Archived Story

Use wisely that which is granted

Published 8:09pm Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Dear Editor,  

Since the Johnson administration with the great society, the war on poverty, and with the multiple social welfare programs, our country has dumped massive amounts of money and assistance of all kinds into trying to help “socially and financially disadvantaged people” deal with their needs. The curve of perceived needs have increased at a geometrical rate, and financial assistance provided has followed suit.

Our failing has been that we have not imposed appropriate expectations of behavior on those to whom we have granted magnanimous benefits and support. We have failed to put time limits on many of our financial assistance programs.

We have failed to require or even ask that beneficiaries show improvement in their socioeconomic status or productivity as a result of our assistance. We have failed to expect that people receiving benefits pay back those benefits in any manner.

Payback could involve service to others and to our country, not just money. Payback could involve being a good and productive citizen by pursuing education and working for self-support. Payback could involve becoming self-reliant through work and then assisting others to do the same. Payback could involve being a role model for the young. Payback could involve being a responsible parent and providing a stable home environment for children.

We have made the benefits system so rewarding that many people now find it more profitable not to work but to “game” the entitlements system. It seems that in many societies within our once great country, work and self-reliance have become dirty words.

Particularly among many young people, there seems to be a sense of pride at avoiding work and profiting from “gaming the system.”

We cannot ever spend enough money or effort to overcome those needs that we read and hear about in the media daily.

What we have done thus far with the massive entitlement system is to create and then perpetuate an addictive dependence that is every bit as destructive and disruptive as any cocaine or heroin addiction. We must pair assistance programs with expectations and requirements for responsible behavior, or we are very soon to see the collapse of our system of government.

Many others in our history have spoken to this issue. The parable of the talents teaches that we must use wisely that which is granted. God helps those who help themselves.

Frederick Douglass, an emancipated slave who became a successful businessman and statesman, enunciated four principles for our country’s success—limited government, self-reliance, support of the Constitution, equal rights and responsibilities under the law.

All governments fail when rights exceed responsibility. Our founders understood this. Judeo-Christian philosophy is guided by this. Our 220 plus national history is living proof of this.

Billy Sellers

Alexander City