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In the course of a day, one can run into many people with differing opinions on everything, especially on politics. Seeing that I live on a college campus, it is almost a rule that any new acquaintance is a bleeding heart liberal until proven otherwise. Working at FW and interacting with people with much more similar viewpoints compared to my own, it is easy to forget that there are people out there, working in similarly structured organizations who believe the exact opposite, and who are also campaigning hard to bring about the changes they feel are necessary to shape America in their own ways.
One of my good friends has an internship at a left- leaning center for social issues this summer, and I ran into him a couple of days ago. While social issues are normally outside the realm of FW because they don’t affect the finances of our country (or at least they shouldn’t) the way this center sees it, it is hardly possible not to have tax dollars invested in these programs.
As I spoke to my friend, he outlined many problems with America’s youth, all of them as legitimate as they are pressing. As this is a blog dedicated to fiscal conservatism, I shall not delve into these issues, but rather, the solutions devised by this organization. All of the problems he mentioned were caused by “the broken government- imposed system.” All of the solutions contained the phrase, “the government must.”
This is a curious and confusing juxtaposition, seeing that the government seems to be a part of the solution and also the problem as well. As someone who believes that the main role of government is to protect the individual rights to life, liberty, and property, the idea that the government “must do something” is an erroneous one, a solution that doesn’t address the problem and swallows tax money. As a side note, with regards to the problems my friend mentioned, I personally feel that many of them stem from being irresponsible and downright stupid, a conclusion he would describe as lacking in simple humanity and decency. Curiously, my friend doesn’t see taking away money from my future family or my responsibly behaving parents as indecent or inhumane.
This brings me to the main point of this article. It is my firm belief that Americans now more than ever are dependent on government for help. Gone are the notions of the “American spirit” where a man or woman would take care of her family no matter what it took and what hardships were necessary to endure. This dependence on government is well illustrated with a recent quote from Congressional challenger Mick Mulvaney, who remarked:
“In just a generation Washington has gone from ‘Ask not what your country can do for you …’ to ‘We will guarantee your GM warranty.’”
Recently, I read an opinion piece in the Politico (page 18 June 25, 2010) on jobless benefits. Attached with the article was a picture of a gentleman holding up a sign that read, “Put me to work now!” When my dad was laid off from a position he held for over 25 years in 2006, he did not waste time parading around with a sign or attending rallies. Rather, he spent three months looking for jobs, attending job fairs, and working various part time jobs. He also re- qualified himself for the new position that he eventually got. However, in the interim, he did jobs well below his qualifications for minimum wage. For a man who arrived in America as a young adult with next to nothing, learned English on the fly while attending night school, and whose first encounter with an American was with a homeless man who held a BA in the same field which he studied earlier, he turned out all right. But what if he stood around with a “put me to work now” sign? The Hill is not a Willy Wonka factory where wonders and treats are around every corner, withheld from a needy public.
Citizens must stop relying on the government and take initiative into their own hands. Our friends living in the shadow of Mt. Olympus (that’s Greece, just in case) already know what it means to run the government well dry. Yet, they refuse to take even the smallest cut in their benefits, and the Greek government is pondering declaring bankruptcy. This scenario would be disastrous for everyone in America, and I believe that no one wants such a situation to occur. However, the road to financial ruin is lined with good intentions and that road might take us to the doorstep of the Chinese treasury.
Finally, a good example of how an American should act comes from the movie Cinderella Man. The protagonist, a professional boxer, loses everything during the Depression, and at one point, his head hung in shame, he takes a welfare pay out from the state. After a reversal of fortunes, one of the first things he does is return a wad of cash to the same office from which he took that check. How many people would be ashamed to take money from the government nowadays, and how many would voluntarily return checks back to the state? Sadly, few.
Only personal accountability, self sacrifice, and self reliance will help get us out of the financial situation which we face today. Whether they be social problems or financial ones, the government is almost never the answer.