Entitlement? Benefits Should Have Strings Attached

The entitlement mentality is killing America. We can solve the problem by restoring self-esteem, independence and self reliance. To do so you must care about the people being helped.

The old Chinese proverb says, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day.  Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”  There is often a kernel of truth in these old sayings. 

This week the news reported the number of people on food stamps increasing by 32% over the last four years.  Depending on your political belief this can be either a drain on the treasury or a compassionate step any advanced society would require.  During the discussions there was a lot of talk about both sides of this argument, but very little talk about the impact it has on the individual.

In the not too distant past, we were an agriculture society and a lot of families were migrant farm workers.  Being a migrant farm worker is not something you wake up to one day and say, “What a great career opportunity, my family will benefit from this path.”  Being a farm worker is something you became because you lacked an education or your life choices prevented you from moving out of current family circumstances and starting a business or attending a trade school.

Most of us read the Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck published in 1939.  In this book Steinbeck wrote knowingly about the migration into California.  Reading the book, one comes to understand migrant farm workers were a hardy breed who toiled daily trying to scratch out a living for their families.  Everybody in the family worked hard from sunup to sundown.  The workers involved every member of the family with youngsters picking up a bucket to help pick produce from a very early age.  What you don’t read in this or other books about the time period is the demand by people for government assistance.  Actually, a good many of these hard working Americans distrusted the government.  Bottom line, these individuals had a strong sense of self, a strong work ethic, and a commitment to family. 

The question we should ask ourselves is: What is the difference between the people in the 1920’s and 1930’s and the people today?  It is worth exploring the idea of expectations.  In the 20’s people did not expect help.  Neighbors, members of the same congregation or local charities were there and would step in to help, but the people receiving help were anxious to avoid getting help for any longer than necessary.  The aid affected these people’s self-image. 

Today, there is a sense of entitlement.  People who are accepting aid assume it comes from the government and they are getting exactly what they deserve.  Somewhere along the line people receiving help forgot that the government has no money.  Any money the government spends to help one family must be taken from another family. Not thinking about where the money comes from while accepting the modern media’s title of victim, the individual’s self-identification, does not require independence or a strong sense of self-worth.

For those jumping out of their chairs and yelling that we are in a recession—relax, I understand.  But if we drop the term victim and start talking about the benefits of independence, we can start getting to the problem.

There are jobs available.  There are more skilled jobs available than there are skilled workers ready to take the jobs.  A major step in that direction was the work requirement which came from entitlement reform during the Bill Clinton
presidency. There is controversy over what President Obama did or didn’t do with this program, but the fact remains real unemployment is around 14% and 32% more people are on food stamps.

I am suggesting any benefits given to a family should come with strings attached.  To get fed, get educated.  Want money for housing?  Attend trade classes developed to fill the type of jobs available today.  Private industry would be willing to set up training classes if they could see a return for their invested dollars.  This would require changing the tax code to allow for training of skilled craftsmen in areas of need. 

Business will not invest on promises; they have to see where the return will come from before investing the money.  If a manufacturer could make the numbers work out, they would train the skilled labor needed to make a profit.  There will be large numbers of exceptions to include those with severe disabilities, the aged and the injured.  Common sense still exists in this country; we can make a program work.

The first step to solving this problem is to really care about those receiving aid.

To solve the problem we must want the best for this generation. The generations to follow need to see their parents getting up and going to work.  Initially there will be problems and issues which need to be worked out. But they need to be worked out with the best long-term interest of the people. 

People are not victims of society; they are victims of their decisions.  People are not entitled to anything but love and help overcoming a temporary situation.  This government has no right to take money from one working family and give it to a family which is unwilling to work.

The government does have the responsibility to facilitate the transition from an entitlement mentality to individual responsibility and well-earned self-esteem.

What do you think?

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Martin Henderson (Editor) October 23, 2012 at 03:43 AM
The one thing I really hate about your comment -- and I'm sure you don't mean it this way -- is that it appears the entire blame/onus is on the woman, as if it's entirely her fault that she had a child and the father is nowhere to be found. The whole thing is a vicious circle, and when you're down and out trying to raise a kid, it's pretty hard to get ahead (you work to earn money for childcare that allows you to work). Empowering women with control of their reproductive rights "will get your desired results" is at best only part of the answer; eliminating deadbeat dads will go a long way toward it as well as it relates to the problem you describe. In any case, even with an investment in education and training, it will take many years to get everything back to "the good old days."
MFriedrich October 23, 2012 at 03:59 AM
I'm sorry you "hate" my comment. I agree with your comment. I didn't mention the role of biological fathers in my comment. I didn't intentionally mean to dismiss them. Or did I? You need a license to own a gun, operate a vehicle, open a business, practice law or medicine. But any jerk off out there walking on the sidewalk can become a biological father in less than 2 minutes. That's the reality. And some dads stick around, but a greater number don't. Forcing dads to pay child support is one thing, but this in and of itself does NOT solve the poverty issue that everyone in this country despises, because its not a problem you can throw money at. It's complicated. The solution involves a long-term investment is hands-on counseling, education, and yes money. And the failure or recidivism rates are high. From a business lens, anti-poverty programs are "losers" and should be scrapped immediately. But the human misery and robbery of youth that takes place under poverty is inexcusable in modern society and, while we we're thinking like a business person, it's also shameful waste of precious human resource. But America doesn't want this Most Americans expect people to be held accountable and "get with the program" or check out. I don't blame people for having this attitude. I'm just saying that it starts and stops with empowering women. Preventing unwanted pregnancy is a must because it's a hopeless fight without that factor under better control.
fact checker October 23, 2012 at 04:09 AM
I think that entitlements are only objectionable to those who don't need them and begrudge them to others who do. Check back with me when your family is hungry or when you sign up for Medicare.
MFriedrich October 23, 2012 at 04:43 AM
It seems like we talk about poor people and welfare policies as if poor people are so far away and not at all like us. Except most Americans do not own businesses and a greater number of us are simply at-will employees (no contract). Since job loss is one of the leading causes of poverty in America, many of us are just one unsatisfied boss away from the public dole?
Panglonymous October 23, 2012 at 06:17 AM
Do a search for the county welfare hospital nearest to your address and map it. That's one concrete measure of how far away "they" are. Not pretending to be holier-than-thou. This could be a good discussion. One seldom had.
Martin Henderson (Editor) October 23, 2012 at 07:53 AM
I can personally attest to this: there are a lot of unemployed people out there who are busting their humps trying to get employed. Unemployment insurance, which they've paid into for years, is their only lifeline. Additional circumstances can also impact whether someone becomes poor. There are many very talented people out there who can't find work.
tiny October 23, 2012 at 03:44 PM
www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ib9N7L9y08&feature=related www.youtube.com/watch?v=hlgnHpfEogo
MFriedrich October 23, 2012 at 05:40 PM
This is a great point by Martin and Pan above. Living off unemployment benefits is a serious issue to try and work through, since most Americans do not have savings. Most people on average have a credit card balance of $2,500 or more. Getting sick is the other issue. I've witnessed job loss by both family members, neighbors and close friends. It's very strange, but these things always seem to come in packages of 2 or 3. 1. Job loss. 2. Huge amounts of personal stress. 3. Serious illness. Losing your job often means losing your health insurance, if you had any in the first place. For someone who is American middle class, that's one set of challenges and issues. But you can easily imagine how the same problem is exponentially worse for someone who is poor.
Panglonymous October 23, 2012 at 08:26 PM
Good questions for candidates: Regarding the skilled unemployed in their 40's-60's who have exhausted their 99-weeks of unemployment - many of whom finally stop looking for work altogether, judging further efforts as futile: Would you support deficit spending to fund immediate relief for these workforce untouchables? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CwpdGyIY2fQ [60 Minutes segment - The 99ers] http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/closetohome/view/ [PBS Frontline doc - Close to Home] Do you think it likely that the great majority of these individuals can be reintegrated into the productive workforce? If so, how; if not, what will become of them? http://www.google.com/search?q=companies+not+hiring+unemployed
Yeparoo October 23, 2012 at 08:45 PM
Just a ramdom thought. If the federal government will be making cost/benefit judgement calls on who lives and dies for those covered by government sponsored health plans, then why not make similar cost/benefit judgement calls for those covered under food assistance? Since the so called "Farm Bill" is 80% food stamps, isn't it the federal government's responsibility to make sure those public monies are spent wisely? Why not put strict limitations on the use of food stamp (EBT, CalFresh) resources? The public should no longer pay for alcohol, tobacco and deadly sugary products. When a family of 4 can live off of $65 per week and obtain all their nutrients at Whole Foods, I'd say (and I realize I'm running the risk of being MSNBC'd with racist rhetoric), it's time for and IFAD, or Independent Food Advisory Board. This way, the government can control the daily nutrition of those who need a hand up from the government.
Panglonymous October 23, 2012 at 08:57 PM
"The public should no longer pay for alcohol, tobacco and deadly sugary products." Don't these all have a sedative/tranquilizing effect on the potentially disaffected?
MFriedrich October 23, 2012 at 11:03 PM
I can't say for other states, but California's rules for food stamps are very clear. You cannot use them to buy alcohol, tobacco, pet food, non-food items like soap, toothpaste, toilet paper, cigarettes, vitamins and medicines, nor hot food for immediate consumption (i.e. restaurant food), hot foods. Stores will not allow people to buy such products with foodstamps, because they cannot process the food stamp itself. If you see someone doing this, it's a serious offense and you should report it to local authorities. Plus the store owner would no doubt want to know which employees are granting such sales. http://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/retailers/eligible.htm http://foodstampguide.org/using-food-stamps/ People who get caught misusing food stamps are disqualified from future eligibility for 12 months or more, face state and federal fines and prison time. It's really not worth it. Plus the Feds are cracking down harshly on the Craigslist EBT food stamp card rip offs, so like, duh!
Yeparoo October 24, 2012 at 12:19 AM
mf - This would explain why 7-11 accepts the EBT cards. I'm sure the Pasta and Broccoli is flying off of their shelves when someone whips out the EBT card. Ever stand in line behind an EBT customer and watch the Crapolla that is processed through? Ever heard of EBT fraud? Ever heard of the concept that money is fungible? Let's see, if I use my EBT card for Pasta and Broccoli, I can use MY cash for Silver Bullets and Winstons (or Taringtons for those who would rather fight than switch). Why don't you google "EBT Fraud."
tiny October 24, 2012 at 02:01 AM
I feel people, myself included, divide themselves from those that are suffering more. Regarding that youtube video, it shows that room full of folks in their 40s-60s with college educations in need. Well, how one can distance themselves is by thinking it's immigrants and their offspring, or something else. Well yes, but these folks understand things better and probably are living more in the real world now. But look at things with an independent mind folks. The bad thing is people may think they are seperate from what's going on until it affects them directly. I'm rambling.
MFriedrich October 24, 2012 at 08:30 AM
Yeparoo, I've read about EBT fraud. And yes I've seen people buy twinkies and 2 liter bottles of red coca cola with their EBT cards. I never claimed that there wasn't fraud taking place. It obviously is rampant. I'm just saying that there are guidelines, that you can report fraud, and that the penalties are more significant now than ever before. It's a lot like insurance fraud. People are going to jail for this crap for up to 3 years believe it or not. I get your point. Let's prevent beneficiaries from buying high sugar, high sodium products. OK, how do we do that without sounding like a Proposition 37 supporter? I assume you would want machines to read the content data on the food labels, and not for a H.S. grad human to do it for each item. Whatever it is, your idea better not take too long because at 2:00 a.m in a 7-11 patrons gotta make moves and break out of there. Otherwise people get beat up. As for trading EBTs for cash and other items (or services), my response would be "yep".
Yeparoo October 24, 2012 at 04:52 PM
"OK, how do we do that without sounding like a Proposition 37 supporter?" - Easy. You form an IFAB. An unelected board of 11 nutritionists who will decide what is approved purchases for government food assistance. I would suggest that the board EXCLUDE food industry "experts." Start with representatives from the Mayo Clinic, Cleveland Clinic and Johns Hopkins. Just my opinion, but a lack of proper NUTRITION practices accounts for a minimum of 50% of the healthcare costs in the USA. It is a known fact that people on food stamps are significantly more obese than the general population. It wouldn't hurt to take away the Mountain Dews and Ding Dongs. 2 Priceless EBT videos: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lDwr3CL6MII http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XQ-ZnerbV8w&feature=related
Panglonymous October 24, 2012 at 04:53 PM
What happened to Mr. Webb? Did he get tangled in his strings? :-)
MFriedrich October 24, 2012 at 05:30 PM
I don't know man. Me and my big mouth.We veered way off course. Back to Obama is a communist..*rabble rabble*...big government!...*rabble rabble*..welfare moms!!!!..*rabble rabble*.....dey took r joobs!.....
John Webb October 24, 2012 at 09:13 PM
I am still here and listening. This is a great discussion that is not taking place in the general population. When we, the people, start talking about the government and government programs things will start changing. I know several people making comments here who are not conservative, and who have a clear understanding of what is happening with both State and Federal Government programs. I like that this discussion has been about facts and not personalities. Everybody taking part is being exposed to different ideas. So, yes I am here and learning.
Lawrence (Larry) McCook October 25, 2012 at 03:57 PM
How many people have noticed that Social Security is now being referred to as a Federal Benefit by the U. S. Government? Hmmmm? It seems like to me that I paid a lot of money into this program for a lot of years. A small refund on a long term investment.
MFriedrich October 25, 2012 at 04:54 PM
Larry, At least you got something. My generation (born after 1970) will get nothing. And the fact is that many babyboomers got paid S.S. over their elderly lifetime far in excess of their contribution and a historical 8% return. Social Security was already woefully underfunded by around 1980. The decision to move off the gold standard and deficit spend ourselves into oblivion certainly didn't help matters.
MFriedrich October 25, 2012 at 04:57 PM
In fact, they are taking out 8% out of every paycheck I earn - money that I know I will never ever see again in my lifetime because there will be NO SOCIAL SECURITY. Anyone born after 1975 who is not saving and investing like a banshee for their personal retirement right now is pretty much screwed. The estimates are that this is 70% of the US population born after 1975, since we are a charge it society.
Lawrence (Larry) McCook October 26, 2012 at 04:29 AM
If Congress would repay the one trillion dollars that they borrowed (diverted ) from Social Security then there would be an extremely increased longevity for the program. If anyone in the private sector did this financial manipulation, they would be in jail.
tiny October 26, 2012 at 05:24 PM
Passionista: www.youtube.com/watch?v=8mwwT4J7qI0&feature=related
Yeparoo October 26, 2012 at 06:01 PM
"If Congress would repay the one trillion dollars that they borrowed (diverted ) from Social Security then there would be an extremely increased longevity for the program. " - Sorry Larry, the "borrowed" money is gone. No trust fund. No lockbox. So it's time to stop pretending SS is a mutual fund / piggy bank. You are fundamentally misunderstanding SS. It is not a savings program. It is a social safety net program. It's sole purpose is to provide a bare minimum floor of funds to sustain life (maybe not to your standard of living, but this is the intent). As long as the Federal Government keeps up the charade that we have all these different "funds of money," they'll keep playing three card monty with us. Hey, they'll even fool smart people too. My suspicion is that SS will eventually be reduced (effectively eliminated) for any person who can provide for themselves. I think eventually "means testing" will hit SS. Since no politician could propose this at the risk of political suicide, it will have to be implemented by an "IRAB," or Independent Retirement Advisory Board. An unelected board of 11 members who will decide who deserves SS and who doesn't.
cheryl clark October 27, 2012 at 08:18 AM
I guess you figure that you've got yours, so let the poor starve or be your servant. California used to be the envy of the other states--now, because of politicians like you, you'd rather kick the poor to the curb, rather than pay the taxes you should and give others a chance to reach your lofty level.
CDC October 28, 2012 at 06:49 PM
"There are more skilled jobs available than there are skilled workers ready to take the jobs." Really? So tell me again John why my high paying skilled job was outsourced to a guy in China working for a head of cabbage? LET ME CLUE YOU IN JOHN...ANY job going over a wire came and most likely WILL be outsourced if the company is run by greedy low life A$$holes. A French style revolution is coming soon to this country. YOU can see it clear as day. We are getting closer to the tipping point with the end of the middle class. Go down to Mexico and soak in that lovely two class system. Is that what you want John???
John Webb October 28, 2012 at 10:05 PM
Really? So tell me again John why my high paying skilled job was outsourced to a guy in China working for a head of cabbage? I guess you figure that you've got yours, so let the poor starve or be your servant These two comments outline the problem exactly. Cheryl is thinking the Government has her back when they are exactly the people restricting opportunity. CDC believes he has the right to have a job regardless of who loses money. This is the point. Rules and regulations increase the cost of producing things in this country. The EPA is working to kill the coal industry and restrict any energy source that is not in favor of the elite ruling class. Go back and read your history. Prior to the Progressive movement the USA was the hope of the world. As we move further down the progressive trail (where the smart elite make decisions they figure we are too stupid to make for ourselves) there becomes less opportunity and more government. CDC you do not have a right to have a job, you have an opportunity to choose any job you want or create your own. Chery, business people do not want to keep you down, they want to build you up so you can spend more, increase your life style and help carry the economy. Take a few minutes to research our history and you will see the truth. Be smarter than those wanting you to follow them.
cheryl clark October 30, 2012 at 06:37 AM
Oh please! You and your business friends just want the govt. to leave you aloneso you can screw over your employees and customers as much as you can. Look at these people killed and sickened by contaminated steroid shots. They should have been governmentally restricted, but apparently they just allowed fungus to grow in rooms where they prepared prescription drugs. They should have been MORE strictly monitored by the govt.
John Webb October 30, 2012 at 07:29 PM
Cheryl your remarks remind me of the following quote: "Sometimes people do not want to hear the truth because they don't want their illusions destroyed." Fredrich Nietzsche. .


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