Why bother with Financing Reform?
There are a few simple reasons why we need to pay attention to service and finance reform.
First, the cost of bad results is killing us. We are spending more and more money on family and children’s services at a time when evidence suggests things are actually getting worse (rising costs of foster care, juvenile crime, remedial education, etc.). Most of this spending, other than elementary and secondary education, is for remediating bad results, after they occur.
Second, preventing these costs is cheaper in the long run. We are paying a lot of money we might not have to pay if we did a better job of supporting families and children before they got into trouble. The sooner we get about the business of investing in preventing child and family problems the better off we will be. This is not just good social policy, it’s good fiscal policy. We literally can not afford to continue on the path of endlessly increasing remedial costs. Let’s explore these ideas briefly.
The cost of bad results is killing us.
There is of course the literal version of this. Even with violent crime on the decline, the U.S. still has the highest violent crime rate among developed countries. But, the idea of bad results starts with the idea of good results. Good results are conditions of well-being we hope to achieve for children, families and communities. They are such things as children born healthy, children ready for school, children succeeding in school and children staying out of trouble. Bad results are the opposites. Much, if not most, government spending for children and families, other than elementary and secondary education, is spent for bad results: children born unhealthy, not ready for school, not succeeding in school, not staying out of trouble.
The cost of bad results is not just public spending. Think about the ways in which juvenile crime shows up in property damage which shows up in the insurance rates we all pay. Put your arms around all this spending and you have a huge bill, well in excess of $100 billion per year nationally.