Thursday, June 22, 2006

Sink or Swim?

I have been wondering lately if perhaps we don't live in a nation of life preservers. It seems like "sink or swim" isn't a viable life philosophy anymore. I'm not talking about the homeless here; I can't even begin to understand what they go through and therefore will offer no points of view. I mean the people who struggle or don't, who use welfare and food banks because they qualify, whether they really need it or not. I live in a very small town in Illinois, where $400 a month will rent you a decent house with a yard, or at least half a duplex. But since it is Illinois, all of the state-set income levels have to apply to people in Chicago too. And obviously, Chicago has a much higher cost of living. So, I see many people who make enough to pay their bills and buy their food/clothing/gasoline, but then find that they cannot afford to go to the bar twice a week, or pay babysitters when they want time away, or get the 200 channel package from the cable company, so they go get the welfare card to pay for the necessities so that the income can go to the luxuries. When you see 3 brand new mini-vans driven by parents in leather coats pull up to the food bank for government cheese and powdered milk, it makes you wonder where your taxes go.

I believe the problem is pride. Not enough of it, to be exact. Or at least, not the right kind. People seem to have confused an entitlement attitude with personal pride. The same people who are willing to spill blood over a dirty look are perfectly happy sometimes to spend food stamps on a bag of Doritos. What happened to the pride people used to feel in providing for their families? When did walking into the public aid office become providing? When was the shame wiped off the Link card?

I know a girl who had 2 kids with her live-in boyfriend, and then told the state both times that she had conceived at a party while drunk and therefore could not provide a name for a paternity test. She knew that her boyfriend was the father of both kids, but she didn't want the state to take any of his income out of that house to reimburse the welfare. So she had it written in her children's government files that they not only had no father, but that they were the result of one night stands so random that not even a first name and a hangout could be provided to track them down. What's worse is that because of people like this, other people who really do need the help, because they've fallen on tough times not sat themselves down in them, sometimes don't get it. Charitable organizations run out of money to give. Food banks run low or empty. Taxes go up and that puts more people in the position where they might have to consider welfare. I am very glad that I can afford to stay home. But it wasn't that long ago that I had to go without so that my daughter didn't have to. I took what family and friends offered me; my house was decorated in hand-me-downs and my closet was full of clothes other people had tired of, but it was offered and the taxes that pay for welfare aren't. I couldn't afford to buy clothes or cd's or even rent movies. I could have done all that if I'd gone on food stamps and Medicaid, but I didn't want to raise my daughter to expect a free ride. I just wonder when that mentality became rare. What happened to the work ethic?


Anonymous said...

Damn right. No pride these days, just leeches using my tax money

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