That generous helping hand

What are we missing when it comes to understanding what one should reasonably expect from their government? Is it reasonable that we should expect decent roads to drive on, water that is safe to drink and utilities such as electricity and sanitary sewer systems to be readily available and safe to use?

Is it reasonable that we should expect to receive a check or EBT card, a voucher for food stamps, and a subsidy to help pay for our health insurance without having to do anything in return? Isn’t it reasonable to believe that those who receive payment from the government for doing nothing be required to do something? Tell me please, what am I missing?

The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office said last week that the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare, “provides a new opportunity for the lower-wage earners as well as those who might like to transition from full-time employment to part-time employment.” This “opportunity” comes about because the lower wage earner, or part-time worker will be eligible for a greater government subsidy to pay for their health insurance.

Great! Now, the very individual who has been working full-time to keep off of the government dole, can now decide to not work at all or to work less so they can take advantage of this newly created opportunity; just another opportunity that the taxpayer will be paying for. Once again, the government has created a new incentive to remain on government assistance.

My husband, Richard, tells of a man he once knew who decided that if the government could put a man on the moon, they could take care of him. The man quit his job and went on welfare; and the government did indeed take care of him. This is the same mentality that too many of those who are receiving government assistance through welfare, Medicaid, and Obamacare subsidies have developed.

Once again the government is not only encouraging those who choose not to work to stay home, but they are providing additional handouts to ensure that they do. We are truly becoming a country of handouts rather than hand-ups.

Now for those of you who will argue, “if there were jobs people would be working.” Well, I agree. We need the President and Congress to focus on job creation, such as approval of the Keystone Pipeline, SAFE Hydraulic fracturing, building bridges and roads, and bringing our national infrastructure into the 21st century. But I ask you, if we continue to promote freebies in the way of welfare, Medicaid, EBT cards and insurance subsidies for doing very little or nothing, where will we find the individual who views working for their income as an opportunity? Why work if one can get paid for staying home and doing nothing?

The current administration is touting the fact that the unemployment rate has fallen to below 7 percent, but according to the labor department that number is low because it doesn’t take into consideration the fact that many have left the labor market altogether. With this new opportunity, will there be more who choose not to work?

Welfare, Medicaid and even subsidies for Obamacare are sometimes needed and well-deserved by too many of our neighbors and fellow citizens, but there are also way too many who are just too eager to take the handouts and rock-and-roll all the way to the casinos, tobacco shops, and lottery counters; and we, the taxpayers, are paying for them. We need to promote self-reliance, not government-reliance. We need to make sure that those receiving these benefits are truly deserving and unable to work, however.

I know there are people who want to work, and who work for not a lot of money. Let me introduce you to Lisa. Lisa is a customer service agent at a local department store; she is delightful. I would bet that Lisa doesn’t make a whole lot of money and that she goes home from work exhausted.

I would further bet that if Lisa had the choice of working for her salary rather than sitting home collecting the freebies that the government continues to push, she would still choose to work. Her pride in her job, and herself, shows. We need more people like Lisa!

According to an article published in the New York Post, they found that the wage-equivalent value of benefits for a mother and two children ranged from a high of $60,590 in Hawaii to a low of $11,150 in Idaho. In 33 states and the District of Columbia, welfare pays more than an $8-an-hour job. In 12 states and DC, the welfare package is more generous than a $15-an-hour job. In New York state, the value of major welfare programs in pre-tax wage equivalent dollars in 2013 was $43,700. When people are being rewarded for not working, why should they?

Isn’t it time for welfare reform? Isn’t it time to insist that those who are receiving government assistance and/or subsidies be involved in some sort of meaningful work, even if it means working with the local cities, villages, and towns to help with trash pick-up, entering data into a computer, cleaning up the beaches, or heaven forbid, shoveling the sidewalks? Isn’t it time to move away from this socialistic society that we are too quickly becoming and go back to the time of fair pay for fair work?

Isn’t it time for more Lisas?

Have a great day.

Vicki Westling is a Dunkirk resident. Send comments to