But for every one of them, for every one of the people who use public assistance for emergencies and as temporary stop-gap measures for which these programs were designed, there are those who fully believe that the state and federal governments, to say nothing of the whole world, owe them a living. They deserve to be supported by the taxpayer, they are entitled to this. They see nothing wrong with not working, not paying into the system, only taking out of it. My old department head at the high school used to supplement his own income teaching night school. He once told his students, mostly young, single, teenage mothers, “Do this. Finish this course. Get your diploma. And then you can get a job and support your kids.” To which they replied, almost in one voice, “Why? Why would we do that? Right now, we don’t have to work. We get paid to do just what we’re doing right now.”
The recent election is what spawned this whole piece. And more than that, the “fiscal cliff” awaits and it scares me. I don’t really have faith that either the recently re-elected president or even his opponent can — or could — do much about it, and Congress certainly shows no signs of fixing the problems. Raising taxes isn’t the biggest piece of the puzzle, as I see it. (That’s a whole different argument I don’t have the space to address here).
It’s the entitlement programs that need to be examined. I don’t really care that Democrats will criticize my point of view as a Republican one. That kind of thinking is what got us into this fix in the first place. Governments at the state and most certainly at the federal level need to make sure that Momma and Poppa and the people just like them who contribute to the system are not overlooked for those who don’t.
Chris Cluney lives in West Newbury.