Wednesday, September 1, 2010

A Nation of Beggars

Destroyer of the human spirit

1 in 6 Americans are availing themselves of government assistance.  Yes, you read that correctly.  1 in 6.  The assistance comes in many forms - Medicaid, Food Stamps, Cash Benefits, WIC, Welfare and Unemployement.  Apparently Medicare and Social Security don't count because they are not considered "assistance" but rather "entitlements".

Let me tell you a little story.  When I was growing up, my parents decided to jump off a cliff and follow their dream.  This dream led them from a home, surrounded by family and friends and a wonderful support network to 25 acres of raw land in the middle of nowhere (quite literally) with nothing.  Really, we had nothing.  We knew no one.  Neither of my parents had a job.  Our property was beautiful but devoid of any infrastructure.  There were no buildings, no well, no septic system, no power.  Just rolling fields, tall timber and two creeks.

As I said, my parents moved to this secluded wilderness with no jobs and no prospects, but with an intense desire to live their dreams and the internal fortitude to achieve their quest.  It was no walk in the park.  We spent the first month and a half living in a tent, taking baths in the glacier fed creek and working.  Hard.  We built an outhouse, fenced 25 acres, hand-dug a spring and lined it with cedar, put in a septic system, had power brought in, moved in a single-wide trailer, cut and split eight cord of wood and hauled a winters worth of hay for our five horses.  We accomplished all of this in three months, quite literally by the sweat of our brows.

Fall rolled around and my dad had to find work.  There was very little to be found - nothing in his previous profession of iron working.  There were not a lot of skyscrapers in the backwoods!  He eventually found a job pushing a broom on the night shift of a local saw mill.  He hated every minute of it, but he did it, and was thankful for the work, because he needed to provide for his family.  After working there a short time, he was hired to mechanic for a logger.  This logger was busy, so my dad spent much of his time on the ground under huge logging equipment.  It was a terrible job.  Cold, hard, back-breaking work it was, but it was better than being a janitor at a saw mill, and he did it without complaining.  Our very first Thanksgiving was spent with my dad at his job.  We all lay on the cold November ground beneath a skidder so that we could have Thanksgiving Dinner as a family.  And you know what?  We were truly grateful.

The first winter was the hardest.  We had not lived in our new place long enough for my dad to be able to hunt, so we had no meat.  Money was non-existent, so we had to make do with little or nothing.  By the grace of God, our pastor had connections in farming community about 8 hours away and brought home a truck load of apples and a truck load of potatoes and gave them to families in the church.  We went into winter with some jars of canned goods that my mom had canned from her large garden before we left, a couple hundred pounds of potatoes and about a hundred pounds of apples.  That was it.  Nothing more.

Our nearest neighbor (about a half a mile away) took pity on us and brought a rabbit to grace our dinner table occasionally.  Another neighbor gave us extra eggs from time to time.  As a rule, we didn't eat breakfast or lunch, but my mom always found something to make for dinner.  We never went hungry.  A cause for great excitement came when my Grandma would send a "care package".  It was like Christmas in a box!  She sent breakfast cereal,  cans of soup, toilet paper, toothpaste and all kinds of goodies.  We had never felt more blessed.

We kids never knew we were poor.  My brother and I both have the BEST childhood memories of anyone we know.  Neither one of us ever felt deprived of any good thing.  We had our parents, a roof over our head, food in our bellies (such as it was) and a God that loved us.  What more could children want?  Nothing. 

You may ask what this little story has to do with the price of tea in China.  Everything!  While we were busy being poor, we were learning the most important lessons in life.  We learned that hard work really does pay off and that good things are worth waiting for.  We learned that there is pride to be had in a job well done.  We learned that going without wasn't a bad thing.  It wasn't something to be avoided, but rather something to be embraced as it built our character.  We learned to stand in the face of the impossible and, through sheer grit, make it possible.  We learned to stand on our own two feet and never admit defeat.  Our parents taught us to be adults.  They taught us to be responsible, to fight our own fights and to stand up after we had been knocked down.  They taught us independence.

Our government is destroying what is best in the human spirit.  By always "bailing" people out our government is crippling its' citizens.  Just like a parent that continually provides money and shelter to their drug addict adult child or the parent that lets their adult children live in their basement, eat pizza a play video games all day "just until they find direction", our government is creating generations of "adult children", dependent on them for their daily bread.  It is stealing our independence, our self-esteem and our very individuality.

It is not bad to suffer.  It is not bad to struggle.  Hardship and strife do not produce hopeless, helpless shells of humanity, rather they produce vital, strong, merciful human beings capable of changing their world.

Our government should not be in the roll of indulgent parents.  They should be facilitators of freedom, justice and independence - none of which are dependent on the almighty dollar.  By constantly "assisting" people, our government is destroying the human spirit.

If my parents could make it through years of hardship to realize their dreams, I daresay the majority of the American public could benefit from a little "character building" themselves.


  1. You hit it out of the park on this one. Nail right on the head.

  2. Beautifully said and all too true. We are becoming a nation of ill-educated freeloaders. Thank you for this essay.

  3. That was a wonderful essay. So honest, so heartfelt, so right. What a childhood!

    America has become a nation of crybabies, freeloaders, and enablers. I still have hope, though. I talke with people who think as you and I do, they are everywhere. Unlike the dependent class, the backbone of America is quiet, respectful, and seldom gets any attention in the LameStreamMedia. That was, until the Tea Parties, the Restoring Honor Rally last weekend in Washington, DC, and city hall meetings across the country. America's backbone is stiffening, we're tired of supporting the freeloaders of the world. We will take back our country, restore the Constitution, and through charity we will assist those who truly need help.

    I enjoy all your blog topics, but your political and cultural essays are magnificent. Please keep them coming.

    NoCal Gal

  4. Just another perfect example of why I follow your blog everyday.
    I wish everyone could read your poigant, powerful and true words.

  5. Thank-you for the excellent article! I will be sharing it.

  6. Wonderful post! It's great the way you can take the things that my husband and I believe and write them out so clearly. Your childhood does sound wonderful. Thank you so much for sharing!

  7. When your family received food from neighbors and church, is that really charity, or an investment in the community? If that food goes to a family that is busting their hump every day, I'd call that an investment. "Charity" is the last thing in the world that food represents when given to hardworking people.

  8. Well done, and amen. May the Good Lord bless you.

  9. Thank you for writing and posting this. I wonder how things worked out for your parents ... you said you learned that hard work pays off, so it sounds as though life was easier after that first year.

  10. Enola:

    Thanks for sharing your upbringing & it's heartfelt lesson.

    We too are 'modern homesteaders' attempting to foster in us & our children, all that is decent, upright & good, by God's grace.

    It's been our observation that the mirage of Humanism is becoming apparent - and many of us are answering the call of the LORD and of our destiny, to rebuild the foundations.

    It's not easy, but it is rewarding. We believe that building character is training in Principles that are eternal.

    I'd like to write more, but I can see my children outside tending to our garden, and the Kubota tractor & piles of dirt to be graded prior to the coming storm are calling for my attention.

    Never happier than tending to the Garden, with our children.

    Same for y'all, so it seems !

    Samuel Adams Jr. - Republic of Texas

  11. First time I've read your blog, and I must say that I'm impressed. As others have pointed out, you have articulated what I've been thinking for a long time. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with the rest of us!

  12. Amen! Amen! and Amen! Just what I needed to "hear" today. We live a life balancing a teeter totter between "self-sustaining homesteading" on our small farm and "keeping up with the world" around us. Our best times are when we can just close the gate and remain at home. We work hard... all nine of us. Our greatest frustrations come from the "suburbia" around us, who expect us to maintain their lifestyle. THANK YOU so much for your blog today. It was exactly what the LORD wanted me to hear. Bless you!

  13. Hello,
    My name is Chad and I have been reading your blog from the first and making my way through it like a good book. I haven't commented on any of your post until now because I haven't had anything to say. But I must say, this post made me feel guilty. Its a good thing and makes me want to strive for more, but let me explain. My wife and I receive food stamps, WIC (we are expecting our first) and my wife is in Medicade because we couldn't afford a midwife. Now I was raised to be independent and hard working and I can tell you in all honesty that I work harder then most and the best of it is I really love to do hard work. Pitching hay, puling fence, training horses are favored hobbies. But even with my love for work and strong ethics, getting a job took me 6 months and I applied at over 100 jobs and was turned down because I made a mistake at 16 and have a felony on my record. I'm 28 now and I can tell you the God is the only reason my life is better and I a the man I am today. But back to the point, even after getting the part time job I have right now, every penny I make the collectors take and every side job I get has to go to them too. So as a result I we live with my parents, I work 6 hour days and spend the rest of my day looking for more work or working when I can find it. Without medicade my wife would never have been able to be see about our pregnancy and get a doctor. As soon as the bills get low enough we will be off the insurance and food stamps, but without them I dont know what we would have done.