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Guest columnist: Hard Case

America's welfare system

March 3, 2010

One of the first debates I had with my husband was over eight years ago. I was working as bartender and he was an off duty cook patronizing the bar. We were not married or even dating at the time. He called me altruistic. I called him an asshole.

On this particular day my soon-to-be husband and another man sat down at my bar and proceeded to discuss the welfare system in America. Both men thought that the welfare system should be eliminated.

I got pregnant at the age of 18. At 18, you can hardly find an apartment to rent without a co-signer, a decent job that will allow you to support yourself and a child, and a reliable vehicle. In Michigan there are government funded programs that allow you to pay rent based on your income. For a period of time I utilized one of these programs.

The fact is that there are plenty of people who use the system as a means for life support indefinitely. I do not agree with this. In my opinion I used the system as it was intended. For a short period of time to get my life in order so I could be self sufficient. I thought then, and still think, that it’s better to have something to help those who legitimately want to do the right thing, even if it’s only 1 out of every 30. To me every life is valuable. To write me off at 18 years old as worthless because I got pregnant just doesn't seem right.

What my husband helped me to understand is that this is not a legitimate role for government.

In my opinion the real issue isn’t whether these types of programs should exist. It’s whether the government should fund them and whether the government is capable of running them successfully. I define success as helping people become self reliant.

I can speak from firsthand experience and tell you that there are some amazing people, people that are worth helping that need these or similar programs for a short time. They absolutely need to exist, just not via the government.

The government uses these programs to take away our freedom. Programs like this do not teach people to be self reliant and accountable. Instead they reinforce the need for assistance, thus limiting our abilities to pursue our God given purpose on this earth.

I can personally speak to the way such programs are run under government supervision. How you get penalized for working harder. The way the system is set up, you are better off financially if you are not working than if you are. Essentially you have to really want to be self-sufficient to make the sacrifices needed. Most people do not see or understand the benefit.

Wouldn’t it be great if these programs were funded by people in our own communities and funded voluntarily? It would be phenomenal if people running these programs were personally invested in the people using these programs. If those using the programs had to be held accountable to another human being who could counsel and help assess the need for assistance. I think we need to take these programs out of government hands and limit the time each individual is allowed to use these programs.

Let's stop enabling people to waste life, and start investing in each individual’s future.


From Belmont, Michigan

March 13, 2010 - Way to go Case. Quite a bit of your story is all too familiar. I worked for GM, got laid off, exhausted all benefits and had to seek assistance for a short period of time. I could never grasp the concept of sitting home EVERY month, waiting for the mailperson to bring me a check. My daughters were teased because we received food stamps. Thankfully, even though I was laid off indefinitely, my job provided tuition for college which I took full advantage of. I am glad it was there when I needed it, but it should not be a lifestyle. - G.G., Reno

March 4, 2010 - Wow! And this is my niece!!! I am so very proud of her... I love you Casey! - Mary, Ohio

March 4, 2010 - There is an old homeless man who comes to our door every so often and asks to shovel our driveway for 5 bucks. If he doesn't pick up his shovel then he doesn't eat (or get his booze, I'm not sure which). Sometimes it's easier on our pride to quietly let the government provide for us instead of going out and picking up our own shovel. (That is my wierd way of agreeing with what you're saying... just in case it didn't come out clearly.) - Samantha, Michigan

March 4, 2010 - Congratulations on your attitude. It cheers me to see somebody who needed some help but kept her principles and didn't become a lifelong welfare recipient. I thought I was the only one. Me? Pregnant and moved out of my parent's house at 16. Independent and off the government dole by age 18. - Cindy Sue, Minnesota



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