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Self Reliance - Where Has It Gone?

Updated on January 29, 2020
Life in the 1800's
Life in the 1800's | Source

Self Reliance Required

Back in the late 1700's and early 1800's before the integration of the Public Welfare systems - how did anyone survive? During that time they had to depend on self reliance and family to build a homestead, plant vegetables and fruits, can said vegetables and fruits, and then store them properly to hold them through the winter. They had to raise cattle for beef and fur as well as chicken, hogs, turkeys and hunt wild animals. They learned to barter with their neighbors for goods they would not have had otherwise. They had to be strong, self reliant, independent and determined or they would not survive. Everyone in the family worked long and hard to ensure survival and survive they did, without the Government giving them handouts of food, money, and health-care. Self reliance was required to make it back then - boy have things changed over the last 200 years.

American Exceptionalism

America was a new Country focused on developing a unique and distinctive set of ideologies. The theme was one of Liberty, Individualism, Egalitarianism, and Laissez-faire. Liberty was every American mans dream to have the freedom to exercise his God given rights. Individualism, the right to be yourself without interference of Government or Despots. Egalitarianism, according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the term is defined as a political doctrine that all people should be treated as equals and have the same political, economic, social, and civil rights. Then we have Laissez-faire - the french term meaning "let them do what they will." Laissez-faire stands for economic freedom from government subsidies, tariffs, and government monopolies. It promotes the least amount of Government interference in a free market society, with just enough regulations to protect citizens against theft of property and bodily harm.

1800s Family from Boulder Colorado area


What Happened to Self Reliance

What has happened to the American desire for self reliance? When did things start changing? It began with the introduction of Social Security and Public Welfare programs. The initial programs started under Theodore Roosevelt's "New Nationalism." New Nationalism included the beginning of such programs as Social Insurance which was similar to today's Social Security. Social Insurance provided coverage to the elderly, the unemployed and the disabled. New Nationalism covered Workers Compensation for workers injured on the job. New Nationalism required a Constitutional amendment to allow for the introduction of the Federal Income tax. Those who worked would pay for the needs of the elderly, unemployed, and disabled. It was no longer up to the family to take care of their own. It was the beginning of the end of Self Reliance.

New Nationalism was followed by Woodrow Wilson's "New Freedom", then came Franklin Roosevelt's "New Deal", which lead to the biggest leap in Government handouts at taxpayer expense than ever before. These programs were followed by John F. Kennedy's "New Frontier" and Lyndon B. Johnson's "Great Society." Each of these programs added to the size of Government and added to or changed the social programs of New Nationalism. Americas self reliant, individualistic society was depleting at lightning speed.

Will we ever get back to Self Reliance?

We do have a need for social welfare programs. Those who have worked a full career and paid in to social security deserve and usually need social security funds on retirement. Those who are truly mentally or physically disabled and cannot work must be taken care of. The unemployed who have worked before and are actively looking for work need a certain amount of limited help to keep them afloat. Wounded veterans deserve everything they need and more to make sure they have a good quality of life for the sacrifices they have made for our freedoms.

The United States of America is now contributing more than 35% of it's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on Social Welfare expenses. More people are on Social Security/Disability, Public Assistance, and unemployment than ever before. This position is unsustainable for much longer. We need to take a look at all those on social security disability to determine if they are really disabled. We must stop giving funds to illegal (not here legally) immigrants. We must get back to economic conservatism and promote more citizen self reliance before we are too far in deficit to get out. Update 2020: Things seems to be changing in a good way, we must all stay vigilant to keep this going.


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