The nanny state and personal responsibility

A recent newspaper article highlighted this issue. An elderly couple — he's65, she's 70 — haven't made mortgage payments in four months for their three-bedroom home and the wife has started cyberbegging. She has a free blog page up asking people to send her money, falsely claiming the donations would be tax-deductible. The husband's been out of work for a while, and she says she can't work due to age and health issues. Yes, it is a sad story, but as you read the article, you learn this couple's home is filled with antiques. They have a nice flat panel television hooked up to cable. Hmm-m-m… Couldn't they turn off the cable and perhaps sell some stuff? Oh, and the couple's son and his spouse also live in the home. You'd think between the four adults they could afford the mortgage payments. The article also mentions how they got into this mess. Initially it points out their business failed in 2007, leaving them with debts. They declared personal bankruptcy to get out from under those business-related debts. While the couple blames bad luck for their troubles, they also admit to not properly filing taxes and some "questionable" business deals. The article never mentions the couple are trying to sell their home — granted a difficult thing to do in the current real estate market — but it does say she's hoping to raise $100,000 to buy a modest home while the "market is ripe." Hmm-m-m… Would this be to live in, or another 'business' deal.

What has happened to us? Why don't we take responsibility for our condition and dig ourselves out when we get in trouble? It reminds me of another trend I find very disturbing. When I was a kid, lo those many years ago, if some group I belonged to needed money, first we went to the parents. My folks bought my girl scout and cheerleading uniforms, paid for my field trips, etc. But occassionally the group would need to raise money and we'd hold car washes, bake sales, or do other fundraising. Of course, girl scouts have their annual cookie sales. Krispy Kreme had a great program where we sold glazed donuts by the dozen, with a percentage of the proceeds going to the group. There were similar programs selling gift wrap, greeting cards, etc. The common denominator was we did something or provided something in exchange for money. We didn't just beg. For several years now we've seen a trend with kids standing out front of stores with their cans begging for donations. "Help support our soccer team," they'd call out. Or perhaps it was for a school band, football team, etc. What are we teaching these kids? You don't have to do anything to earn the money, just beg and people will give it to you. Argh!

This ties in with the whole 'nanny state' the liberals are creating. Ooh, are you out of work? Here, take this handout, extended again and again. There's no incentive to go get a job if someone's going to just hand you money, food stamps, free health care, etc. I'm not heartless. I agree there should be some kind of safety net to help those who've fallen on hard times. But it needs to be very temporary — three to six months should be sufficient for most people. I speak from some experience here. Many years ago, my husband was forced out of his job and I was fired two weeks later, losing my company car (we worked for the same man and had made the mistake of pointing out his 'questionable' business practices). This was in November — a terrible time for both parents to be out of work when you have a young child. I filed for unemployment, but there was no way we could survive until it started coming in. I found a part-time job a week or so later and dropped the unemployment filing. It didn't pay near what I was used to earning, but any money was a good thing while my husband continued looking for work. We also got a small loan to help pay the bills. After about a month, I found a better full time job and, a short time later, my husband landed a new job as well. We needed a car and went to a buy-here-pay-here lot and got one. It wasn't pretty to look at, but it ran and that was the most important thing. It took a while to get back on our feet, but we did it — without government assistance.

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