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Why Does The US Government Still Reward Apathy?

Updated on February 10, 2013

Another writer got me thinking about the US Government this morning. It's what I love best about HubPages. it gives us an opportunity to share ideas and philosophies, and, to present idease for solutions. Everyone has their own theories about our economy and most will offer an opinions about what the U.S. Government is doing wrong. I am no different. That's the beauty of being an American. Our freedom to form an opinion and speak about it is our Constitutional right.It sets us apart from most countries around the world.

Speaking of entitlement, it seems we're all talking about government reform, budget deficits, the fiscal cliff, the housing crisis, a broken health care system, and the lack of a bi-partisan effort to fix anything. An economist I am not but I am a human being who is trying to live a decent life and earn my own way in this world. I do not feel I am entitled to anything. It's the way I was raised. So here is my problem with the economic status of this country. We can't just keep giving more and more people money. We need to find ways that they can earn it. Even a dog will behave better when he knows he has a job to do. Isn't that a novel concept?

Real Solutions For Real Problems

I have no problem with people who are sick or the elderly on a fixed income getting a little help from the government. The consequences of aging or a devastating illness are beyond human control. We don't want to age or get sick but, life happens.

My problem with all the talk in Washington, the conversations still don't address the real problems. Our poliicians want to bandaid everything insteady of fixing what is really wrong. Let's look at a major government program that is broken. Let's look at MEDICAID.

Medicaid is basically health insurance for those that don't have it and can't afford it. Who can afford it? I pay my own health insurance and trust me, it ain't easy. I understand that there are people whose children will not get health care without Medicaid. I just want their parents to earn it and I don't think we should provide it for families who just keep having babies with no thought of who is going to care for them. I'm all about limiting the number of children that can be eligible for Medicaid in one family. Two is more than enough. In fact, I don't think it is unreasonable to limit people who aren't working to one covered child per family. That's right. For every parent (male or female), you should only have one child who can be covered by Medicaid. When a couple marries or forms a domestic partnership, the limit is - two kids. We would kill two birds with one stone. We reduce spending and we slow down the population growth. And we preserve some funding for those that will really need it some day. I like the idea.

Shall we talk about food stamps while I'm on a roll? Should a person receive food stamps without being expected to perform some job or community service in exchange? Absolutely not. Should anyone receive food stamps without passing a drug test first. No ! Why is it that if you lose your job, before you can receive an unemployment check, you have to report your job search activity each week but for food stamps, you don't have to demonstrate any effort at all to support yourself? I just don't get it.

Who among us hasn't been waiting in line at the grocery store and stood in awe of the person ahead of you buying steaks with food stamps? I walk right past the steak section most weeks because I can't justify the expense. So am I the only one that thinks food stamps should only be used for basic food staples like milk, eggs, cheese, veggies, and bread? Dang it. If you're getting food stamps and want steak, earn the money to buy them. Surely we could reduce the dollars spent on food stamps if they were used appropriately.

So this Hub wouldn't be complete if I didn't throw SSI in the mix. Do you know what SSI/Disability is? It is a paycheck for people who aren't old enough to get a social security check but are unable to work. By whose standards? That's what I want to know. Most of us know someone who is getting an SSI check and is just as capable of working as we are. So why aren't they? Because - the US government will pay them to do nothing. There are people who need this supplement and they should be able to get it because they've earned it. If SSI/Disability wasn't given to people who ARE capable of working, there would be sufficient funding for those that really need it. And, our government would probably save money too.

How can welfare recipients earn their checks?

Okay, so I really am coming to the end of my rant. I promise. There are just so many things wrong about the way we encourage laziness and apathy in this country. An attitude of entitlement seems to be a virtue but it's wrong. This country was founded on the virtue of hard work. Our ancestors knew what it was to earn a living but today that concept is foreign to an awful lot of folks.

I'm not smart enough to have all the answers but I'm smart enough to have some ideas. So maybe the recipients of all these programs can't work 40-60 hours a week like I've done most of my life. But I'd just bet that if the criteria for these programs was a little more stringent, we could weed out the dead weight and use the funds for those that really need it. There is plenty of work that could be done in our communities; work that would benefit all of us who are paying for the programs. So let's think about it. What if we had a real assessment of a person's ability before putting them in a government program. Surely some would meet the standard for being able to do "something", even if only on a limited basis. Couldn't we let them choose from a list of specific volunteer opportunities, call it community service, and require them to volunteer a few hours a week in exchange for the benefit? There are many things that need to be done that wouldn't require a full time schedule. For instance:

  • picking up trash along our roadways
  • pulling weeds from public properties or cemeteries
  • serving at a soup kitchen or sorting at at a food bank
  • manning recycling centers
  • assisting with day care or after-school programs
  • volunteering in literacy programs in our jails or prisons
  • visiting the elderly in nursing homes
  • feeding first responders (i.e. firemen, EMS, Police)

I have only scratched the surface here but perhaps I've planted a seed. Maybe you agree with me and will be motivated to share this suggestion with your elected officials. Sometimes it only takes one person telling the right person to create positive change. Gandhi tells us to "Be the change you want to see in the world". Nice thought huh?

© 2012 Linda Crist, All rights reserved.

Read more of my hubs here.


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