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Self Reliance - Where has it Gone?

Updated on January 24, 2016
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 for other meats. 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 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 others. 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

Source

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 Departments. 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's", then came Franklin Roosevelt's "New Deal", which lead to the biggest leap in Government handouts at tax payer 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. America was less of a self reliant, individualistic society than ever before.

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. Many additional folks joined the ranks of the social welfare system since the election of President Barrack Obama. 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 - period. We must get back to economic conservatism and promote more citizen self reliance before we are too far in deficit to get out.

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    • gmwilliams profile image

      Grace Marguerite Williams 4 years ago from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York

      Of course, we need to return to the sublime art of self-reliance. We need this. It seems that we have an anti-achievement mentality in postmodern America. Those who are successful are often derided as elitist and materialistic by the less successful.

      It seems that poverty is praised. I have noticed some pundits even suggest that income should be evenly distributed. I portend that if one wants something, there is quite a simple solution. Success is the product of studying, planning, strategizing, sacrifice, and working hard and smart to obtain one's goals. How hard is that to do? Your name should not be CONSERVATIVE LADY but SMART LADY!

    • rcrumple profile image

      Rich 4 years ago from Kentucky

      Great Hub!

      You & I have very similar beliefs. The government, stepping in to assist the aged, started the ball rolling on a family's decreasing responsibility to its own. The burden eased, and the elderly were not dependent, so all were happy. But the snowball had only started its roll.

      There's nothing more frustrating than seeing one's dollars go to a mooch. Most of us don't mind helping those who are in a temporary pinch, but there's a time when it has got to stop. However, instead of stopping, we now provide funds to those who came here illegally and abuse our financial resources. It should be simple. "If you didn't follow the rules to get here, don't expect us to pay for your stay!"

      Excellent Insight and Presentation!

    • Conservative Lady profile image
      Author

      Sheila 4 years ago from Surprise Arizona - formerly resided in Washington State

      gmwilliams - I am flattered by your comment - I wish there were more who could see what is going on. I am afraid the lazy and uncaring in this country are going to drag us all down if we let them. Thank you for stopping by!

      rcrumple - I agree we have very similar beliefs and that suits me fine - you are someone I would be clumped in with anytime. Nothing upsets me more than giving our hard earned tax dollars to people who are here illegally - why do people not comprehend - illegal is illegal - we do not owe these people anything. Thank you so much for reading my hub!

    • teamrn profile image

      teamrn 4 years ago from Chicago

      We do not owe illegals anything. Yes, I'm on the dole from the government (Social Security Disanility) and I hate it, would rather work-in fact I'm almost hesitant to mention it here. But, I hate it when there are folks who milk the system and get on SSD.

      I'd like nothing more than to return to those days when I relied on my sweat and toil to succeed.But, that's not the hand that was dealt me. Please tell me that your self0reliance words are not meant for those who truly can't help themselves.

    • Conservative Lady profile image
      Author

      Sheila 4 years ago from Surprise Arizona - formerly resided in Washington State

      teamrn - my words are not for the very elderly, the truly disabled, the mentally disabled etc.... I have much compassion for those who NEED help and I know there are many. But we all know there are those who play the system and drain the tax coiffures - thus stealing from those who truly need help. That is who I have a major problem with - the able bodied moochers in society.

      I know that is not who you are and anyone who has read your profile knows that as well.

    • teamrn profile image

      teamrn 4 years ago from Chicago

      Oh, there are too many. I'm aware of a fellow who is on SSD; why? Because he's alcoholic. Not mental defect leading to alcoholism and I know alcoholism is a disease, but it's a treatable disease in a lot of cases.

      I don't feel that there are people who really feel I shouldn't receive benefits, but when I criticize the number of entitlement programs and make it known that we have to reform our entitlement culture and the entitlements themselves, I get this "you realize that you may be biting the hand that feeds you" gaze). Let the chips fall where they may. If the survival of our Republic means that I have to do with less, well, so be it.

    • paul pruel profile image

      Paul Odien Pruel 4 years ago from Philippines and Saudi Arabia

      I still believe that self-reliance still alive in every family and other society groups. I liked your thought about the subject Ms. Conservative. Also thank you for visiting my hub page a while ago...

    • teamrn profile image

      teamrn 4 years ago from Chicago

      Fortunately, it is alive and well in some families; but unfortunately, it seems to be unheard of in other families. If children grow up with non-self-reliant parents, that's all they know and will live their childhood and then their children will have the reinforcement, and their children and down the line for generations.

    • Conservative Lady profile image
      Author

      Sheila 4 years ago from Surprise Arizona - formerly resided in Washington State

      Paul - I sure hope you are right about that Paul - we need self reliance to make a huge come back! Thank you for stopping by.

      teamrn - I completely agree - if that is all you know - that is what you believe to be the "right" way of life.

    • toknowinfo profile image

      toknowinfo 4 years ago

      You bring up a lot of interesting and relevant points. I don't know if we can ever get back to the days of self reliance the way it was, but certainly this topic should be more on the forefront for us all. Rated up, interesting, and useful.

    • Conservative Lady profile image
      Author

      Sheila 4 years ago from Surprise Arizona - formerly resided in Washington State

      toknowinfo - thank you so much for the kind words - I agree we need people to get back to being self reliant. I am not giving up hope just yet.

    • jainismus profile image

      Mahaveer Sanglikar 4 years ago from Pune, India

      Great Hub, thank you for sharing the information with rare photographs. Voted up and sharing.

    • Conservative Lady profile image
      Author

      Sheila 4 years ago from Surprise Arizona - formerly resided in Washington State

      Thank you jainismus - I appreciate the vote and the sharing!

    • Bobski606 profile image

      Bobby 4 years ago from U.K

      Have you ever watched The Good Life? It's a great tv show that covers to characters trying to live for themselves in Surbiton (sub-urbs of London), UK. I can't wait to have my own little garden again so that I can grow my own veggies. I make my own clothes and for my family so we just rely on the fabric store for materials - until I learn how to use a loom or weave.

    • Conservative Lady profile image
      Author

      Sheila 4 years ago from Surprise Arizona - formerly resided in Washington State

      I have seen one or two episodes of The Good Life Bobski606 - it differentiates those who are self reliant from those who are not doesn't it! We moved on to an acre last year so we can start a good sized garden and grow our own veggies. It is awesome that you are talented enough to make clothes for yourself and your family - I am impressed!

    • pramodgokhale profile image

      pramodgokhale 4 years ago from Pune( India)

      Yes Maam,

      Self reliance was part of life. Modern economics and large corp orates and centralized government sponsored system does not make it happen.

      I think DE centralization of power and wealth in democratic set up can be done. Power mongers will not allow to go for this dated system.

      Subsidies are the lollipops and does not solve the economic constraints

      In India we are under highly restricted democracy and people rely on government schemes and political parties expect dividends in election.

      Communes in new fashion can be set up at countryside to create self reliant rural communities.Communes not like communist communes but modern and innovative and open to all. I am an Indian and enjoyed my childhood on farms and non polluted atmosphere, now settled in large city, just ruminating happy and self reliant life once, gone are the days.

      thank you once again

      pramod gokhale

    • teamrn profile image

      teamrn 4 years ago from Chicago

      toknowinfo, My belief is that we CAN. The question is WILL we? The shift in thinking that is required can happen, but if people keep loving the handouts, the shift won't happen. So, to me, we need to revise the way we hand out free 'stuff!'

    • pramodgokhale profile image

      pramodgokhale 4 years ago from Pune( India)

      Conservative Lady,

      Why no comment or suggestion on my comment.

      Anything is wrong there?

      Pramod gokhale

    • Conservative Lady profile image
      Author

      Sheila 4 years ago from Surprise Arizona - formerly resided in Washington State

      pramodgokhale,

      My apologies, I wrote a nice reply and apparently did not click the button to send it. I completely agree - subsidies are the lollipops and politics are mostly corrupt world wide. America used to be the place where self reliance was expected and took you far. Unfortunately we are moving away from that model. Subsidies are paramount - politicians get elected based on what they will "give" the voter in the form of "stuff."

      I appreciate your readership and wise comments.

    • Conservative Lady profile image
      Author

      Sheila 4 years ago from Surprise Arizona - formerly resided in Washington State

      teamrn - it will be hard to change the way of thinking about the free stuff - but we cannot let that stop us!

    • pramodgokhale profile image

      pramodgokhale 4 years ago from Pune( India)

      Thank you maam

      received your reply just now, Thanks once again.

      I appreciate you to go for good olden days. In India and globally the people are after Amercian dream as role model and has to face consequences .

      i am waiting for your new articles related to life without greed

      thank you once again

      pramod gokhale

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