Government Welfare or Non Governmental Organizations

Which is better for the common good government Welfare or Non Governmental Organizations? A combination of both? None (let people fend for themselves)?

Government Welfare
+Has more resources available
-May vary at the state and local level

Non Governmental Organizations
+Usually more efficient than government
-Limited resources available

Personal Charity
+Can get to know the person better
+May be most efficient
+Can spiritually benefit
-Limited resources available

All three can be abused
All three can help people in need


There’s an interesting book called From Mutual Aid to Welfare State about the prevalence of mutual aid societies in the United States prior to the Social Security system.

I like the idea of a government safety net for people down on their luck.

But when you have generations living on welfare, something has gone very wrong.


The Catholic Church advocates “subsidiarity”–close to home. I think this works best.

I think that with good hometown charitable organizations which include the church-based charities–many of the needs of people from all walks of life can be well-met.

I do think some kind of government safety net needs to be there, because individuals are not always generous or loving.

I think that a huge emphasis on early childhood education/learning is needed in the U.S…, and also a HUUUUGE emephasis on career education at the MIDDLE SCHOOL level, which is where people make their life decision for good or for evil.

With a decent education and a high school diploma, many people will find that they don’t need help from either local people or the government, other than help finding and getting hired for a job that pays for basic needs and a few extras! But without that diploma, most people will never, ever be independent and will always require generous donations and help from both local and government charities.

Just a quick “horseback” analysis, not to be confused with in-depth or complete research:

…A certain amount of variation based on locality is to be expected and is actually a good thing, because the cost of living can vary widely
…One additional drawback is that Government-run assistance (not all of which is “Welfare” per se) is that government does not seek out people to help; each person must be aware of what help is available and apply on their own initiative
… Additional advantage is that everyone who is qualified (and applies) is treated the same by government, whereas NGO and private can vary for any reason or none (not to say that any particular person or charity will in fact discriminate, but there are no external safeguards to eliminate the possibility).

…Efficiency, defined as percentage of funds received that are used for actual assistance to real people, is extremely variable. In fact some large NGOs use less than 10% of funding for direct assistance; remainder is administrative overhead including management salaries and fundraising.
…Some NGOs will seek out people in need rather than wait for them to come in, depending on the target demographics and the organization’s mission.
…Some NGOs use a larger percentage of funds for direct assistance because much, if not most, of the daily work is done by volunteers, whereas Government has to pay their workers.

…I would argue that this may actually be the least efficient in one way because fewer people are helped for the same amount of money. Yes, that one person or family can get a lot of assistance, but the same amount of money run through a good NGO (and combined with other money) can bring many more people out of a bad situation.
…Spiritual benefit and “feel good” aspects are undeniable, but can also be gained in other ways.

Absolutely agree.

I think a + on government is more universal access, e.g. lots of people turn to GoFundMe for aid, but that becomes something of a popularity contest. If you’re ‘likeable’ in some way, perhaps you’re young or a single mother or have a tragic story, you’re more likely to get your story noticed. People who don’t fall into those categories still deserve help.

I agree overall but I will say many systems seem almost designed to keep people in this cycle. You’re poor so you’re working two jobs, not able to spend as much time with your kids, and can’t afford an area with decent schools; that sets up the next generation for lots of issues. Or you’re on aid but you can’t have more than $2000 in the bank without losing your benefits, but $2000 isn’t very much money so if you get off the aid program a few months later an unexpected car repair or appliance breakdown combined with the normal struggles of life and you’re stuck reapplying because you couldn’t build a proper safety net for yourself. Not absolving people for their own choices but aid programs are often riddled with punitive rules either explicitly or implicitly. I knew someone who was homeless and if he didn’t get in line for the shelter by noon he basically didn’t have a bed. And once you were in if you left without notifying them days ahead of time they could give away the bed. So now imagine trying to accomplish … anything … in such a system. Oh, and when he finally got some financial assistance they subtracted the paypal donations a few people had sent him from his first deposit. Like I get why people feel the government doesn’t do a good job running things, but I also see certain people who want these programs to be punitive because they think making them a nightmare will encourage people to get off them.


The current welfare system has destroyed the family unit and is a major cause to the expansion of fatherless families.

The current system has done very little to lift people out of poverty

People need to work, it is a Catholic principle but the current system makes work improbable

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Let’s look at “Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church” (

It proclaims: “The principle of subsidiarity is opposed to certain forms of centralization, bureaucratization, and welfare assistance and to the unjustified and excessive presence of the State in public mechanisms. ‘By intervening directly and depriving society of its responsibility, the Social Assistance State leads to a loss of human energies and an inordinate increase of public agencies, which are dominated more by bureaucratic ways of thinking than by concern for serving their clients, and which are accompanied by an enormous increase in spending’[400].”.

Or “188. Various circumstances may make it advisable that the State step in to supply certain functions [401]. […] In light of the principle of subsidiarity, however, this institutional substitution must not continue any longer than is absolutely necessary, since justification for such intervention is found only in the exceptional nature of the situation.”.

So, government welfare is meant to be for emergency use only.

Of course, such government intervention tends to “outcompete” private initiative, and to create a “permanent emergency”, which is hard to undo…

As for the difference of “Non Governmental Organizations” and “Personal Charity”, they are pretty much the same thing with different levels of organisation.

Unless, of course, “Non Governmental Organizations” end up being a less visible arm of government.

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