employees of the Department of Children and Family Services and their relatives and guests, along with unidentified potential mentors and a number of not-for-profit organization employees, auditors wrote. The event cost $14,000.

The audit of the department also faulted employees for using gift cards -- bought with county money to supply food and clothing to foster children -- to pay for staff luncheons.


Auditors said one worker attempted to hide extra gift cards the department received by asking the business that supplied the cards for false invoices. Another told auditors he or she no longer had any gift cards but actually had $23,000 worth of gift cards or certificates, the audit said.
And will these workers lose their jobs over taking what was meant for the poor? Of course not:
"I think that several employees embarrassed the rest of the department with their extremely poor judgment," said L.A. County Auditor-Controller J. Tyler McCauley. "They should be disciplined accordingly."

The audit was prompted by a similar review earlier this year that criticized the county's child welfare agency for wasting more than $1 million on unnecessary or overpriced equipment and failing to better oversee the use of gift cards meant for foster children.
This will continue to happen because they're getting away with it.