President Lyndon Baines Johnson initiated subsidies to eradicate poverty and social injustice in 1964 that were labeled “The Great Society.”  Instead of being a blessing they actually have been a curse for those who’ve come in contact with them.  The fatherless rate in Afro-American families has skyrocketed.  Some scholars claim many black mothers are married to the government.

Studies have found that the poverty rate, since 1964, has virtually been the same even with the billions that have been spent by the government.  The initiatives LBJ introduced have had devastating effects on the black community.

Crime hasn’t subsided with “The Great Society” experiment either.

Bob Cole, Executive Director of ReBuild in Indianapolis, helped add some insight.

In 2004, he began working with Ex-Offenders coming home from Prison.  5 years later he started a non-profit called “Rebuild.”  Bob said he chose to expand his horizons and assist people needing to return to Independently Self Sustainable – his favorite 3 words.

His primary goal is not helping criminals, but to prevent future victims. “With helping those in need to become Independent, it drastically reduces them re-offending by committing another crime and returning to Prison.  I have been blessed to help over 3,000 over the years.  I’m able to sit down one-on-one and guide.” Bob said.

He once met a young lady in nursing school.  While doing the practical part of her training she lifted a patient and injured her back.  A doctor put her on pain medication, and she became addicted.  She stole medications from a cart while passing them out to patients.  She got caught and served a year, followed by probation, substance abuse classes, random drug testing, etc.  She stated she wanted to complete her nursing training and become the RN she always wanted to be.  Bob told her “It would never happen.”

The young lady was eventually able to return to her studies and became a respectable RN and no longer on public assistance.

Bob vowed to never use the words “It will never happen” again.

Bob added, “When I chose to concentrate primarily on assisting those in need of employment, a wise local business owner gave one sentence that completely changed my life.  He said, ‘Assisting people with jobs is a piece of cake, a turtle could do it.  The challenge is Job Retention.’  He was right and I learned anyone will do anything for about 2 weeks.”

“It became my destiny to assist individuals with actual employment, but the type of work he or she will actually enjoy getting up in the morning to go do.  What a concept!  Unfortunately, it just cannot be done in massive groups.  Employers don’t want a professional like me asking them to hire 50 criminals, but they will absolutely talk to me about one.”

Bob added, “Grant dependent organizations aren’t afforded my method.  If they don’t show massive numbers, they won’t receive funding to continue operating.  Of course, the funding entity expects not only massive numbers, but they demand an increase in those numbers every year.  What is an organization to do, pray they were able to help enough?”

It’s not unrealistic to say government fails people.  For decades, 7 out of 10 men and women re-offend and return to prison every year.

Mr. Cole’s sobering confession is: “We live in an advocate world.  If you’re an Ex-Offender I can put on a crisp white shirt and tie and assist you all day long, but you’ll have a 90% chance of failing on your own.”

“If a person is able to secure real employment and make enough money to set a budget and stick to it, and I mean real employment where they enjoy getting up in the morning and going in every day.  Then all the rest will fall in place, housing, transportation, no more public assistance and no more prison time at a rate of twenty some thousand dollars a year per inmate.  I know, because I’m an Ex-Offender.”

I appreciate Bob Cole’s intuitive insight.  It was a voluntary offering of which I’m quite thankful.  I still lay hold to the thought, as Ronald Reagan did, that government isn’t the answer, oftentimes it’s the problem.  Individuals who offer to get their hands dirty in the trenches are often the Samaritans who make a difference in the lives of the ordinary.

Greg Allen’s column, Thinkin’ Out Loud, was published bi-monthly from 2009 to 2017.  He’s an author, a former nationally syndicated columnist and the founder of Builder of the Spirit Ministries in Jamestown, Indiana.  He can be reached at

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