Sunday, February 1, 2009

When I was younger and stupid(er)...

There has been a very interesting, and entertaining, thread on the TeamPaulC mail list. It basically ended with Andy saying that it’s too heated and so he is not discussing it any more. Sadly, it was NOT heated, although my attempt at humor MAY have offended some people, it WAS pretty funny. :)

However, Andy was right to call it quits, it was not going anywhere and it turned into a war of ideologies. But it made me think, and unfortunately I wrote it down, and here is my final reply to that thread.

Thanks Andrew and Linda.

We all did it, when we were young, we thought that we had all the answers. Really, what we had was an ideology based on how our parents raised us. Our ideology either was in step with our parents, or radically opposed. Over time it (hopefully) changes as we see how the world REALLY is and we decide on our own what to believe based on our own thoughts, not based on what our parents believed.

When I was young, I was certain that if we just said “NO!” to welfare the problem would be resolved. Yes, we would have a single generation that we would have to flush, but the NEXT generation would see that and strive to do better. Like I said, I was young and stupid. Now I see the folly of my youth. The fact is that almost everyone that I know has benefited from welfare, but lets just focus on my first hand knowledge.

When I was very young living in (depressed) rural Minnesota, I recall that we used food stamps, not because we WANTED to, but because we HAD to. One day my step mom made me a tuna fish sandwich for lunch, Pat saw it and said that he wanted one too, she said “No, there isn’t enough and look at how skinny Paulie is.” That REALLY happened. That really bugs me Pat, and I am sorry that it happened.

At the same time, I was not doing well in school and needed some help so I went to “transition”, the precursor to “headstart”. I got the help that I needed, but it set me back a year. Apparently, the help stuck because I ended up skipping fourth grade and that put me back to where I should be. Of course, at that point, we were living with theMom and her newly minted husband theDad and while I certainly cannot speak for Melanie and Pat, my life went from night to day and I am eternally grateful.

Many years later, I bought my first house and the government gave me a tax break, a slightly lower interest rate, and I did not have to put down as big a down payment. All forms of welfare.

Where would I be today without those programs? I am not sure, but it would not be as nice a place. Today I am a contributing member of society; I pay more taxes per year than Dad’s annual salary. I buy cars, clothes, computers, et cetera and that's what keeps the economy moving.

What is my point? Welfare is necessary, period. There are people that need help for whatever reason and it is our humane duty to help them. If a person breaks their back in an accident they cannot just be left to die, we need to help. If a child is born to a crack whore and we do not intervene, then that child (almost certainly) will become a drain on society. If a family just CANNOT make ends meet, than we need to make sure that the children can eat and feel safe. Period. There is no “yeah but what about…” It just needs to happen. Will we loose some welfare money to unscrupulous individuals? Yes. Is that a bummer? Yes. And you know what, as soon as we clean up all of the corporate malfeasance and abuse of corporate welfare, we should get right on that.

I KNOW who reads my blog, and I KNOW your histories. You have all been in need of welfare from the government or your family at some point, so think long and hard before you reply to this and say “government is too big” or “taxes are too high”. Think about the single mother and her cold hungry children, think about the high school graduate that cannot afford college, think about the single mom trying to get an education to make a better life.