My mom just called me on her way to sign paperwork with a new tenant in a building that we own together. She was calling me to vent. Let me introduce her new tenant to you. We will call her “Alice” since I think we have all gone down the rabbit hole…
Alice is a 40-something year-old single mother of two daughters. My mom said she is sweet and well-spoken and friendly. Alice is renting our 3 bedroom apartment in Huntington Harbor. It’s a very nice place. I used to live there. We remodeled the kitchen. Spared no expense. Alice is moving in with her two daughters, age 15 and 23 and her two grand kids (from the 23 year-old). Alice’s “proof of income” statement for my mom showed her and her older daughter getting a combined $1000+ in welfare, $600 per month in food stamps and $2100 per month in housing (that’s $3700+ total if you are counting). By the way, Alice has been receiving housing subsidies from the government for 12 years.
My step dad Gil noticed a wedding ring on Alice’s hand and asked her if she was married. “We don’t live with our men,” she replied, “because then we wouldn’t get government assistance anymore.” So Alice chooses not to get married or live with her long time boyfriend because then she and her husband would have to start taking responsibility for their own financial needs.
And the reason they are moving? When her 23 year-old daughter had another baby a few months ago, Alice qualified for a 3 bedroom apartment instead of a 2 bedroom apartment. By the way, the daughter that has two children by two different men chose not to live with or marry either of her baby daddies either.
Before my mom called me, I was watching a show called “Life” on the discovery channel. A mama orca was teaching her baby how to hunt for seals in shallow water and avoid getting beached. The commentator mentioned that one of the things that makes mammals unique is how we pass down information from generation to generation; teaching our young by example. It then is easy to understand how Alice never graduated high school and neither did her daughter. Alice never married the father of her children, and neither did her daughter. Alice has lived more than a decade on government assistance. What should we expect from her daughter?
So then I read today that the FDA wants to outlaw too much salt in foods. (Stay with me here, I promise it’s connected). The government can now mandate that we buy health insurance. Maybe they should mandate that we all buy gym memberships too?
Here’s my point: The government cannot legislate good decisions. All they succeed in doing is stripping away at the sense of personal responsibility and accountability that teaches good decision making through positive and negative consequences. The federal government got involved in providing school lunches decades ago because kids were malnourished. Now the government wants to try to fix the fact that kids in school are obese because the government has been feeding them processed food high in fat, salt and calories. How about this? Let the parents feed their kids and take responsibility for their weight. Let local government fill in any gaps in a smaller community setting where parents can get involved in the decisions of what foods are provided to their children.
Now back to Alice. The government cannot legislate common sense or good decisions. But the government can and does encourage bad decisions though enabling those behaviors. The government inadvertently encouraged Alice and her daughter not to get married to the fathers of their children by providing them a financial incentive not to. The government made the decision not to graduate high school easier by providing a means of income that requires no diploma and no work. And the government encourages people everyday to not go look for a job when they extend unemployment benefits from weeks to years.
My money, your money is being involuntarily collected to enable unproductive and unhealthy habits and behaviors. Even worse, we are creating a class of people dependent on the government for their every need, regardless of ability or desire to better themselves.
I believe in charity. I believe in giving to those less fortunate. I give to causes and organizations all the time that support people (and animals, because I’m a sucker for animals) in need. Every dollar that the government takes out of my paycheck and wastes in their misguided attempts to help “Alice” is a dollar that I don’t have to donate to a charity that gives a hand up out of a bad situation. The government’s hand holds people in a bad situation: dependence and lack of responsibility.
Next blog (you pick):
Why I will never see a dollar of the $80,000 I have paid into Social Security Insurance
What happens as government’s power grows?
Choose your own adventure.