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Paul Ruth

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Budget Cut Hazes Hope

Posted: 12/06/11 04:32 PM ET

Finding ways to balance the budget is never easy, but the recent slashing of public funds to Focus: HOPE sheds light on the real impact of our times. Focus: HOPE is a non-profit organization based in Detroit, MI that has sought solutions to the most heart breaking of social ills. Since 1968, they have been pursuing the hardest of questions tackling hunger, education, race relations, and economic disparity.

The Michigan Economic Development fund was able to replace $1 million of the $5.86 million granted by the Work Force Investment act in 2011, but this leaves only a shell of the program. The most influential work that this organization does is provide job training for people seeking work in the competitive global market place. This is not a hand out, but a pragmatic way to invest in the most important economic factor, which is people. Ensuring an educated workforce provides a stable consumerism that grounds the larger economy in prosperity.

This is an instance that shows how budgetary gridlock works in the direct opposite of the intended debate. As much as politicians say that they are working for America's workforce, they are losing not only people who work for Focus: HOPE, but failing the once-possible students who would have been educated by their job training. It is not enough to say that this is what needs to be done, or the process of debate may create unintended casualties. This is a lack of good policy that is now threatening the very source of what made the American worker such a enduring figure. The American workforce deserves a chance to find independent ways to build itself into the future. Focus: HOPE is an example of what the public can do when it is supported by public funding.

It is not that government needs to be smaller, or fundamentally changed, or expanded to meet the needs of the few. In a capitalistic society, the government must be an enabler of not just recovery, but prosperity. The government, on all levels, must provide resources for the market to operate more freely in the best interest of the invisible hand. It may be the interstate system that revolutionized transportation, or the FDIC that provides the trust needed for credit, but there is a responsibility to define how government will provide a flexible skeleton instead of letting partisan extremes create an arthritic grind that stagnates growth.

Focus: HOPE is now seeking private donors to make up for the lost funding. It is a chance for the people and corporations of America to do what government has failed to do. A conservative might say that the market will sort out the labor force, and a liberal might champion the duty of the wealthiest of Americans. In truth, they are both right. Business can choose to financially support an organization that expands the economy creating a more incentive business model, and the responsibility each American has to other Americans can be a choice of charity. The American experiment may be a diverse collection of political opinion, but let us not lose our one nation for equality, liberty, and justice for all.