I have those days where I’m wondering at 10 a.m. why I bothered to come to work. Nothing but issue after issue, and feeling like I’m getting only a quarter of what needs to be done accomplished in the amount of time each task is taking. Being commission only, and running a business, I am cost conscious of everything. I try to use my time as economically as I can, but some days feel like they escape me. And when that happens I get frustrated. Still, I’m happy to have a vocation.
We have been through a rough several years financially. We have had our share of assistance through friends and family. And we are paying back what we can as fast as we can. It will be a little while from now, but we will eventually pay it off. And we try to pay it forward as much as we can too.
So, being a bit of a hippie, I’ve always believed in helping those who need it. I don’t begrudge anyone who truly tries to support themselves and their family. And I am the first to understand the embarrassment of having to ask for help. I know the thankfulness that comes with wondering how you are going to get coats for the kids for the winter, pay the emergency room bill, only to have someone drop by a box of clothes for the kids, and have the billing department make payment arrangements with you. So, yes I see the need.
I see the families that rely on food stamps. I know the people that have lost their jobs, their homes, their cars, and are not sure when it will get better. But those in the families that still have jobs show up gladly so they can keep them. And the kids on the lunch program at least are given the dignity to go through the lunch line just like all the others, and not have any indication that they are on assistance. No stigma should be attached to children.
I support the programs that help people when they are down, temporarily. And that is what these programs are designed to do. They are not designed to be a sole source of support, because you give up. They aren’t sustainable when taken advantage of for too long.
But nothing makes my blood boil faster than those who cheat the system. Nothing makes me see red more than people feeling “entitled.” Nobody is entitled, and certainly not to live off programs supported by taxes as an “alternative” to being employed. We haven’t evolved that far from having to chase down our food. The only difference now is that the food is in the grocer’s display case, not behind a big rock, waiting to eat us.
Which brings to bear my reevaluation of how I feel about “entitlement” programs. There needs to be a way to weed out the cheaters and those too lazy to be bothered supporting themselves. I think that the welfare, unemployment or disability pay should have some requirements added to the eligibility criteria.
How about drug tests? Each time you pick up a check you pee in the cup. That would weed out some.
And what about treating it more like a subsidy, a loan if you will, than just a flat out payment. If, for example, someone is on unemployment for more than three months, all subsequent payments are taxable, and to be paid back out of the checks they receive from their employment when they get work at 5% of their pretax dollars until it is paid off? And benefits will last for up to 12 months. That’s the lifetime maximum. No more. You’ll be amazed at what people will figure out when they have to. And what about if instead of unemployment, if the person does not have a degree, they must go to occupational therapy for 40 hours per week while they are unemployed. The hours could be flexible, and there could be vouchers for childcare, with job placement at the end of the program. But that would be paid back too.
And while we are making changes to programs, let’s bring down some of those college costs. Less people on the dole if they have a degree and a chance to stay employed at a job they had to work for before they ever applied.
Now, the whole disability crowd… Those that can’t physically be at a job can learn to work at a computer from their home, in many cases. The state could supply the computer and Internet along with training. I think most people would agree that a large portion of those on disability may not be able to perform many tasks, however they are still able to do something. The majority of those that would qualify for disability would be able to work for it by data entry, or even scanning docs into a system that they could upload to the main data base. Again, make the hours flexible, but require so much work be done for the money that is earned, or the pay of the program is reduced. Less disability payout, as cost would be recouped with production.
This of course would require classifying levels of disability, and for someone who is just unable to sit for hours on end could work from home getting the work done with frequent breaks, etc. It at least bears review. And I believe that each candidate on either permanent or long term disability should have to re qualify every six months. When I see news reports of blind people doing data entry, holding down jobs, or otherwise supporting themselves despite their limitations, I find it hard to believe that more cannot do the same. Not all people can work, and I understand that. But those who can’t work at their usual profession due to an injury can be retrained and productive in another area.
Welfare. If you are taking any sort of assistance, there can be no additions to the family while you are on this program, or that child will not be covered. And again, it should be a subsidy situation with a lifetime cap, to be paid back once gainful employment has been achieved.
Work/earning a paycheck gives people something that can’t be gained otherwise: The sense of self worth. It needs to be felt to be appreciated, and once one gets a taste of having some money that is theirs through earning, it becomes addictive. In a good way.
Now, while we are at it, let’s legalize drugs, so that these people don’t go black market on us for their mainstay of income. But that’s a discussion for another time.