During the various debates about Stimulus bills and all those assorted other “safety net” bills that have been passed or proposed there has been many comments about the moral imperative for doing this. The most current proposal is the one to extend unemployment benefits to over 2 years and lots of other help for welfare programs. Although they don’t really use that tag very much any more. They never refer to them as welfare programs but “jobs bills” or some other euphemism for transferring money for those who have a little to some who allegedly have less. We have retraining programs, food stamp programs, free lunch programs, the unemployment for sure, medicaid and those student loans that add up to thousands per year per student for them to attend a vocational school to learn to do computer work or drive a truck. Then of course there are all those programs to aid people with their mortgage payments to keep them off the street.
You have heard some of those pundits talk about how it would be cruel or unconscionable to not pass these pieces of legislation because people are in pain and suffering and they will die without our help, at least to hear them tell it. They paint a picture of the most dire circumstances for people and make the case that if Government, Inc. doesn’t step in and help they will starve and be without food or shelter.
There is certainly nothing wrong with charity and having a charitable outlook on your fellow-man. It is good for everyone when someone offers a helping hand to another in need. I ponder though if all these programs or good for the intended recipients or for society generally. Other than complete dependence on politicians do these programs really promote and encourage the kind of society we want?
One thinks back about 3 generations to the Great Depression. That wasn’t merely a couple of years of pain. It lasted until 1942 after starting in 1929. The unemployment rate was never less than the mid teens and often was over 20%. There was no food stamp programs, there were no free lunches, there was no Federal welfare program like we have now, there were no unemployment benefits remotely comparable to those of today, there was no medicaid, medicare or social security. They didn’t get student loans and there was no j0b retraining programs sponsored by the Feds. The reality was that you were pretty much on your own. Oh, sure there was the CCC and the TVA and WPA but those were temporary jobs with low pay. No one made a career of working there.
The current group of some politicians seem to think that we are completely helpless without the Feds in our lives to take care of us. Don’t take my word for anything, please go talk to some people who lived through the Great Depression. There are plenty of them around still. You have a grandfather or great-grandmother or someone likely who grew up during that era. All the States and most counties had a local welfare system that was over loaded during that entire period. They did what they could for people with the resources available. There were lots of charitable groups, primarily the churches, that helped people with needs. Often it would be the local neighborhood or community that would pitch in for those with needs. Even those helping out didn’t have anything. Everyone learned to make do. They made out one way or another.
With all its horrors the fact is people had babies, although not as many (check the census records for that dip), they worked when they could, they planted their own gardens anyplace with a bit of land and did without. They did without lots of things. Bunches of them would have loved to own a radio but the cost was beyond the reach of some. But just as today most find a way to get one for their favorite radio shows in the evening. There weren’t piles of dead bodies on the streets. The kids were a smart and did as well as any other generation in school. Everyone had some kind of r0of over their head and something on the plate at night. It might have only been potatoes and rice but they had something. Sure there were some hobo camps and the scenes from the Grapes of Wrath but those were temporary again. The reality is no one lived there for years. And the Grapes of Wrath remember is fiction to promote an agenda of the era for a more socialist form of government.
I have no idea how I would have dealt with such hardship. It must have been terribly depressing to go year after year with no improvement in sight. Kids got one pair of shoes a year and sure didn’t need a walk-in closet to hold their duds. Without government help for the most part they all figured out a way to survive and they built character. Those young people became the Greatest Generation and brought us to a new level of living both materially and morally. Their were severely challenged and stood up to the hardships of their day. Their souls and characters were hardened like steel going through those experiences. I don’t advocate hardship as a learning experience but I do wish that some would have more confidence in the people than they do in government. I hope we are not becoming a dependent and soft class of people who believes the world owes them a living.
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