Friday, May 23, 2008

Stampin' mad: Still Stampin'

Opinions concerning food stamps/Medicaid/WIC exceed those of piercing the ears of babies and the joy of Xboxing as expressed by Capt. Von Trapp. Who knew? The post also registered the best name-calling comment ever: I'm a Cyber Commoron. Well played. Even Hyrum Steed can’t top that. (Natalie, you could use that as the link for my blog!)
In the midst of writing the previous post it was apparent a follow up post would be needed; Paula emphasized this as the comments piled up, concerned about the brash approach and potential ramifications amongst friends and associates. The comments (if you haven’t read them all, I highly encourage you to) were insightful and branched out from food stamps, engendering questions – which comments, by the way, are much appreciated – regarding other forms of government welfare.
Ames Family and Anonymous: no worries about arguing. I see nothing wrong with an honest one. Today’s world treats the expression of a firm opinion or argument as taboo because it might offend; hence, many important topics aren’t discussed at depth and we sojourn on in shallow, meaningless drivel. Dissenting (sincere) comments are more than welcome. Just another reason I’ll always allow anonymous comments, never go private or delete a comment (unless it’s crude, vulgar, or damages my ego).

Now, on with the show.
The use of Medicaid and WIC (Women, Infants, Children) usage when young and in school was mentioned several times. I’ll give my opinion on each separately, starting with Medicaid/Medicare.
Health insurance provided by universities are generally expensive and what is covered still puts a lot back on the individual; in case of emergency you could be staring at a $10k-plus bill. Those types of bills are no fun when it’s for something you plan on, much less when it’s unexpected.
That being said, my thoughts about Medicaid are the same as food stamps. My reasoning for placing the two together is because they are built upon the same premise –it is acceptable for Party C to take (forcefully) from Party A and distribute to Party B as C feels appropriate. The fundamental approach of the system is a corrupt (meaning “to alter from the original or correct form or version”) form of welfare or charity and my its very nature encourages abuse.

An indulgent personal experience.
Shortly before being married I had an emergency appendectomy. I had no insurance, was recent college grad and had been working for about 3 months (I was a contract employee and expensive health care was my only option, which I opted out of); much to my chagrin, the hospital bill and associated fees were in excess of $22,000. I didn’t qualify for government aid because I had a job, which I thought ironic since every paycheck had money taken from me for Medicare/Medicaid. Many stressful days, letters, phone calls and negotiations later I ended up with bills totaling just under $5k.

I had the best intentions to stay debt free – never had one once of debt up to that point and not because of mommy and daddy’s pocketbook – but a service was rendered in which my life was saved. What right did I have to expect someone else to foot this bill? Or to have the doctors and nurses to eat it just because I wasn’t planning on it? Nope. I’m not entitled to that just because I exist and happen to be honest. So it was necessary to do some footwork and work the bill down and then pay it.

Serious introspection would show misplaced priorities. Some people are willing to take on debt for furniture; many will take on the beast when purchasing a vehicle; I know of no one who paid (their own) cash for their first home. None of these things are essential to our survival. So why is our expectation to have the government prevent us from debt when our lives are preserved with surgery or medical intervention or when a beautiful child comes into this world? Should we only go into debt for what we want, not what we need? Such expectations are naive and indulgent.

Regarding WIC…toss it in with the other two. Or place it gently with them. Either way that is where it belongs, for the premise upon which means are provided is corrupt and encourages abuse. Instead of going to and expecting our government to fund the bill, how about family? Parents, brothers and sisters. If there is not sufficient in these resources, what about the church? Having served as the Executive Secretary in our last ward, I know first hand that food orders and assistance is provided. Generously provided.
While serving in this position, there were many who asked for help when they were spending money on cable TV, movies, eating out, clothing from places other than Goodwill or DI, pet food, etc…and were hesitant to give up these things to make ends meet. It’s would be like me refusing to give up my Xbox Live membership while there are bills I can’t pay. It’s self-centered and arrogant.
I’ll have to disagree with Zach’s (tongue-in-cheek) comment – the Constitution makes no provision for keeping up with the Jones’s. Nor should it. When entitlement of comfortable living becomes our norm, stripped away is choice and accountability, replace with the chain of bondage to our provider. Sounds like the plan of someone a long, long time ago. And we know how that ended. There’s only one Provider I want to be indebted to for my existence.

And there your have it: my opinions regarding government assistance.
Let it be clear I have no problem with charity or welfare when administered correctly. Careful reading of both posts will reveal no opposition of giving/getting help. Never. I get significant tax breaks with of the percentage of my income that goes to charity. I’m not bragging or trying to be self-righteous. It just needs to be clear I give and give without compulsion.
What makes me Stampin’ Mad is the pseudo-charity created by compulsory means – forcing A to give to C, who then decides how it will be used for B. True, honest, sincere welfare is created by individuals who want and are willing to give, not forced to. In this way both the giver and receiver are blessed temporally and spiritually. And this charity does exist. (Some examples.)

Here’s the real question:
Why turn to government for assistance? Why turn to a source that cares and knows nothing about you instead of turning to those with our best interests at heart and love us? Probably because government is faceless; the government won’t see us sitting outside the bishop’s office and leaving with a food order; because we don’t have to face the government at family events.
Speaking personally, it requires a lot of humility to approach those who know me best and love me with my hand out for help, admitting that I’m not making it my own. Something faceless and removed is easier because there is no connection, no bond. But maybe that’s just me.

Anyway, if this gets any longer no one will read it.
In summation, those commenting who have used Medicaid or WIC, I don’t think you’re manipulative or lazy. I wanna make that clear. If you were, I think there’d of been CURSING IN ALL CAPS in your comments.
My hope is everyone will reexamine where we go for help and what the cost is. When we go to those who give willingly, the only thing we surrender is our pride and vanity; when we go to that which gives through force, we lose our freedom and our agency. Is it even possible a system that forcefully takes from one to redistribute to another can be good and moral? Hopefully, if situations arise in the future where help is needed, this corrupt system will not be the source we turn to.


Anonymous said...

I read your blog every once in awhile, and when I came across these last two posts, I had to share my opinion. First, I will give you a brief overview of my circumstances. When my husband and I were first married, I was not a citizen, or a resident of the United States. I had an excellent job in the country where I had been living, but when we got married, I moved to the United States and I could not work, not until I got my residency. I started that ASAP, and I did get it 5 months later. But in the mean time, I got pregnant. My husband was going to school full time, and working, but I was not, and we just did not make the money to pay for groceries. I am serious here, there were a few months when we honestly were living off of WIC, no kidding, we had nothing, but milk, cheese, peanut butter, tuna, carrots, cereal...and then a few of the basics, like break, flour, and that dang lemonade from Wal-mart, which was the ONLY thing I didnt throw up. Once I was a resident, I did get a job, but then had a had to make a choice. We felt that even though I had a good education, the job that I was qualified for would not make enough income for me to work, and pay for child care...and THEN take home money, we would break about even. SO, it was decided that I would stay home. My husband graduated, and got a job. Well, I think it is a great job, but unfortunately, teachers in this country to not get paid NEAR enough. (that is a totally different issue), but it is what he LOVES to do, and he works really really hard at it. We make enough money to make ends meet, but WIC has been a huge blessing to us. I help out where I can, do small jobs here and there, took on a part time job that I can take my kids with me (yes, we have two now), but we still didnt make enough to not qualify for WIC, until just recently. We are not on it anymore, but it was a huge blessing to us. My opinion, if you are a hard working, tax paying, non selfish individual who has been dealt bad luck, you need help. I can not tell you the embarrassment that I felt every time I went to the grocery store with those dang WIC checks. I HATED it. I longed for the day that I was not on it. BUT, I agree with you 100%. If you are not working your butt off, trying everything you can, then I dont think you have a right to get this help. The system is abused, there is no doubt in my mind. I have seen the way people are in those clinics, rude and arrogant...that is not the way it should be. Not everyone there is like that, but a lot are, and it made me sick. We need to be grateful, and accept what we get, not fight over it. Ok, I am done, I am on the verge of rambling, or maybe I already am. But thank you for your opinion, it was taken well...

Emily Asay said...

I have to admit, when I read your first post about the food stamps, I was pretty "taken back" and offended at the thought of being categorized as "leaching, lazy and dishonest" since I have benefited from government assistance. I did some research ( and found the following: “The responsibility for each member’s spiritual, social, emotional, physical, or economic well-being rests first, upon himself, second, upon his family, and third, upon the Church. Members of the Church are commanded by the Lord to be self-reliant and independent to the extent of their ability. (See D&C 78:13–14.) Nowhere in there does it say government assistance. I have to admit while my opinion of government assistance has DEFINITELY been enlightened, I'm still a little confused. Some people have tried to reassure me that government programs are meant to benefit people such as myself that can't afford health insurance. We wouldn't have been able to afford Stetson (our son) w/out such assistance from the goverenment BUT I am largely insterested in doing "footwork" to minimize hospital bills. I don't know where to start though, and if its even feasible. Any more adivice on minimizing hospital bills?

Anonymous said...

I love that we live in a country that will tax you heavily, but then qualify you for WIC/ Food Stamps/ Welfare. How about a tax break for the hard working people so they can make ends meet w/out needing help. Let 'em bring home their whole paycheck and decide where their own money should be used to take care of themselves. Can I just say FAIR TAX really is the answer. Then everyone (illegals and tax evaders alike) pays taxes. And, you choose how/when/where you will pay taxes when you make money spending choices. Look into it....we should all be supporting the fair tax.

Cardinals Fan in Denver said...

Well are you Mr. Controversy:) I do appreciate your candor and thoughtfulness put into these blog posts. I still stand by my point that if Kim and I were married in college and we had qualified for WIC/Medicaid because of having a child, we probably would have used it. We have been blessed with great jobs along the way and have not had to use any government assistance. I still agree that the system is abused by many, people I can remember from my mission, even people in Rexburg who used the assistance to help pay for other things other than what it was meant to be used for. To those folks, I say, you are the reason why the system needs to be mended. WIC, Medicaid and other gov't assistance has its place and it provides relief for those who are in desperate times despite their best efforts.

Now if you can just Shantay to see the benefits of being a full time Republican, you're efforts will not have been lost.

Loren, Nina and Ethan Mortensen said...

Emily, That is definitely something to think about. I know personally, I am hesitant to turn to the church for help if I need it. I have seen it abused far too often. The same, if not worse, happens with the government systems though. Food for thought for sure.

Logan, I think those who are critical of you don't understand what you are saying. Except for a few minor details, I totally agree with what you are saying.

jsmbbaker said...

Wow, Logan, this sure has made us all think and also feel the need to share our views! I think that those who abuse the system make it a horrible place for those who are in real need of assistance. When Jaran and I were first married, we looked into getting insurance, and actually signed up for one. Unfortunately, I got pregnant a few weeks before that, obviously didn't know at the time, and we weren't able to use the insurance, so we applied and got accepted for medicaid. We both worked jobs, neither of which offered healthcare. Jaran owned a third of a business with a brother and brother-in-law doing home construction and they couldn't afford health insurance, and I worked for an office that didn't offer it at all. I'm so thankful that we were able to get help in this situation or we'd be in big trouble, even now, four years later. I do agree that a lot of people take advantage of these programs and shouldn't be allowed to use them. Not unless they make a real effort to help themselves first. But for those people who do all they can, and still can't make ends meet, they pay taxes just like everyone else, why not get the help they truly need!

Ms. Roberts said...

Well, my arrogant and condescending older brother, good work. Way to make the world think. Including me.

William said...

A couple of comments:
1. I gratefully head to work five out of seven days a week, pay my taxes, tithe, and have a wonderful wife and two boys.
2. Our monthly food budget is $360.00 a month.
3. I went to a high school in the New Orleans projects, and noticed how most people dressed better then me, had “Air Jordans” (when they were still cool), and hid their cars every Wednesday when the social workers showed up for evaluations.
4. Some people need a hand up, and it is society’s obligation to offer assistance to those who truly need it. Note, I said society, not government. This is an act of generosity and kindness as we help our fellow man regain dignity through a difficult time.
5. Some people feel they deserve your money simply for making babies, and breathing air. They have lived in the same government assisted housing that their previous generations have lived in, and rely on the government for food, clothing, medical care and shelter. This is an act of thievery, and enablement as we are forced to give to those who don’t need or deserve it. It is like giving a drunk and drink.
6. Our government has corrupted the concept of sharing and generosity and has produced a population of needy, dependent, thieves who bite the very hand that is forced to feed them.
Bonus Comments:
1. We have been created by God who is a great giver.
2. We have been created in the image of God who is the great provider.
3. We have been created to be joyful givers and to love those around us.