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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.


Submit a Comment

  • RealestMotherDear profile image

    RealestMotherDear 3 years ago from Louisiana

    We have a community garden in my home town. It's free to the public and maintained by a church. There is always extra food during harvest.

  • lrc7815 profile image

    Linda Crist 3 years ago from Central Virginia

    Hello RealestMotherDea. Thank you for your visit and thoughtful comment. I agree that we certainly have a long ways to go in the area of reform. Interestingly, to me anyway, is that as the economy got worse, many of my hard-working friends began embracing the idea of growing their own food, raising their own chickens, etc. It's certainly less expensive to feed a family this way and healthier too. That concept just seems to evade the people who would benefit from it the most. I can't help but wonder how this problem would be affected if those who receive assistance were required to contribute to community gardens, etc.

  • RealestMotherDear profile image

    RealestMotherDear 3 years ago from Louisiana

    Honestly, when I'm at walmart in line behind a woman who has a loaded buggy of groceries paid for with government money, it's usually junk. Maybe there is a pack of breaded frozen shrimp in the mix, but for the most part I see college dorm junk food (noodles, snack cakes, soda, etc.). There have been some recent reforms in Louisiana that I am happy to see. Those who receive emergency cash assistance can no longer buy cigarettes or lottery tickets. Also, milk, cheese, eggs and veggies are provided through WIC.

  • lrc7815 profile image

    Linda Crist 5 years ago from Central Virginia

    Starmom41, don't I wish I had the answer. The system is just broken. I was speaking to a friend recently who is Indian (Native American). She said to me that she was so mad at her own people because they have been handed things for so long that they don't want to do anything for themselves. It made me think about how a generation teaches the next generation to live the same way. Sooner or later we need to put the responsibility back on our society to take care of itself. But, how to you impress the lawmakers that they are doing more harm than good?

    Thanks for the question. We need more dialogues like this among voting, working people.

  • profile image

    Starmom41 5 years ago

    @lrc7815: Can I ask your opinion on something? I'm not "hard-line against" these or other programs, but something I've seen a lot of in recent years baffles me:

    first, individuals who receive SSDI when their only 'disability' is alcohol/drug addiction. In THIS area, it's less about the people themselves than their doctors TELLING them to apply for SSDI.

    second, why is it while felons do not even have the right to vote, they can live off all of these government programs (food stamps, Section 8, etc. etc.)?

    What it comes down to is many receive so much "assistance" from various programs that they have more coming in each month than I do- and I have a full-time job!

  • lrc7815 profile image

    Linda Crist 5 years ago from Central Virginia

    Hello Nick. Thanks for stopping by and for providing additional commentary. It sounds like Australia is a step ahead of the U.S. on this issue.

  • Nick Hanlon profile image

    Nick Hanlon 5 years ago from Chiang Mai

    In Australia we had a work for the dole scheme that was for the long term unemployed.I have no problem with a government scheme where you get paid a daily rate for manual labour that you can opt in or out of anytime you choose.Unemployment would be slashed overnight.All the welfare schemes for able-bodied people would be united into this one programme.

  • junko profile image

    junko 5 years ago

    Irc7815, You are not blind or unreasonable about what you see and in your solution. I don't know the answer, but I also have an idea solution. Your ideas about finding work to do for Government Checks would beautify America, but really does nothing for the dignity of the recipient. My Idea would give dignity to the recipient and save the Government on cost and overhead. My idea is to offer any and all ssi and food stamp recipient a minimum wage job with an opportunity for overtime. That would mean that all the able bodied in large household can work in pool their money and live a better life. I understand that in order for Capitalism to work, unemployment must be part of the mix. There is too much unemployment in the underclass.

  • soconfident profile image

    Derrick Bennett 5 years ago

    Yes its sad that the way things are set up lazy people are cheating the systems with food stamps, section8, and other government programs. There are people who try to buy products with food stamps. Also it was said that food stamps was used at a strip club. We really need to rethink those who need these government aids

  • lrc7815 profile image

    Linda Crist 5 years ago from Central Virginia

    OMG Davesworld, that's the attitude that put this country where we are today. How do you change it? It's so rampant. Someone who read my hub sent me a private message to say that I didn't understand SSI. That person is getting a disability check that is so small that it's almost a joke but, she is one that really deserves it. After apologizing for offending her, I told her that I was sure her check would be sufficiently more if so many were not abusing the system. It's just so wrong.

    You're a stronger person than me Davesworld. I am certain I could not have held my tongue in that meeting. And I'm sure I would have lost the contract for speaking out.

    Not so long ago I was told by a government employee that on any given day you can walk into a Veterans Administration facility and find 30% of the workstations unoccupied because the employees just didn't show up for work. hHe said no one asks why and their is no disciplinary action taken for those that just don't show up. When so many are out of work, and genuinely want a job, it's just another example of what is wrong at the top.

    As long as I can still find people like you who think like me, I have hope. lol Thanks for the comments.

  • Davesworld profile image

    Davesworld 5 years ago from Cottage Grove, MN 55016

    Maybe this will help. One of the first jobs I held in the computer industry was as a consultant helping the state automate medical payments to nursing homes and hospitals. It was a ways back, Richard Nixon was president. Nixon wanted to change welfare into a jobs program similar to what you suggest somewhat derisively called "workfare." I sat in a meeting one day with the upity-ups of the state's welfare department and the subject of workfare came up.

    To this day I have not forgotten what the Deputy Director of the Welfare Department said concerning workfare: "What does that do for the dignity of the recipient?" Nodding heads all around with the bureaucrats. Being far far down on the pecking list I was not supposed to speak unless spoken to, but I sure wanted to. I mean what does a handout to do the "dignity of the recipient?"

    You see, they think differently than you and me.