Nov 09 2012
Fluffy can always be counted on to tell me something interesting, and yesterday was no exception. As we were eating lunch on our most recent mystery diner assignment, he told me about the latest scheme by the mayor of Chicago.
Apparently, the parents in Chicago can’t be bothered to go to parent-teacher conferences for their children or even look at their kiddies’ report cards. So Chicago is going to bribe parents to be parents by giving them $25 gift cards to Walgreens whenever they step up and do their parental duty.
This is not the first time that Chicago has bribed people to do what people should be doing anyway. According to the Huffington Post, the Chicago Police Department sponsored a project in June where people could take their guns to churches and exchange them for $100 gift cards from MasterCard.
Even if you took in a fake gun, presumably one you carved out of a bar of soap last time you were in the slammer, that would be good for a $10 gift card.
Something tells me I’m living in the wrong city.
We are living in strange days. In church we sing hymns that tell us to, “Choose the right when a choice is placed before us.” Once we leave church, however, society tells us to sit there and do nothing, because if you don’t choose the right thing on your own, somebody might pay you to do it.
We are following the story of a friend whose son is waiting to see if he qualifies for total disability and a monthly paycheck for the rest of his life. The son is in his late twenties. His disability? He has fibromyalgia.
When I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia more than twenty years ago, people who had fibromyalgia lived their lives around it. If you were a parent, you became a parent with fibromyalgia. If you were a schoolteacher, you were a schoolteacher with fibromyalgia. If you did heavy manual labor, you sucked it up and did heavy manual labor with fibromyalgia too. That’s the way life worked.
Today, things are apparently different. Fibromyalgia is one of many things that qualifies you for a golden ticket. If you get it, you can apparently sit on your rear end for the rest of your life and have the government support you. And the thing is, this kid is so determined not to work that if he doesn’t get his government check, he’ll starve before he goes to work. I can understand why his mother is so anguished about this. If the government doesn’t put him on the dole, he’s going to expect her to support him and she can’t afford to do it.
It’s not just fibromyalgia “victims” who expect a free ride for no apparent reason. Everyone seems to be looking for a golden ticket. Working is hard. It isn’t fun. Why do something that is hard and isn’t fun if someone will pay you to sit home and watch television?
Apparently not everyone was raised by the same mother I was.
I’m not saying that nobody deserves government assistance. There are many people who do. Disabled veterans — ones who are disabled to the point that they really can’t work — are high on the list. And as someone who’s getting close to retirement, I can tell you that I’m looking forward to getting some of that money back that has been taken from every paycheck from every job that I’ve ever had. But there’s something wrong about taking money just because you can, and a lot of people don’t seem to recognize this.
When governments first started assistance programs, one of the problems they had was getting people to accept the assistance. People had been raised with enough pride that most of them were reluctant to accept a handout without doing something for it. Apparently that kind of thinking is now out the window, and having a real job is only for those losers who aren’t smart enough to get a seat on the gravy train.
Even people who have a job don’t seem to want to work at it. Yesterday morning, the FEMA office in New York was closed due to weather. That’s right, friends and neighbors: workers for the Federal Emergency Management Agency couldn’t be bothered to go to work and help people who don’t have electricity or running water or food after the recent hurricane because — well, because it snowed.
What happens when the emergency workers won’t work in an emergency? Volunteers have to pick up the slack. In New York City yesterday, some of them did. If they hadn’t stepped up, a lot of people wouldn’t have had anything to eat.
If you hate your job, you come from a long line of potential job-haters. In Genesis 3:19, Adam and Eve were told:
In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.”
In other words, God told them this: “If you don’t work, you don’t eat.”
I hope that you who are parents are teaching your children the value of work. Yes, it isn’t fun. Yes, it’s hard. Commuting to work is a pain in the neck, and when you get there you might have a boss who tells you to do things that he should be doing himself. You’re tired when you get home, but the next day you have to get up and go to work again. That’s called being an adult. In fact, one of the definitions I have heard for the word “adult” is having the maturity to regularly do things that you would rather not do.
People who do their fair share may not ever get a golden ticket, but they have the satisfaction of knowing they do their part to make the world run. All the golden tickets in the world can’t make up for the knowledge, even if it’s buried deep inside you, that the world is not necessarily a better place just because you’re in it.