In what could be considered an extension of my column from last week, which was about the misuse and abuse of government programs such as “food stamps,” EBT cards and welfare, I’ve been giving the matter a lot of thought on a broader scale.
I have a hard time understanding why so many people have such a sense of “entitlement” in today’s world, especially here in the United States. This is the only home I’ve ever known, so I can’t comment on other areas of the world and how they deal with social programs, if they even do. But here, there appears to be an ever-growing attitude the world somehow owes people something just for existing. I would really like to know when and how this way of thinking got started.
I suspect it, like a lot of things, came about gradually and evolved over time and it would be nearly impossible to point out an exact time, place or action when people started demanding the government or society as a whole should take care of them.
I remember as an elementary school student hearing about early settler Capt. John Smith who laid down the rule to his fellow immigrants, “if you don’t work, you don’t eat.” That’s pretty simple, and I would bet it was very effective in its time, and would be effective today if anyone had the guts to actually say it and, even more importantly, enforce it.
Of course, there always will be and always should be exceptions. If someone “in the old days” fell off their horse or had a farming accident which left them injured and unable to work, they weren’t expected to starve because of it. They were aided by their families, neighbors and other kind community members. Again, I’d like to know exactly when a person expected and demanded sustenance from the government.
Even back in the days of the Great Depression, government programs were put in place to help those in need, but those were far more than mere handouts. The recipients were expected to work for their payments and the results were many roads were built, electricity provided to the rural areas and other great infrastructure projects helped pull us out of the economic slump. A world war also played a large part in that, I’ve been told. The point is, people were given jobs, not just handed money.
The issue now making the news is employees of some fast-food restaurants and the world’s largest retail store chain are demanding higher wages because they don’t get paid enough to support their families. I know this will sound completely heartless to some of you, but everyone who has a job knew what the pay was going to be before they showed up for their first shift. We all accepted the terms of our employment -- you, me and the person at the drive-through window.
I have never heard of an employer paying someone based on the person’s economic needs. Never. In the stories about fast-food workers I have seen quotes along the lines of “I can’t afford to pay my rent, buy groceries and pay my utilities.” Is that really the employer’s fault or responsibility? The “bottom line” is always the prime concern of a company. It’s their very reason to exist. Workers are paid based on the value of the work they do, not on the wage they need. It’s really just as simple as that.
Having said all of this, I want to point out I don’t look down on anyone who is gainfully employed. A job is a job and as long as it’s honest work, you have my respect for doing it. But demanding $15 an hour to do work which requires only minimal skills and experience is ludicrous. Too many live under the illusion they are “entitled” to make $15 an hour because they have rent and bills to pay. Sorry, but free enterprise just doesn’t work that way.