Geez, Louise! What in the world has happened to many Americans when it comes to accepting welfare and other forms of public assistance without batting an eyeball? Not so long ago, before the ascendency of welfare state hatched during the Great Society Programs of the 1960s, one would be embarrassed or hesitant to admit that you were on “the welfare.” Now, don’t get me wrong. There are times and circumstances where families might need public assistance, to get through some of life’ rough patches. But after the 1970s, the acculturation surrounding accepting welfare, or being on the dole, no longer carried the same stigma. A stigma that acted as an effective social control, or deterrent, where individuals and groups were more apt to take responsibility for themselves and their families.
Not long ago, I was in the check-out line of my local Wal-Mart and found myself behind a young woman with three small children. A confrontation ensued between her and the Wal-Mart associate concerning why she couldn’t use a portion of her public assistance allocation (i.e., her EBT card) to purchase cigarettes. After leaning on my shopping cart for about five minutes, I decided to use the adjacent self-check-out, while at the same time the conflict between the woman and the associate had moved to a whole new level, turning more than a few heads in the store. To the very end, as I left the store, the young welfare mother was still screaming that the store should take her public assistance. At the time of this incident I just shrugged and filed it away under similar incidents that have occurred in my neighborhood over the years; where questionable behavior among individuals, who felt entitled, has become the unfortunate norm. Where civil behavior, values, social mores and/or moral guidelines have all but eroded.
Of course, the political class on both side of the aisle have long ago weaponized poverty for their own purposes, creating generations of individuals, who have incubated a “wards of the state” mentality in themselves and their children. Unfortunately, newly arriving immigrants, both legal and illegal from such places as Latin America and Africa also replicate this behavior, which often leads to a culture of poverty and/or government dependency.
In the upcoming Presidential and Congressional Elections, Democrats, the Jedi Masters at leveraging the “food stamp generation” to get elected’’ will unfortunately keep their constituents in a permanent stasis of dependency. Meanwhile, many within the underclass will continue to accept the social-political heresy that racism, sexism, capitalism is at the root of their lack of social mobility. They have been skillfully social engineered over the past fifty years to mimic various manifestations of the income inequality doxology ; when the true problem is more in line with outcome inequality.
Thinking back fifty years ago, during my capricious adolescent years, my friends and I would often tease one another about seeing government cheese in one of our friends’ homes. Sometimes we would out the person (no matter whether it was true or not) about seeing their mama walking down the street with a block of government cheese under her arm. Now this was obviously cruel, and the sense of guilt and shame we were trying to elicit was farcical or misplaced at best. But the fact, that we still had a sense of embarrassment over this (plus many other social ills, that are common place today) spoke volumes about our enculturation. We had a sense of moral limits, social guardrails, if you will. We still operated with an internal spiritual or social catechesis. A sense of guilt, shame and yes “stigma” that was more helpful in sustaining the civility and social cohesion of the neighborhood, than the anomie that now exists.