Friday, July 26, 2013

A Culture in Decline

      
This is an actual house in Detroit, Michigan.  ( Picture: www.wired.com)



    Let me preface this by saying that I am not that old.  I may have kids in their twenties, but that's because I started having them just after college in MY twenties.  The math makes me the age a lot of people are when having their first kids in the US.   A great deal has changed in the United States since that time.  In 1981, when I graduated from college, there was a recession.  The interest rates for housing was 18% and we were very lucky to get an owner financed property as a first home for 14 1/2 %.   However, most people worked. If they did take some type of assistance, they did so reticently and under the pretext that as soon as things in the country improved, or they moved, or got out from under some type of crushing bill, that they would leave the rolls of whatever type of assistance they were temporarily receiving. There was an acknowledgement that assistance of some kind came from people, albeit indirectly.  One by one, the young family I met while in the hospital after my daughter was born, left the welfare rolls, became gainfully employed, and moved to stability, not only as a stable family themselves, but helping others as a recollection of how valuable it was to have needed assistance in a pivotal part of life.  Our neighbors up the street who collected welfare briefly when their first child was born found a way to stop collecting it, and eventually even gave up WIC.   It was heartening to see those who were sidelined from the recession in 1981 develop solid footing and join the rest of the world, planning, saving, raising a family and dreaming dreams.
            Somewhere along the road this changed.   Many Americans of all ages developed the idea that a welfare state smorgasbord existed in the US and they signed on for welfare, or aid to dependent children, WIC, Medicaid, Disability, free cellphone, free or reduced cost state prescription programs, and three church run foodbanks.   None of these programs are bad in themselves, but somewhere along the road people stopped thinking that they were a stop gap measure until the family once again found their way. They did not realize that while they stopped progressing and stalled in the welfare system, that others who might need it as a stop gap couldn't get it.  Our area food banks are empty most of the time, regardless of how many cans of canned goods the rest of us gather at Sam's Club to drop off to them.    This is not an issue of race.  White, Asian, Middle Eastern, African American, and Hispanic peoples all use welfare, some of them as a stop gap, and some consider it their new American dream     Somehow, in the last twenty years we stopped being a gracious nation appreciative for the help we might receive in emergencies, and became a gimme nation.
           It is not my intention to make anyone who must use one of these programs feel badly.  They exist because you paid your taxes to create such programs, but it is my intent to make those who think they are scamming the system feel badly.   Collecting such percs while others who do need them can't get them, is wicked.   Collect only what you need until you can take care of yourself.  To do anything else signals a culture in decline, and a nation spiralling toward its own death.



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