The other day, someone asked, “when does a helping hand becomes a hand out?” This poses more questions. Should there be spending limits for short-term government projects? How long should these social programs be in effect? What about long-term entitlements and the move toward income redistribution? If our elected representatives don’t address these issues now, the American economy may soon be sunk.
Unemployment is over 9%, with 14 million people out of work, and the situation is not likely to show marked improvement in the near future. On top of this is the unknown numbers who are underemployed or have simply given up looking for a job. The extended unemployment benefits have or are running out for these folks.
Many of those who have been hit hard by the recession are uninsured, so this becomes a drain on the nation’s already over-stressed health care system. Those of us who are insured find our health insurance premiums are on the rise.
These people, and those who are working but are financially overextended, find themselves having to walk away from their homes or living in them without making mortgage payments. That means more houses are on the market at lower prices in order for the banks to recoup some of their losses. At the same time, it is difficult for people to qualify for financing. For current homeowners, this translates to reduced equity and less likelihood of being able to sell their property even at a bargain price.
Nobody can deny that many people are hurting. As Americans, we want to help the less fortunate, but there comes a time when trying to save a drowning person will result in our own demise as well. Why can’t those receiving unemployment benefits earn the money by engaging in state or municipal work? This would help communities and may encourage folks to worth harder at getting a job.
Consideration ought to be given to the food stamp issue, since more people use them than ever before. Welfare in general needs to be reformed. If a recipient has smart phones, video games and a flat screen should they qualify? And, if someone is going to check on what the money is buying, they might find out what kind of car is in the driveway. This is not a matter of the government poking its nose into private matters, rather those taking public money must be responsible for what they do with the dollars taxpayers are spending on their behalf.
Reducing waste, fraud and abuse will help if coupled with good stewardship by our elected representatives. However, the current financial crisis won’t be fixed until people are willing to let the government rework the two major entitlements: Social Security and Medicare. Until citizens accept the fact that these programs are not sustainable in their present form, the government will fall deeper in debt. It’s time to put aside party politics and unite to solve common problems that sooner or later will affect every American. Scaring us won’t fix things but caring will.