Self-reliance

My recent article Government Assistance Sucks was meant to make people think. I honestly believe a nation that values self-reliance is a nation where everyone prospers. The article’s thesis – though true – offended some. It struck home to others.

I love encouraging entrepreneurialism, so I make it a habit to never pass up a lemonade stand.

Government assistance drains them of their dignity, robs them of their self-worth, and traps them in dependency.

In other words, the conviction to get off it is shared by millions who are on it. Here’s a disturbing question that is largely unanswered: how do they get off?

It isn’t pride. I believe there is an insatiable hunger in every human being to be self-reliant, and by all means I want to encourage that. It isn’t cruel, either, to try to figure out a way to be free. Honestly, my heart goes out to families who struggle in this rotten economy. What is cruel is thinking it compassionate to cushion the dependency. Many of those caught up in the system know full well what a dead end it is. If they attempt to wean themselves off the flow of government funds, the government takes what is needed from them. I properly call it a trap, and either you cut yourself off cold-turkey or regrettably stay on the system.

There are over 100 million stories about this, and I bet (perhaps I hope?) that most want to get off it. It isn’t simple, but it is far from impossible.

So last week, I offered my help. I believe I have the track record and the experience. I’ve been self-employed since 2004 with a wavering income, so there have been countless times when I could have applied for aid. Add 16 children to the application, and I’d have funds rolling in like a bootlegger. I’ve refused the help because (I truly believe this) the help is really no help at all. My insistance to remain self-reliant has helped me, my children, and my businesses in the long run.

Someone took me up on my offer to help. She and her husband have been on food stamps for 16 years. We’ve exchanged a few emails, and I’ll share her story tomorrow. I’m pumped that she is taking her first steps toward self-reliance.

Question: What is your opinion about government assistance?

Post below. I very much would like to hear what you have to say.

Are you a debater? Join me in Colorado in July for the Training Minds Camp!

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • RickStevens

    I fully understand where some of the original intentions are in both the development and the acceptance of government assistance. While some may believe that the intent of government has always been to intrude on our lives, I tend to look for the good in people (yes, even those in government who think they know better than I do how to run my life, my family and my business). Who doesn’t want to help someone that is struggling? However, we cannot simply measure something based on it’s intent. The old saying, “The road to Hell is paved with good intentions” continues to ring true. We must measure based on the results (or consequences) both intended and unintended. That is where my view of government assistance takes shape. What I believe to be an originally unintended negative outcome (but as a conspiracy theorist, I’m not so sure it’s an unintended now as it had been) of government depenedency outweighs everything that could be a positive outcome. When we look to the government to provide for us, we are ultimately turning our back on the Great Provider and making government our God. We are telling our Creator, “I don’t trust that You will take care of me. I don’t trust how You have created/gifte me. I am afraid that You will abandon my family if I step out of my comfort zone.” I have a framed picture hanging in my office that says “Never let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game.” In my world, government assistance is that “fear”. It’s the security net that we can come to depend on rather than placing our dependence on God. I will never think less of someone who is in need of help – I’ve been there more than once. However, when we look to God as the provider of that assistance, He is in the business of building up and freeing us from bondage. More and more, the government is in the business of creating dependence and placing us into bondage. Is it wrong to accept assistance? No. Is it difficult to remove those bonds once they have taken root? You bet.

    • Thanks for posting Rick. And your post reminded me…we’re having coffee in 20 minutes!!! (I may be a few mins late…see you soon.)

    • AndreaMaddiex

      RickStevens, “When we look to the government to provide for us, we are ultimately turning our back on the Great Provider and making government our God. We are telling our Creator, “I don’t trust that You will take care of me. I don’t trust how You have created/gifted me. I am afraid that You will abandon my family if I step out of my comfort zone.”
      This so hits home to how I see it. I know some won’t agree-but I believe it is true, there is a fear that the Lord won’t be there to catch you.

      • RickStevens

        Andrea – for 15 years I worked as an educator in both public and private schools (and at the high school and college levels). Twice my contract was not renewed. Both times I could have sought unemployment benefits, though neither time was it necessary as a stop-gap. The first time I was not renewed, I searched long and hard for another teaching position because I was afraid to do something else. This most recent time, I have completely left the education sector, though I am still using the gifts and talents that God has given me. Looking back now, I start to realize that He probably had this in His plan all along (considering all that transpired at my latest teaching job), but I didn’t trust Him enough the first time to step out on my own in the world of business (even though I taught students for 15 years to do just that). Now I’m there, I’m free, I’m self-reliant AND it’s the most fun I’ve had in a long time. I’m still using my gifts of shepherding and teaching, just in a different sector of the economy. God is good…all the time. I just have to learn to let go of my fears and live life with an open hand.

        • Andrea

          I have seen this many times in my own life. When I finally we finally let go of doubt He showed us the answer. And I do trust the Lord with all of my heart. Maybe it’s not so much doubt in the Lord but doubt about yourself. Maybe also part of this is because I was raised to believe I had to earn my salvation. Interesting where a discussion on government aid leads to. 🙂

        • Yvette Moreau

          Rick,
          You are not a hero for not applying for unemployment benefits, you are not wise, because it is your money. You paid that money into the system. Do you not use heath insurance if you need to see the doctor? Or do you only use it when you cannot afford to pay out of pocket.

  • Chris-
    While I agree with what your saying- I also want to say that we look at
    this as God’s provision for our family and He is our Savior….
    … Here is my story..
    My
    husband has been laid off a few times since 2006.. either due to the
    economy or his health. UE has been helpful when we are on it but it does
    not last…
    Food stamps….. something that we believe God has used
    to help feed our family along with like Pam.. also help from
    church/family and friends…
    Before going on this when my husband was
    laid off the 1st time… it was a struggle and we had 2 very godly
    people remind us that God provides in many ways for His people….
    And
    God is the one that meets every need that our family has… and I know
    that He chooses how for each individual and families….
    My husband
    is now in the middle of his 1st year of doing his own business because
    of his serious health issues. cannot work a full time job outside of the
    home any more…
    So can people become dependant on this.. sure…but
    thats not where we are at with getting assistance. On my side- things
    are not always what they seem in these situations….
    Each time we recertify it becomes more difficult.. and we know that if God chooses to stop it then He will use other means… We do not rely on the gov’t .. only on Him.
    But we truly believe He is using it to provide for us…

    Each time we are unsure of what He will do… but we are trusting Him at every turn

    And because someone is on assistance … do we know the story behind it??

    I am glad that your family has not needed this assistance…

    For my husband and I .. its a daily struggle …should we .. shouldn’t we…..
    Its not an easy thing….
    Please pray that my husband’s new business will flourish and that we will continue to seek Him in all that we do…

    God works in each family differently and only He knows what is necessary for each of us as He works in our lives….

    Thanks so much

    • AndreaMaddiex

      My heart and prayers are with you. I hear your struggle, I have said the same thing-that this was how God is providing. But, in my heart do I feel confident in that or does it just mean I feel too lost to try to find other answers. The very idea of even trying to find an alternative seems overwhelming. Many prayers for your family.

  • JDK

    The last thing I’d want to do is judge a needy family. I’d go on government assistance in a minute if my kids were in need.

  • Antoinette Bunce

    Chris,

    You sadly do not have a clue what is happening to too many of us out there! My husband makes good salary, of around $80,000.00 a year! We are a family of five, and three of us have a pre-existing neuromuscular disease, known as mitochondrial myopathy. We have a “good” private insurance, and my husband is deducted about $800.00 a month to pay for it. We also have a $15,000.00 family deductible! If you think this number is mistaken, please look again. FIFTEEN THOUSAND A YEAR! We have very high premiums, and copays for a specialist are 60.00 per visit. Our 8 year old daughter, is by far, more affected! This doesn’t even being to add up the things NOT COVERED by INSURANCE like elemental formula, that they somehow denied, after fighting it! Although it was medical necessity they REFUSED to pay. Meaning that her Vivonex Pediatric was costing us over 10,000.00 a YEAR to feed her. AGAIN YOU READ RIGHT! TEN THOUSAND DOLARS A YEAR. If you do the math that equals out to OVER 37,000.00 of “self reliance”; leaving my family of FIVE less than 40,000.00 to live on! Here we were a UPPER MIDDLE CLASS “PROUD” American family, and were “self reliant”….and were now choosing between feeding our family, paying for medical intervention, or paying the mortgage! We heard of the COLORADO Medicaid WAIVER, that WAIVES the income of those who “make too much money”, and after a two year waiting list, and a house having by a string, we were granted GOVERNMENT ASSISTANCE. It SAVED OUR HOUSE and paid for her expensive elemental formula, and her medical, which without she would be DEAD now. My son and I are still on private insurance! Neither of us receive government assistance yet. So this means we still have to pay that HIGH DEDUCTIBLE and all the out of pocket expense. But at least our daughter has found a solution, THANKS to our government realizing that this medical insurance system is very flawed! I could say more, but I think you now realize that you might need to put your foot in your mouth, WAKE UP, and realize that there are MANY of us that depend on government assistance for our very LIVES. I would now like an apology, I think all of us would. Government assistance is not just for the dead beats of the country!!!!

    • DavidS

      The funds that the government uses for any program comes by taxing Americans. If any of those who are taxed for such a program don’t agree with its usage, doesn’t it seem like the money is theft related and dirty?

    • JDK

      Exactly. Chris–with 16 healthy children–is deciding for everyone what is OK and what is not. Of course, he has no idea what it is like to have a chronically ill child. If his child’s life was at stake (as yours is) would he still choose to pass on government assistance? I hope not. I applaud you for making the right choice.

      It is very easy to make blanket statements about government assistance when we don’t have sick children who need help.

    • Thanks for posting, Antoinette. I appreciate your input.

      • JDK

        Do you have a reply for Antoinette. What would you do if your child would die, as hers would, if you didn’t accept public assistance?

        Do you begrudge tax money that is spent for such a reasons?

      • Yvette Moreau

        It sucks that you appreciate her input but do not in any way validate her point. How about offering to pray for her suffering family. No clue

  • DavidS

    For discussion:
    What about “government assistance” for companies or corporations? Do government subsidies, bailouts or preferential treatment for a given corporation produce the same negative behavior as it would for families and individuals?

    • I’d say, yes. Off the top of my head: oil subsidies. In Alaska, it has actually encouraged oil companies from drilling.

    • RickStevens

      In a truly free market economy, government assistance would not exist and companies would either have to figure out how to become efficient or shut down. The concept of “too big to fail” should never have entered the federal government’s vocabulary. Too many market manipulations happen through subsidy programs (corn prices come to mind) and when the government becomes a big “safety net” for companies, there is very little motive to improve products/facilities/methods/services. Ultimately it becomes less about government “assistance” and more about government “enabling”.

  • Joe

    “I’ve refused the help because (I truly believe this) the help is really no help at all.”

    Really? Help that keeps a child alive is “no help at all”? I suggest you ask that child and her parents.

  • RickStevens

    I think many of the folks are missing the point of the post. Receiving assistance is NOT fundamentally bad. What the point being made here is the sense of dependency that can be created by constant “assistance” from the government. Unemployment benefits are part of an insurance plan that is paid through your taxes. The extension of these benefits through what can be up to 99 weeks is where the sense of dependency (and the manipulation of the system) comes into place. Initial use of assistance programs can help to “fill the gap” between what is available through personal provision and what is needed. There are no judgements being made in the post, just questions being raised about the spiral of dependency that CAN come out of using government assistance programs. On more than one occasion, I have talked with people (from acquaintences to family members) who brutalize the system and/or become dependent upon it. Ultimately, it’s about how you view the use of the assistance. Is this assistance a stop-gap between what we need and what we have available right now, or is the assistance the “savior” for the situation. If your attitude is that it is a stop-gap measure, then you will return to self-reliance. If you believe it is the “savior” then you will find an increasingly dependent user of the system.

    • AndreaMaddiex

      Nail on the head, thank you.

    • Andrea

      Nail on the head, thank you.