Wednesday, July 15, 2009

My Way or No Way: A Comparison Between Children & Americans

My two-year-old, bless her, is a study in yin and yang. One second, she's as ornery as can be, the next, she's giving me hugs and kisses and telling me she loves me. How do you discipline such wild swings in temperament? It's like the little girl with a curl in the middle of her forehead: when she's good, she's very, very good but when she's bad, she's (sort of) wicked. Actually, I have it quite easy, as parenting goes. I have no qualms counting to three and actually administering the threatened punishment. I refuse to raise my voice unless we're too far for normal speaking distances. These traits have developed (thankfully) a mostly obedient child. I just take it really badly when "instant obedience to orders" isn't fulfilled...

Which made me think of Americans and how we act with our government. When we want something, we whine and moan and gripe until we're given what we want. When we something gets taken away, we bellyache until the cows come home. It's not much different from how our two-year-olds try to manipulate us into doing what they want. How many people work to change their situations instead of making the government pay for their poor decisions? How many people work to help others instead of forcing the government to support them? May I remind everyone that all this "help" comes at our own expense?

Whatever happened to helping each other out and tackling problems on a local scale instead of at the national level? Why can't communities provide the primary help their needy folks require? Don't go thinking right away that I'm a stingy Rebulican who can't stand poor people. Nothing could be further from the truth. I like helping people in need, but I feel my definition of need is much different from the government's.

Case in point: A married couple buys a house in 2003 even though their incomes show that they really shouldn't. They decide to have kids even though they can barely support themselves. They whine about barely being able to pay bills while pulling out all the most up-to-date techie gear and watching their 700 channels of cable or while shopping (again). In 2009, one of their cars breaks down. There's no money to pay for repairs, so they decide to get a new one. They take out yet another loan to pay for something they can't afford. This drains all their savings, which means they are now below their state's poverty level. Now, they qualify for all sorts of government assistance like food stamps, WIC, reduced tax rates and other expense-reducing benefits. Why, why, WHY? They caused their own problems, quite happily, I may add.

Their very bad financial decisions put them below the poverty level, not some horrid accident. They still have 700 channels, fancy phones, and the highest cell phone plans. They still go out to eat and shop regularly. They don't employ any bill-reducing practices like turning lights off or running the A/C slightly higher so they pay a little less. In my mind, that's just wilfull stupidity reaping its own rewards. (Yes, several people tried to warn them about their spending...repeatedly).

Who qualifies for help in my mind? The single parent who is trying to go to school and work part time to support her family and get ahead. The person who got seriously injured on the job and can't work anymore. The refugees and immigrants who are trying to start a life in a new country. People who are working three jobs but still can't make ends meet. These people need some assistance, some encouragement.

If you need information on why you should get out of debt and how you can do it, check out Beating Debt. This non-profit organization offers excellent resources (for minimal prices) that will help you take a realistic look at your income and expenses and how they are used. Check it out, and let me know what you think.

-Domestic Goddess out.

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