Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Are We Losing It?

It's beautiful day today.  As I write this, sitting in the diner of a truckstop in southern New Jersey, it's a bright sunny day with only a few white puffies in the sky.  Gonna be another hot one.  Already pushing 90.

As I drove down here, I heard the radio ad by the Obama administration's Dept. of Agriculture touting how wonderful it is to receive food stamps and I thought, "Whatever happened to the celebration of rugged individualism?  The honest self-respect of providing for yourself and your family?  The almost inborn resistance to going to someone else "hat in hand" hoping for a few pennies?  Are we really that close to losing the once-undeniable characteristics of an American (pride, self-reliance, independence & the "I can do it" mindset) citizen?"

Not only are we losing it, we're being encouraged to do so.  Through a series of government-sponsored efforts, we are being told that the idea of providing for ourselves is an unreasonable expectation in this day and age; that no one can succeed without government assistance.

I read a new article the other day about a Department of Agriculture project spending millions of our tax dollars in an effort to convince people in Appalachia to get beyond the culture of "Mountain Pride" and sign up for food stamps and government assistance.  Apparently the idea of being fiercely independent and taking pride in providing for yourself and your family has been deemed detrimental.  They're even handing out prizes to the local departments that succeed in persuading the most people to give up their mountain pride in favor of accepting government handouts. 

......local assistance offices have been rewarded for “counteracting” pride and pushing more people to sign up for benefits.

Apparently, the desire to be self reliant and to provide for one's self and family is a barrier to be overcome by government lobbying.

The vision of the proud American Rugged Individualist is being replaced by a vision of pathetic government dependents, unable to do for themselves and unwilling to even entertain the thought of trying.

Not to sound like some old fart from "back in my day" but this is most certainly NOT the America I was blessed to grow up in.  We used to celebrate success and to point to the successful man or woman as a role model to pattern ourselves after; someone to emulate, not chastise for daring to attain too much and thus making others feel bad.  We didn't disdain the company of those who had fallen on hard times and needed temporary assistance.  Far from it.  We were (and still are) more than willing to help those trying to help themselves get back on their feet.  We DID, however, have disdain for those who were unwilling to do the minimum necessary to provide even minimally for themselves (when the social assistance programs first began, public service was a prerequisite for benefits.  You were expected to contribute what you could, similar to the way that Habitat for Humanity requires that it's recipients spend a minimum amount of hours helping to construct the home they are to live in).

Even the bum in the alley and the drunk in the gutter performed a public service.  They served as a cautionary tale, an illustration to children that their parents could point to of what could happen to them if they didn't steer clear of drugs and alcohol or if they were inattentive in school and failed to take advantage of the chance to learn a skill or trade.

What are our children being taught now?  That it's ok to "do their thing" and to "express themselves" however they feel.  Sexual experimentation isn't discouraged, it's enabled!  Often against the express wishes of the parents with "they're gonna do it anyway" given as an excuse to provide minor children with free condoms and birth control in school (they can't bring an aspirin in with them for a headache, but they can get pharmaceuticals, without parental notification, with no problem).  When they have a hard time with the material, it's either dumbed down or they are given the answers and allowed to "retest" until they pass.  When they don't have the athletic skills to make the team, the coaches are told they are required to allow them an equal amount of playing time in order to protect their self esteem.  They are given "participation trophies" just for showing up, and schools are doing away with the Valedictorian and Salutatorian of the graduating class because showcasing the best students may ruin the experience for the others who didn't excel.

None of this does any good.  Even when they don't keep score, the kids know who won/lost.  The handing out of meaningless awards only serves to diminish the value of real accomplishment.  The young have been educated to believe that "success" can be had without effort and that if you can't (or won't) do what is necessary to succeed on your own, don't worry, someone else will be there to make it all better.

And now, after working on the kids for years, the focus is widening to encompass the adults still daring to hold to the values they grew up with.  As part of the drive to reduce the adults' reluctance to participate in the assistance programs, they are also being touted as being "stimulative" and a boost to the economy.

From the Daily Caller:

Alabama Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions, the ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee, described USDA’s assertion that food stamps are beneficial to the economy as “ludicrous.”
Sessions, who has had his eye on food stamp reform for years, added that USDA’s focus on reducing cultural impediments to food stamp participation is particularly concerning.

The USDA also suggests "Food Stamp Parties" as a means of increasing participation.  (ie, dependence)

Well, now.  Isn't that just special?  Just what the founders had in mind, I'm sure.

Damn, I need a beer!  Happy Independence Day.


  1. I just thought of something. Now that Obamacare has been deemed "constitutional", I wonder how long it'll be before some social-justice, Progressive "child-advocate" will start to agitate for the cause of making participation in government welfare programs mandatory, under the theory that "malnourished" children face greater health risks and don't perform as well in school. Maybe they'll even make failure to seek benefits a crime! (Child abuse/neglect)

    Some people just need to be encouraged to do the right thing. After all, "it's for the children".

  2. The post puts me in mind of two things:
    The movie "Cinderella Man" starring Russell Crowe. In it he plays a depression era boxer who initially refuses to go on relief. While he finally does so to keep his family together, as soon as he is able, he attempts to repay the money.
    The second is a story in Napolean Hill's "Think and Grow Rich". He describes a mob of people on relief going to a courthouse to protest. Their protest? The felt it unfair that the mail carriers were delivering their relief checks so early and wanted a judge to order that they would not be delivered before 10 am.
    I fear that we have definitely moved more towards the latter sentiment being the more usual.

    On the mandating welfare acceptance, I am not too worried. Given how the health care law was upheld, I think it would be difficult to achieve. It doesn't make a lot of sense, even by government standards, to have a law that says take this money or we will tax you more.

  3. You have great grand children? What, did you marry someone from your mother's generation? Do you have an Oedipus complex?

    And can you assure us that ALL of those children, grand children, and great grand children are NOT on some kind of government program? (i.e., WIC, Medicaid, food stamps, Section 8 housing, Doctor Dinosaur, etc.)

  4. Anonymous (you could at least provide a name, just so I know who was so ill-raised by parents that never instilled a proper sense of decorum in their apparently wayward child):

    Not that it's really any of your business, but no, I didn't "marry someone from my mother's generation". My (now ex)wife, through a series of poor decisions, got herself into an abusive situation and ended up with 4 children by age 18. I met her when I was 24 and she 31 (7 years isn't all that far apart, is it?), inheriting 4 teen step-children.

    I like to think it was partly due to my influence that those kids didn't have children of their own until they were at least 17 and out of school (they are all either married or in long-term relationships). My step-grandaughter didn't have her first until she was 19 (she is now 23 and a married mother of 2).

    A couple of the kids did, in fact, spend some short time on public assistance. The duration was brief, and none of them ever considered remaining on welfare and living off the system. They have ALL worked for the majority of what they have received.

    As an aside, they often worked much harder, and received much less, than some of the "do-nothing" welfare recipients that shared space in the apartment building we lived in (the law required that a percentage of housing be set aside for "low-income"). THOSE POS regularly set up the grill on the first and third weekends of the month, grilling steaks, burgers and dogs that my tax money paid for while they bitched about "how expensive" it was.

    And to answer your final question: YES. I can assure you that none of my grandchildren or greatgrandkids are receiving public assistance. If they are in need of help, they get it the old fashioned way, they rely on their family and, occasionally, friends. Not that I believe it's any of your business as, judging by the tone of your post, I judge it likely you are one of the one's on the dole, not a contributor. But, hey, you have a nice day and enjoy your fourth.

    P.S. I apologize for the delay in my reply to your post and for making you wait. You see, I work for a living and had to make a run to Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, and back to Pennsylvania and just now got back. I sincerely hope my reply to your post was worth the wait.

  5. Patrick--

    I remember the Napoleon Hill story about the welfare mob. Kinda sounds like a preview of "Occupy", doesn't it? If you're interested in another "old" book that seems to have been almost eerily prescient, check out Ray Bradbury's "Farenhiet 451".

    In that story, television (video media) has become the supreme source of entertainment and information and it was the job of "firemen" to burn books, particularly the dangerous ones that contradicted the "official" news. Part of the path the people took to get to their state was the appearance on TV of make believe "families" doing the most outrageous things, captivating the audience and distracting the public from the actions of the government. Sounds like a pretty good description of "Reality TV", eh?

    As for participation in public assistance ever being made mandatory, at risk of being penalized......I never saw it as a chance that the government would tell people that if they didn't take the money (participate in the program) they'd be taxed more. I was projecting into the future what this could lead to, now that the idea of the federal government mandating any individual's behavior has been broached. I can certainly see some lawmaker (in California, maybe?) proposing just such a law. I'm sure they could justify it under the auspices of HHS or the State Dept. of Child Protective Services.

    Let's just file that with my prediction about the potential for the smart grids to lead to State control over people's access to energy in the not-to-distant future. We can come back and revisit the predictions in 10 yrs or so. Hope you guys had a good time on the 4th.

    1. Remember, Obama and all of his adherents on the left continue to maintain that the mandate is NOT a tax, but a permitted function of government.