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Should We Feed Them or Teach Them To Fish?

Updated on January 13, 2013

“Give a man a fish and you’ll feed him for a day. But if you teach a man to fish you will feed him for a lifetime.”

It’s an old Chinese Proverb according to The Quotations Page but I grew up hearing my Dad say it. For years I thought he was the author. Dad wasn't a very educated man but he was smart. He was a hard working man who placed a lot of value on earning his way in this world. Looking back, Dad said a lot of things that make sense to now that I’m older.

Now if my Dad could see the long term value in a person learning to feed themselves, what’s wrong with our policy makers in Washington who don’t seem to have a clue?

Having a job to go to each day can actually make us more productive in general. I don’t like generalizing but, I do believe that working people are more motivated to maintaining their homes and cars. They tend to participate in more social activities and have more activity-based hobbies. A person who has worked hard sleeps better at night and is less likely to have the energy to get into mischief. So with all those benefits, why can’t our policy makers see that handing out food and money and health care to those who could earn their own money is more harmful than good?

There are, and always will be, those whose circumstances warrant a little help; maybe even a lot of help. Our problem in this country is that we don’t allocate the resources to carefully screen the applicants. If our reasons are purely economic, then the answer seems simple to me. The money saved from careful screening could be applied to hiring more screeners. We create jobs and save money too. More importantly, we end this apathy and dependence.

There is a movement taking place in our country; a movement of older folks (baby boomers like me) who are cutting their ties with materialism. We are choosing to live with less quantity but more quality. It is an economic decision for some and for others, nothing more than a choice to live a more simple life. The reason is not as important as the outcome. We are proving that you do not have to spend hundreds of dollars at the grocery store. A house full of electronics and dust-collecting knick-knacks doesn't make a house a home. We can entertain ourselves without television and electronic games. In other words, these things are not required to live a productive life.

Our needs are very basic. We need food, shelter, and sometimes medicine to survive. So why is our government spending so much money? There are alternatives.

Shelter:Our policy makers should not feel responsible for providing individual housing for everyone that asks for it. Let’s build some boarding houses and give them a room. That should motivate them to get a job. Many of my ancestors ran boarding houses or lived in them when times were tight. It didn't kill them.

Food: Food stamps should not be distributed unless we have confidence that no money in the home is being spent on illegal drugs. Yes, I believe in testing those who are receiving food stamps.

Medicine: Our health care system is broken, across the board. It’s broken for those without and with private insurance. Do our policy makers think it’s fair to punish the working class with high cost health insurance premiums and reward the non-working class with free health care? What’s wrong with that picture? Why don't we fix what's really wrong first. Get the lawyers and insurance companies out of the health care business and restructure what hospitals can charge. We just might find that there is enough for everyone to get decent care.

So hey Mr/Ms Policy Maker - Do you remember who you’re working for? It’s broken, can’t you see? We are doing it all wrong. We need to teach them to fish. My Daddy said so and he’s almost always right. Take that picnic basket back and give that man a fishing pole so we can dig ourselves out of this hole before it’s too late and we've dug ourselves a tunnel all the way to China where they write those really smart proverbs.

© 2012 Linda Crist, All rights reserved.

Read more of my hubs here.


Submit a Comment

  • lrc7815 profile imageAUTHOR

    Linda Crist 

    6 years ago from Central Virginia

    We think a lot alike. :-)

  • MizBejabbers profile image

    Doris James-MizBejabbers 

    6 years ago from Beautiful South

    I know what you are saying, and I agree about regulation. I worked in broadcasting until it was deregulated (ruined). Look at Ma Bell. Now we have all kinds of choices at multiple times the cost. Banks, don't even get me started there. I am not a conservative right winger, but I do believe in having rules and following them. When people are given complete freedom, human nature is to abuse it.

  • lrc7815 profile imageAUTHOR

    Linda Crist 

    6 years ago from Central Virginia

    MisB - you always have such wise observations and I value your opions. You always make me think a little deeper, so thanks. I am not an advocate for bigger government but I see so much that needs to be regulated by someone. Take the "Buy America" program. Do you have any idea how many corporations are taking advantage of the tax benefit and lying through their teeth. I worked for one. All their products were made in foreign countries and shipped to the US. Two people are making a single connection between two parts and they are calling it "made in America". It's wrong. Those manufacturing jobs should be here too if we're going to claim it and give the corporation a tax break. I get so frustrated!!!

    I hurt for those that have lost their jobs and had to take minimal paying ones. They...deserve help. It's the others, the ones that don't even try to work that get me all riled up. On that, we will always agree.

  • MizBejabbers profile image

    Doris James-MizBejabbers 

    6 years ago from Beautiful South

    I agree with most of what you are saying, especially about the free medical care for the career welfare dependents who expect government handouts. I definitely believe in drug testing for anyone on the dole whether their situation is temporary or permanent. I also get furious when I see Section 8 housing recipients tearing up their government housing or collecting together in “hives” while they sell drugs.

    Until we get the jobs brought back to the USA, there will be too many good people depending on the government who could and would be working, or they are working in minimum wage jobs that won’t support their families. The other bad part of our economy is, at least in my state, too many of the factories and large places to work are owned by foreign corporations. We've sent our jobs overseas and the ones we have left, with the exception of fast food joints, are owned by foreigners. That makes us double dependent on foreign economy. Just recently the Dutch manufacturer of windmill blades in my state announced a layoff of more than 200 workers because their tax break they've been getting has not been renewed. That's more unemployed depending on the government.

    Europeans came to America in droves because they were starving. Now we seem to be entering the same situation. Where are we going to go?

  • lrc7815 profile imageAUTHOR

    Linda Crist 

    6 years ago from Central Virginia

    Thanks for reading Mhatter99. It's a real mess and after watching coverage of the RNC tonight, I am more conviced than ever that there will be no winners in November. They're all living in a bubble.

  • Mhatter99 profile image

    Martin Kloess 

    6 years ago from San Francisco

    I agree! Eventually America will get fed up and "pick up their phones". Until then... more of the same


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