Just People Helping People?

This week the airwaves were once again abuzz with a soundbite from some campaign supporter screaming why you should support their candidate. The reason? Free stuff.

I’m not insinuating condemnation for any candidate or person. Because no matter what side of the aisle your on or whom one supports. It breaks down the same just for rich as for the poor. Who’s going to give me more stuff? It’s that mind-set that has us all in trouble. Just too many of us don’t see a tax break, or a deduction, or the myriad of other scenarios in the same light.

We’ve moved (or moving) away from a very important uniquely American mind-set. American’s have never been opposed to paying levies to support infrastructure as to better the lives of everyone here. This includes from social programs; to sewers and space exploration. It’s the why, when, and how that’s gone awry in my view.

Discussions and debate with open reasoning have been replaced with nothing more than both a verbal and at times a physical resemblance to tactics of WWI’s trench warfare. Both sides digging in deeper with Generals claiming victory for not losing any ground. All the while everyone suffers from the people in the trenches, to the families they leave behind; to the crushing of the infrastructure they both say they’re fighting to protect. As now as it was then – it’s maddening.

During a discussion the other day I was trying to explain this dilemma facing all of us. As usual, I just couldn’t get the point across. They were too interested in standing their ground before hearing me out. So I used a scenario I wrote years ago to help make my point. I offer it here…

(Insert any name here) decided to call their Government because they noticed that if others were getting a (handout, bailout, free stuff, you decide) why shouldn’t they ask and get something also? If everyone else is getting something why not them? After all it’s free so why not?

The phone was answered by a very monotone voice and asked what was needed. Once they were told the voice stated: “We need to check for funding please hold.” As they waited online they suddenly heard a vehicle screech to a halt at their neighbor’s home.

They stood shocked as they watched a number of government officials forcing their way into their neighbor’s home then leaving with what appeared to be money. The monotone voice came back on the line and stated: “Funding for the request had been appropriated.”

The caller now stunned asked if they just took the money from their neighbor? The voice replied: “Of course. The government doesn’t really have money of its own. It all comes from other tax payers such as your neighbors. Don’t worry you’re not the first to ask. We get this question a lot nowadays. But relax, your request has been appropriated and approved.”

Feeling uncomfortable with what happened they asked if their neighbor would know? The voice replied: “That’s very unlikely. However if you’re uncomfortable with us appropriating your funding with someone so close, we could get the final funding elsewhere from someone in another region of the country.”

Still nervous yet feeling better as they wouldn’t know the person directly the caller said: “Oh yes please. That would be better.”  The voice said fine and hung up the phone.

Some time had passed and the incident near forgotten when suddenly they heard a screech of tires outside their garage. It appeared the same people they seen go into their neighbor’s home were now forcing their way into this former callers garage.

When they demanded to be told what they were doing. They were informed they had come for one of their cars while stating this should be of little consequence for them since they had two. Someone somewhere had none and needed the other.

But this former caller yelled: “I just bought that!”

Undeterred the government officials confiscated the car and informed them they should be thankful they were able to help out someone because the car was going to a good cause of supplying free vehicles to the needy.

As this former caller stood slack-jawed the official decided to tell them of another program being offered so that they may prepare and not be caught off guard if they returned. He stated in a rather monotone voice…

“They’re thinking of introducing another program since so many people are requesting free items there must truly be a need. So they should also be prepared to cover the repairs, gas, or other expenses of this vehicle if needed. After all, they would not have bought a second car if they couldn’t afford all the added expenses. And they should consider themselves a winner of life’s lottery. Only people who are in need would request something for free from the government. So be thankful you could afford two let alone one. Remember – were here to help you.”

The former caller just hung their head only to now realize a few of life’s truths.

Nothing is for free – and what comes around, really does go around.

© 2012 Mark St.Cyr