A daily dose of responsibility

We didn't know we were poor.
By John Pierre | Nov 15, 2012
John Pierre and his older brother, Dan, when they lived in a tent.

Now that the election is over, what can we expect from the politicians comfortably ensconced in D.C.?

It's so tempting for someone my age to look back and yearn for life akin to what I experienced as a boy when honesty was the order of the day... even from politicians.

We were poor but so was almost everyone else.  We didn't know we were poor.

Our parents did and our older siblings did but we, the younger ones of eight kids, were blissfully going through life simply searching for more mischief into which we could become involved.

About the only kids who came to school in decent clothes were the sons and daughters of dairy farmers or a few others of "industries" that seem to survive all of the economic doldrums.  Saloon owner's and moonshiner's kids seemed to fare reasonably well.

We took our lunch to school in brown paper bags.  We didn't have money to buy a hot school lunch even though the cost was negligible.  There were no government programs to provide free lunches... much less breakfasts and lunches available as they are today even on weekends and during summer vacation.

But... we managed.  When the family had a few extra nickels and dimes we were treated to a school lunch.  My favorite was macaroni and cheese with a crust on top.

Charity was evident everywhere but not like the often-abused "welfare" and "food stamps" of today.  When some families were hurting, others would offer assistance, usually anonymously.  Americans are caring by nature and without the necessity of governmental mandates.

Our own family, during a particularly difficult time when our father couldn't work due to an injury, was provided bread and milk by a local benevolent doctor.

I can recall when we heard the very welcome question, "How would you kids like some bread and milk?"  With a tiny sprinkle of sugar on a slice of bread soaked in milk it was a special desert-like treat for us.

Nobody who was able held back from helping those who needed help... but, unlike today, nobody was required to assist those who preferred not to work.

It is evident that a percentage of those receiving food stamps today are buying beer and cigarettes with them... even if they have to make a discounted exchange with an unscrupulous merchant.

Government programs, while helpful to those in need, have a tendency to open the door to abuses by mooches.  In the past there were programs to distribute surpluses such as cheese and  other staples, during the depression of the '30s, but only to the needy.

Am I suggesting we go back to the old times?  No.  That was an extreme during a very difficult period.

The extreme of today is the government entitlement programs (for which many recipients know the rules better than the rule makers) and involvement in every aspect of our lives.

There must be a happy medium somewhere.  Maybe it's called personal responsibility.



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