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.
If the government keeps on the path of making decisions for us regarding our health then they should mandate that everyone be on birth control unless they can prove that they won't need government assistance after having a child. Because right now, there are cretins in existance who have kids just to get money from the goverment and then neglect their children no doubt. If the lawmakers are sooo concerned about going green and carbon footprints then how about taking a look at how this family will negatively impact the environment. Do you think they will ever care to recycle? (Not even for money, because they government takes care of them!)
The same realization struck me when I was watching ABC's 20/20 story about Somer Thompson, the litte girl who was abducted walking home from school. Let me first point out… SOMER WAS 7 YEARS OLD!The media, the government and millions of people around the world blame the school district. WHY?!?! because Somer lived too close to the school to be eligible to ride the bus.No one says, "why was a 7 yr old walking to and from school alone?"NO ONE!!!!Then I read in a SOCIOLOGY textbook, how poverty and its affiliated characteristics cannot be resolved simply by asking more of ourselves, requiring more effort, motivation, will power… OH NO!!! These things are biological, pre-wired into our DNA and so hard to overcome that few ever do. IT IS NOT ANYONES FAULT WHEN 40-60% OF WHO YOU ARE IS BEYOND YOUR CONTROL ?!?!?!? Excuse after excuse is given for why we don't demand excellence from ourselves, why we are not accountable to raise our own children, why we support generation after generation to drain the "system"… we have every reason, done all the research and know who's fault it is as long as it's not our own.My own step daughter said to me once when she was about 7; "momma why are you using your money?" when I paid cash for groceries. In her mind, groceries were only purchased with food stamps because her mother has never worked more than 6 months in her entire 36 years alive. She sits on SSI because she failed to control her diabetes, gets Section 8, foodstamps, free school lunch, reduced utility costs, Medi-Cal and Indian Money (which by the way does not have to be claimed as income according to welfare rules) and there is NO CONSEQUENCE!!! We ALL have to come to a point where we are TIRED!! Tired of working for essentially nothing, tired of supporting the lax rules of the welfare system, tired of encouraging the lazy and tired of making excuses for our lack of responsibility. OUR KIDS, OUR SUCCESS, OUR FAILURES, OUR PROBLEM!!! IF YOU ARE NOT MOTIVATED TO STRIVE FOR MORE, THEN YOU HAVE NO REASON BEING HERE!!! ok, I am calm 🙂
My first thought was that I hope this new tenant doesn't somehow get ahold of this blog…then I thought better. I hope she does. I won't do any good. In this society of existentialism, nothing matters unless the individual decides it matters. Life is meaningless to these people with no higher consciousness. A world without a biblical world view is a place of despair. Smile anyway! Uncle Bill loves you!P.S. Either next blog works.
I grew up in a 'Rust Belt' suburb of Buffalo NY in the late 70's. Everyone was a democrat (it meant something different back then) and everyone worked a union job, went to church, took care of their own yard, and spanked their kids. Back then, if a family was on welfare…they were SHUNNED. Publicly and privately they were ridiculed and outcast. Believe it or not, that was a great deterrent for sucking on the gov't teat. But we have allowed an angry minority to have a voice, get in the media, and convice us that ridicule is 'mean' and everyone is entitled to live thier life how they want… Now there are laws that do not allow Jamie's Mom from denying Alice this place to rent. So, at the BARRELL OF A GUN, your government is legislating who you allow live in your home and how that person pays for it…What happened to the 60's anti-government generation? They are now in charge of the asylum…and they are growing government and attaining power and control beyond the pale.I encourage everyone who reads this to SPEAK THE HELL UP. It is ok for you to tell people that they suck and are not living the way they should. Time for peer pressure to come back!
I think we miss the point too that, not only is this not good for tax payers, it isn't good for Alice either. I learned in college about Maslow's hierarchy of needs. At the top of all human needs is self-actualization. That means achieving our potential. Everyone has different potential to be sure, but after meeting someone like Alice I know that she is capable of so much more and I feel strongly that she would be happier pursuing that self-actualization as well.
I wanted to share what my grandma wrote me in response to this blog. We must appreciate the wisdom of our elders:From my grandma Annie:I would be proud to have you post it if you feel that it will help us get closer to realizing that we need to step up and take care of our own. By instilling in them to take responsibility for their own actions. Love you and keep it up.Annie — On Tue, 4/20/10, jamie rudolph wrote:From: jamie rudolph Subject: RE: This is what happens when the government tries to "help" too muchTo: "Annie" Date: Tuesday, April 20, 2010, 9:37 PM Grandma, Thank you so much for your encouragement. It means so much to me. Can I post your comment on my blog, attributed to "my grandma"? I think your wisdom, experience and hard work ethic needs to be seen and respected, and dare I say, even copied. JamieDate: Tue, 20 Apr 2010 21:28:42 -0700From: Subject: Re: This is what happens when the government tries to "help" too muchTo: Jamie you tell it just like it is. Yes, I know quite a few ladies that qualify to be Alice. We need people like you that step up and I pray that someday we can all take responsibility for our self. I myself keep getting letters from the gas company, light company, etc. that I qualify for help but somehow it was instilled in me that I should take care of myself and my family. You are right that our children will do what they see us do. I have learned a lot by reading your blog. Keep it up and thank you for sending them to me.Annie
Government grows and grows and grows until there are no more people to tax because everyone has stopped working!Good post. 🙂
Excellent post! I couldn't agree more with everything. I wanted to throw in a recent storyline from a webcomic I read because I think mostly through media produced by others and the ideas represented therein. I have laid the storyline out (in which computer engineers are forced by their employers to live healthily) on my goofy, hand-coded website. I hope it instills a few chuckles! http://bullfrog117.com/other/nannyState.phpKeep up the great work Jamie – I am proud of your defense of the First Amendment (and other sundry constitutional things). ;-DP.S. I'm more interested in hearing about the Social Security BS for your next entry. 😀
Back in the deep dark past, I did what most people of my age did – I went to University. When my parents moved overseas for work, I found myself without gainful employment, without much in the way of income, and with a full time study-load. Now in the strange land in which I was raised, our university education was free… well it had been since '75. Unfortunately (for me), the year I started, it became no longer "free". But it wasn't too bad- instead of borrowing from glorified loan-sharks, we were allowed to borrow from the Government instead. Our student loans were payed back directly by the student in the students future taxes. (Amazingly, I believe this actually works)So I could still go to school. Now how to support myself?Turns out, with my parents overseas, I could make a case for the "living away from home allowance". The Government would give me money to mind my parents house while they live in a foreign country! Awesome. But it was not to be. My middle-income parents (both of whom worked very hard) had too much income, even though I didn't see any of it. Boo Hoo, you say. Get a damn job and support yourself.. right?Well sure.Except that the real problem is not my story. It's the story of my wealthy friend. My friend went to a private school, lived at home with his parents. His mother didn't work. His father, apparently rarely lifted a finger, as his business was more-or-less self-sustaining. So I was more than a little surprised when he managed, through careful accounting, to qualify for the very Government Aid for which I was ineligible. What's the point? Why bother telling us this? The point is that the larger the system, the more likely it can be gamed.. taken advantage of.. defrauded even. Social Welfare programs are the hallmark of any well-developed society. The key isn't to eliminate them, but to be vigilant against fraud, and against unintended side-effects of blind bureaucracy. The myopic application of the letter of the law.. the loophole. If they applied the same hoops to getting welfare as they do to legal immigration, maybe we'd start seeing some improvements. But consider : what is it about Alice that bugs us? Is it that her behavior is unhealthy for her? That it propagates to her children? Or is that it is so easy for her to get away with? What of her "men"? What kind of spineless blights on society are they that they don't insist on taking care of their women? But how should we help her? You could always offer to let her stay rent free – provided the family's "men" move in. She wouldn't need any government rental assistance, and so it wouldn't matter they no longer qualify.But I doubt she'd want to be "beholden" to you like that 🙂
eRaz – What bothers me about Alice is not her choice of lifestyle, her choice of men, or her choice of childrearing… It is her "expectation of entitlement". Ask her and she will tell you she "deserves" that money…she is "owed" that money. But you are right….Alice is not the problem…she is the symptom. She is the wart on the face of American society… The disease is a virus, deep down in the annals of the US Government that continues to multiply and survive off the rotting flesh that is the American taxpayer. The Wart is only the surface defect that we can see. Cut off the wart….it just comes back. Burn it, freeze it, chop it, put medicine on it…it keeps coming back. But kill the virus….ahhhhh….now that's the ticket.
But why does it bug you that she feels she "deserves" the money? Are there none who are deserving of any kind of assistance? Or, if there are some who deserve aid, must they rely only on charity? Why? If it's only because you feel charities are more efficient, then why not make government aid more efficient? For me the problem is twofold : 1/ Those who believe they deserve assistance, when clearly they are perfectly capable of taking care of themselves. 2/ A system which is so easily defrauded, that the truly deserving end up in the minority of those served by it. The problem I have with Alice is somewhat related to the problem that I have with the kind of Charities who claim to be sending your money overseas to help starving orphans, but really only a tiny fraction of that aid ever gets there (and I'm not talking about legitimate expenses, either). Basically, it's fraud, plain and simple.
The problem with people feeling "entitled" to entitlements of government assistance is that that is what keeps those who don't truly need it coming for it. A single mom hit by car who will never walk again and has no family to help support her is the type of person that we should help. But as you said, government bureaucracies are so large and inefficient that they can't effectively draw the distinction between that person and Alice. So our tax dollars are wasted as the number of people who believe that it is the government's job to take care of them grows. Also, when I give to a charity to take care of someone needy I get the reward of giving and that person get's the reward of knowing that others are generous to help. None of those benefits exist when the government reaches into my pocket to put money in Alice's pocket.
Ms. Jamie Rudolph
I agree with you 150%…..in some respects the government promotes bad behavior.
I am partly to blame because I had NO CHOICE but get on ‘disability’, after my accident. I have NO children and am single….so I get about $700.00 every month. I have been on ‘disability’ since March 1st, 1998 (date of TBI).
Completely the opposite of ‘Alice’ is I am desperately want to begin making some sort of paycheck.
I was able to earn a BS in Entrepreneur Studies from the Lloyd Greif Center inside the Marshall School of Business. I have plans to begin my own Personal Training Company that specializes in ‘patient rehabilitation’
Jamie, when I first met you I was a lot more reliant on others for everything. 12 years into my Rehab I am becoming self sufficient. I am certain you are somewhat amazed at the transformation that has taken place…..I know, I sure am.
With many people ‘out of work’
You are the example of why we need a safety net and the type of person that we want to help. I am so proud of the work you have done. I am glad that our tax dollars have been there to help you and I know that someday soon you are going to be self-sufficient again and I cheer your entrepreneurial spirit.