607: Independence and Subsidies

 

AntGrasshopper

It used to be that Americans were independent and took care of their own.

Why is it now the responsibility of other citizens/taxpayers if I fail to adequately plan, provide for, and save for my own retirement (what used to be called my ‘declining years’)? When did that personal failure become a subsidized ‘right’?

Was it when the US government established the Social Security program in an effort to ameliorate the fallout from those grasshoppers who foolishly played and spent their lives away, while the ants prudently saved and stockpiled against an uncertain future?

Now that social security is firmly entrenched (even if the last generations of lawmakers have plundered the fund to help offset their own grasshopper profligate spending) Americans save even less than they ever did – and our performance as a nation never was too good on that score in the first place.

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Yeah, I’d LOVE to have spent my productive years engaged in pursuing my own interests (financially supporting or not) instead of reporting to work – but having proved myself stupid enough to be willing to work, I don’t qualify for any benefits for sitting on my fat behind.

The idea is that people work to support themselves. Each one responsible for him/herself – unless you have turned over your financial future to someone else who agrees to be responsible for both themselves AND you (this is what many women believe marriage is for – absolving them from all responsibility). If you put your care into the hands of another person and they fail to make adequate provisions for themselves and for you in the event something happens to them, well, they failed you.

My first husband did that – he let more than a half million life insurance policy lapse a few months before he unexpectedly died. Thank God I was already a working wife, and didn’t have all my eggs in his little basket, so I had something else to fall back on besides Uncle Sam. Plus, in the past, families cared for each other. When a family member became disabled or elderly and needed care, they were cared for within the family unit – not handed off for the government (really, other citizens/taxpayers) to care for.

It isn’t the fault of the citizens that you failed to provide for yourself – it isn’t even the fault of the citizens that you are disabled, and need assistance. Neither is it their fault if accident or illness befalls you that you didn’t plan for. Yup – it’s a tough break when that happens. Thankfully, assistance is available for those who are unable (legitimately unable, not having simply purchased their disability from an unethical physician) to provide for themselves, but it still isn’t the fault of others that they are disabled, such that others are then required to pay their way.

THAT is what used to be called charity, before charity became a dirty word, and it used to be the province of faith-based people who took up the slack and provided that assistance locally. They knew their neighbors, and they knew who really needed the help, and who needed the harsh life lessons earned by making very poor decisions.

You know, like the grasshopper.

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596: Competition for the Labor Market

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It has suddenly occurred to me that employers who are seeking employees are in competition with the Federal Government for those workers.

The employers have to be attractive enough with both the work AND the wages to offset the other option offered by the Federal Government: being able to sit on your butt pretty much 24/7, take benefits, and procreate for a living.

And it appears that the employers are losing the battle.

201: Getting Even

I am prey to the temptations of every other human. When someone mistreats me, my very first thoughts are not charitable ones. Often, my LATER thoughts are not particularly pleasant ones, either, depending on the degree of damage inflicted upon me. Now, I do try (most of the time) to rise above circumstance, and forgive like I was taught to do in Sunday School. I was taught to DO it, but they were really sketchy about exactly HOW to go about doing it. Sometimes I am pretty unwilling to forgive somebody who has wronged me – and after all, wronged me is something that happens in my own opinion. Sometimes I consider myself wronged when hindsight shows me quite clearly that they were trying to do, in genuine and sincere love, what was best for me. Even if, at the time, I was totally unwilling to concede that fact.

Ever taken a small child to the pediatrician for their inoculations? YOU know what is happening: you are, in love, defending that child from major, serious, life-ending illnesses that might actually kill them at some time in the future, in exchange for a little discomfort NOW. (Don’t you LOVE how doctors describe pain as “discomfort?”) You know this is an act of love – the kid does not particularly, or usually, see it this way. I don’t see tough love as something done for my own good, either. Especially at the time, even though I can (mostly always) acknowledge it later.

Still, forgiving someone is a tough business. If you search google.com for all the latest research on the benefits of forgiveness, you will rather quickly see from the articles you can read that forgiveness is not something that you need to do for the people who have wronged you – no. It is quite clear that when you can forgive someone who has wronged you, that there are significant benefits, emotionally and even physically, for you. In effect, holding onto anger and resentment hurts you, literally, and letting go of it liberates you from their malignant influence for good. Now, once again, like my Sunday School, that’s great, but how do you go about actually doing it?

One thing that works for me (sometimes) is just to state to myself that I forgive them, it’s over, and then every time my mind reminds me of it anyway, I repeat to myself that I have forgiven that offense, and that it is over and cannot hurt me anymore. After some time, it does get better, and I am reminded of it by my unconscious less and less. That has been successful with most minor things. There is one fairly major thing, though, that has proven to be a toughie. That one I still struggle with YEARS later. Lots of people have something major to deal with, like me. Some people have seriously been wronged, and wronged deliberately, not just by some horrible and jealous misunderstanding, like mine. I think, when that is the case, that someone who has been trained to counsel others is a good person to speak to. We go to a medical doctor when something is wrong medically, why not go to a professional for that problem, too? Even if they can’t solve it for you, often they have insights and suggestions that can help, even if the final forgiveness is ultimately something that you yourself must do.

Well. I’m working on it. One day I will achieve real forgiveness for this person. It will happen, because I’m not giving up on it.

96: What’s good?

What is good? Is good what harms no one? That’s what the doctors abide by. The Hippocratic oath (Hippocrates was the ‘father’ of medicine) is first, do no harm. So, is that good? If no one is harmed?

Is good supposed to mean what is best for everybody? That’s hard – maybe what’s best for most everybody? So – what about the ones that get left out – that ‘whatever’ is NOT good for? It’s awfully hard to please everybody – just ask a minister or a politician – or a school teacher. Some would claim that’s impossible. So, does that make a decision that is good for MOST everybody a good one, even if it’s not good for some?

What is the final determinator for something good? I doubt that anyone would claim that something good is whatever benefits YOU, irregardless of who else it benefits. I think most thinking people would agree that they are not the center of the universe, and that other people DO matter.

So, what is good? What do YOU think?