by Tucker Scofield
An acquaintance of mine had an opportunity this week to make as much as $25,000.00…she turned it down.
She is a property owner on the Gulf and she received a phone call from a friend regarding BP. They are settling damage claims with anyone who may have been affected by last summer’s oil spill and the caller, who knew others affected by the spill, was passing along the fact that the money was available and ripe for the picking.
There it was…free money. Was BP really going to audit every claim before paying it out of their $20 billion slush fund? Not in a million years. All she would’ve had to do was exaggerate the facts, maybe tell a little white lie or two and POOF, the Oil Fairy would grant a wish that could make the struggles of the past two years disappear. One small bit of paperwork and it would be dead presidents raining down from Heaven! Get that money, dollar-dollar bill, y’all! But she wouldn’t do it. For her, this was a matter of principle.
I asked why she turned it down. “It’s not right,” she said. She didn’t feel as though she’d been negatively affected by the spill at all, despite having received numerous phone calls from concerned renters regarding conditions on the beach. Her rental income was pretty much unchanged from the previous year and she felt as though filing a claim would have been fraudulent.
Not too many people could have turned down such a temptation. Right or wrong, money talks and everything else walks, at least for most. Obviously, our politicians are very aware of this and use their powers to pass various entitlement programs – “free money” – in return for votes. For the moment, put aside your opinions regarding the necessity of such programs and focus instead on this: A large percentage of our population now depends, to some degree, upon entitlement programs and the money to fund those programs is rapidly disappearing. The recipients of entitlement programs don’t want the free money to stop so they continue to vote for the whores – sorry, I meant to say politicians – who gave it to them in the first place. That is, of course, unless someone else promises them more free money.
Margaret Thatcher was right – eventually, you run out of other people’s money, and that is precisely the position in which we now find ourselves. So how do we escape this death spiral of ever-increasing entitlement programs?
Fiscal responsibility. Somebody – or more accurately, a group of somebodies – has to grab a clue, wake the hell up, and smell what the dog just plopped down...we are in trouble and our current path is unsustainable! Any other assessment is just pure and total nonsense. The electorate recognized this and made a statement, loud and clear, on November 2nd; fiscal responsibility is the mandate given the 112th Congress and I’m relieved to see them following through, at least for the moment.
In your personal household you have two options when faced with “deficit spending” (spending more than you make, as with running up your credit cards) and/or budget crunches (not having enough money to pay the bills): You either make radical adjustments to your lifestyle by curtailing most of your activities and watching every single penny, or you file bankruptcy. You cannot bring your budget under control by spending your way out of it, and borrowing only delays and exacerbates inevitable financial collapse.
Since filing bankruptcy is not a national option, our only recourse is to buckle down and make the hard choices necessary to save our country. That means cutting spending with a chain saw and ridding ourselves of many of these entitlements. It won’t be fun and it’ll make a lot of people mad but that’s just the way it needs to be.
Oh sure, there will be those who blame conservatives for being a bunch of racist bigots who believe that entitlement recipients are lazy and they just need to get a job. Whatever. I hate entitlement programs, I really do. And frankly, I can’t stand the bleeding hearts that continually whine in their support. But it may shock you as to why I hate them.
Entitlement programs, in my opinion, reduce human beings to little more than government pets. Like a dog eagerly snatching up whatever crumbs may fall from the table, recipients of entitlements surrender control over their own destiny and become subservient to the system established to “help” them. The acceptance of entitlements robs the individual of a chance at exceptionalism and turns them into slaves of the system. Think I’m being unreasonable?
Riddle me this, Batman: Cite me just one success story out of the millions of success stories this country has incubated since our inception in which a person has succeeded without countless trials and tribulations. I’ll wait. Thought of any? You won’t, either. It is the trials that tempered the individual’s desire to succeed; without the trials, there IS NO SUCCESS STORY.
Entitlements blunt the pain of trials; recipients accept mediocrity and are never forced to find the best in themselves. Right now, the ghettos, the housing projects, and the trailer parks are filled with potential Oprah Winfrey’s and Warren Buffetts who will instead remain John and Jane Does because they are receiving just enough to prevent them from channeling their exceptional potential. And that’s a damned shame.
Turn off the free money. Obviously it can’t be done overnight but create a deadline and then stick to it. Let people feel the pain, let them discover their own potential, let them recover their dignity. It’ll be good for the country but it’ll be better for the individual.
And that “acquaintance” who chose not to file the claim with BP? That was my wife. I’m proud of her.
Tucker Scofield’s writing is shaped by his extensive business travels in the manufacturing sector. He is also a musician, a daddy, and a husband. His articles appear weekly at www.TheDCPost.com.