I sincerely hope that everyone had a wonderful Easter, and got their tax return mailed or filed before the deadline.

There are certain drawbacks to having your email address posted on your blog. One is getting spam, especially those folks who want you to open up a bank or credit account so they can transfer money from another country and give you a percentage for your trouble. (Yeah, right…) The second is getting flaming, toxic emails concerning an earlier post.

But before I begin, let me reiterate – I am not against the aged, infirm, or those who are otherwise physically or mentally incapable of working from receiving Welfare – there is a social and/or moral obligation to take care of these people who cannot take care of themselves. The people that I have problems with are those persons who believe that Welfare is their God-given right, believe that they are entitled to it, are physically & mentally able to work for a living, but choose not to.

The earlier post was titled Thoughts on Immigration & Other Social Ills, and the writer of the email took exception to my generalization of Welfare recipients. I could not respond to this email since any response to the address returned an error (message cannot be delivered – address invalid). The email was also poorly written and full of profanity that I care not post or repeat the contents, but the main thrust of it was that I was an idiot and just do not understand the situation. Oh, but I do!!

Soon after the divorce from my first wife many years ago, I was literally one paycheck away from bankruptcy. Bills, attorney fees, credit cards, rent, loans, etc. took up just about everything I earned. In an effort to save money, I moved from the two-bedroom apartment that my son, ex-wife, and I had been living in, to a decent but cheap apartment on the other side of town. One of the reasons it was so cheap was that it was next to “the Projects.” Almost every town has them, the apartments that Welfare recipients live in, and are often laden with gang or drug activity.

Being the only white person within blocks was very uncomfortable for me as well as my neighbors, who definitely distrusted anyone not of their race. For the most part, they left me alone and I left them alone until one day I looked out of the window. I saw one of my neighbors run out of her apartment followed by a cloud of smoke! Not thinking to call 911, I grabbed a fire extinguisher that I had & headed on out the door. The woman was coughing a lot, and I stopped long enough to ask her if any of her kids was home (she had two pre-schoolers). She shook her head no, and I went on in to her apartment, and found a very bad grease fire in the process of spreading to the rest of the kitchen. I managed to put it out, and came back out of the apartment to be greeted by the rest of the neighborhood and the fire department. Of course, everyone looked at me like an alien from Mars, but that was OK. The woman was fine, and the fire department told me later that if the fire had not been controlled at the point that I had gotten to it, it would have been possible that the apartment and perhaps the building itself could have been severely damaged. As it was, the apartment only suffered smoke damage.

From then on, everyone waved and talked to me when they could, and I was even invited to picnics. Thus, I got to know the mentality of many of these people. The bottom line is that they feel do not have a way out, and since they feel that they have no way out, they are thus entitled to the Welfare. Yes, training was available for them to improve their educational background, but if they went through the training and got a job, their benefits would be cut to a level below that they would be receiving from the Government. Thus, in general, they were better off just sitting around & not working. Some people did go out & try to work, but not very many. A sad situation, yes, but one that has been repeated in so many cities.

Then there is the other experience that I had. Again, same time frame, only at a grocery store.

Being in the dire financial pinch that I found myself in, the other area I cut back on was food. I virtually lived on Hamburger and Tuna Helper for several months. Going to the local discount grocery store, I got my meager supplies for the week, and went to the checkout line. I found myself behind a well dressed Black woman with jewelry, smelling faintly of nice perfume, and a fur coat. She had a huge stack of groceries that included canned veggies, steak, cereal, milk – everything that a well stocked pantry should have. The cashier gave her a total of over $250, and this lady proceeds to pull out of her very nice purse food stamps. Of course, I am absolutely floored!! She paid for the groceries and left with 7 or 8 bags of groceries.

I get to the cashier to pay for my one bag of groceries, and came face to face with one of the women from the Projects. During the following greetings & small-talk, she made the following statement to me about the previous customer, “She sure knows how to work the system, don’t she?” I paid for my groceries with a couple of bills & some change in my pocket, grabbed my bag of groceries, went out the door, and proceeded to watch the well-dressed woman drive off in a new Cadillac. Another situation that has been repeated many times, and just as sad.

In the first instance, the people of the Projects have no incentive to improve their situation because to do so will reduce any benefits they receive. In the second instance, the well dressed woman has no incentive to change as all of her needs are met and exceeded. In both cases, the status quo is maintained.

To the person who wrote me the email, I understand fully what people in the Projects experience – the hopelessness, the fear, the absolute depression that their situation brings. I also understand that there are people who take unfair advantage of the system, depriving benefits from those people who desparately need the help. Welfare by itself is not a bad thing, but the abuse and the cradle-to-grave entitlements must end. Therefore, reform must take place, but must happen so that everyone has the chance to succeed. And I realize that not everyone has that capability. So did our Founding Fathers.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

This is what our Founding Fathers stated in the Declaration of Independence. They stated that everyone has the right to make something of themselves, and understood that not everyone could succeed. They did not state in any of the documents that founded this country that people who failed would be taken care of by the Government.

Rather, much of what we call welfare today was taken care of by the churches and some of the village elders. Their help was mostly limited to helping someone get back on their feet, but it was the recipient’s responsibility to stand on their own two feet. Those who didn’t were either run out of town, became beggars, starved, or all of the preceeding & more.

Are we a more civilized society today? Perhaps, but we, as a society, are not doing anyone any favors by not providing incentives for people to get themselves off of Welfare and back into mainstream society. And maybe it’s too late to do that…