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Who is Responsible to Provide Basic Needs of Americans?

There are some people who believe that the government is responsible to provide basic needs of Americans.  Others believe that each individual is responsible for providing basic needs for themselves and their own family.  Which are you?

Who Provides Basic Needs

Don’t know about you, but I am responsible to provide for myself and my family

To Provide Light not Heat

Let me say up front that the intent of all my posts are to bring light, not heat.  By that I mean I want to share information not inflame emotion.  I know that many people are emotionally charged by the topic of government assistance.  It is a hotly debated political topic that divides our government along party lines.

The topic of government handouts is a sensitive one because no one wants to see suffering, and various political groups see solutions differently.  I am not taking any side about whether we should or should not provide for the less fortunate.  My hope is for you to find a better solution for yourself than being dependent on anyone else.  Your freedom is what I am writing about here.  I believe that you will have greater freedom if you shoulder the responsibility for providing for yourself and your own family.

If you feel like you are dependent on someone else or the government to help you make ends meet, I know how you feel.  I felt the same way.  There was a period of my life where I was dependent on government assistance to feed my kids.

How I Ended up on Government Assistance

Having been on the receiving end of government assistance in the form of WIC, I can assure you that being free from that lifestyle is a blessing.  I much prefer being able to provide for my own family.  There is no satisfaction in receiving handouts.  WIC is state assistance to help cover the cost of foods, health care referrals, and nutrition education for low-income pregnant, breastfeeding, and non-breastfeeding postpartum women, and to infants and children up to age five who are found to be at nutritional risk.  For more facts on WIC, see the USDA site The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)

So, how did I end up getting government assistance and how did I get off it?

When I moved from Panama to Virginia, I bought a new car, a new home, had my second daughter and started full time college all within one year.  That is a lot of financial responsibility increase for anyone.  In Panama, I lived in military housing and drove an old, paid-off car.  I had money in the bank.  Expenses were relatively low both on the economy in Panama and on the Bases.  The job involved lots of travel that brought in extra money.  I was taking a full time college load in Panama, but was getting 75% Tuition Assistance to cover most of the cost.

The Snow Ball Effect

The snow ball effect of my changing career during that first year after moving to Virginia started with the need for a car upon returning to the states.  Since I could not bring the old BMW from Panama due to emissions controls, I needed a new car.  I had saved and put down a reasonable down payment and took on payments that were within reason.

Upon arrival in Va, I started house hunting for my first house.  The bank loaned me enough money through a VA ensured loan that I could afford with no money down.  Shortly thereafter, my daughter was born and I was accepted into a commissioning program where I would attend college full time and get commissioned as an Ensign upon graduation.  This was not a scholarship deal and the 75% tuition assistance was no longer available.  Veterans benefits in the form of Veterans Education Assistance Program (VEAP) provided some funds, but anyone who served during that era can tell you that it was one of the worst education benefits programs ever.

If your Outgo Exceeds your Income, Your Upkeep will be your Downfall

So from the time I started school until I graduated and received a commission, I was going backwards financially every month.  For a while, I worked a 2nd job delivering pizzas and my wife worked housekeeping for a local hotel.  We also ran a multi-level marketing business from our home.  There was just no way to keep up with expenses during that period.  Fortunately for me, there was a defined end point to the process that many people do not have.

I love this quote attributed to Henry Ford:

“Any man who thinks he can be happy and prosperous by letting the government take care of him better take a closer look at the American Indian.” ― Henry Ford Click To Tweet

“Any man who thinks he can be happy and prosperous by letting the government take care of him better take a closer look at the American Indian.” ― Henry Ford

How I recovered, Got off Government Assistance and Provided for My Own Family

Not only did I get off government assistance, I was able to get completely free from debt just a few years later.

The basics of digging out of a financial hole are to increase income and or decrease expenses.  That is exactly what I did.  The huge expenses of college, mortgage and auto loan were eliminated and a promotion at work increased my pay significantly.

How I recovered and Got off Government Assistance

How I went from nearly $100,000 in debt to Debt Free

Upon graduation from college, I was commissioned as an Ensign in the Navy.  That brought a raise of about $500 per month.  That helped add in a lot of breathing room.  Any time you can increase your income by a few hundred dollars is a blessing.

Graduating college also meant that the expenses of tuition, fees and books ceased.  The Student loans stopped growing!

Increase Income and Decreased Expenses

At that point, I was still living in the same house and attended Naval Intelligence Officer training in Virginia Beach for another year.  Once that was complete, I was able to move out of the house I had bought and put it up for sale.  When we transferred to Cecil Field in Jacksonville FL, we moved into a great on-base community.  This change reduced housing expenses to almost nothing.  That gave the budget a BIG relief.  Being assigned to a deploying Hornet Squadron meant going on a deployment which brings in a little more cash and reduces the expenses such as feeding me.  Financially, things were really starting to look up.  The consumer debt that had been growing daily in Virginia was now starting to shrink.  Midway through that tour, I pinned on Lieutenant Junior Grade (LTJG) with another healthy pay raise.

Following the two year assignment to Florida, we got orders to one of the best location I have had the pleasure to serve at – Hawaii!  Not only was it the most beautiful place on earth, I also got completely out of debt during that assignment!  The car and student loans were completely wiped out within four years of graduating.  I continued driving that car until the odometer read 200,000 miles then gave it away.  Near the completion of that tour, I got another promotion to Lieutenant (LT).

So that is the short story of how I went from nearly $100,000 in debt to debt free with money in the bank.  Being free from the dependence on assistance from anyone else if very liberating.

Factors that Lock People into Dependence

Why is it so hard to get off assistance?  There are a number of Americans that hold the belief that we should be able to rely on the government to provide housing and food to those that are not able to provide those things for themselves.  This belief puts an incentive to a certain segment of society to not develop the capability to provide for themselves.  Four factors contributing to this limiting belief include being:

1. Addicted

Being dependent on government handouts is very hard dependency to break out of.  In fact, being dependent on anyone or anything can be very hard to break free from.  Tony Robbins teaches that you become addicted to something if it satisfies three of your basic human needs.  Those who become addicted to hand-outs will find it hard to begin providing for themselves.

You find this phenomenon not only among the poor who are getting government handouts, but also on the other end of the spectrum where children of rich parents find it difficult to get out into the world and fend for themselves.

2. Demoralized

During a political campaign a few years back, Dr. Annette Bosworth posted an image to her campaign Facebook page pointing out the irony between the National Park Service’s policy of discouraging feeding wild animals to the food stamp program.  Many of the opposing view missed the irony and focused their comments on the comparison of food stamp recipients to animals.

“The food stamp program is administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture,” text on the image reads. “They proudly report that they distribute free meals and food stamps to over 46 million people on an annual basis.”

“Meanwhile, the National Park Service, run by the U.S. Department of the Interior, asks us, ‘Please do not feed the animals,’” the text continues. “Their stated reason for this being that… ‘The animals will grow dependent on the handouts, and then they will never learn to take care of themselves.”

That basic principle applies to humans as well as animals.  However, for people it is not a matter of not learning to take care of themselves, but rather becoming demoralized and discouraged from taking care of themselves.  People will not develop the drive to provide for themselves if the government is going to provide for their basic needs.  Some will find a way to provide for their wants, while letting the government continue to provide for their basic needs.

3. Unprepared

Many who find themselves in need of assistance got there by not ever being taught about how finances work.  Way too many Americans have become financially illiterate.  There is more information available to the masses now than ever, but we just don’t consume it.

One of the objectives of the Paladin 4 Prosperity blog is to help reverse the trend of Americans becoming financially illiterate.

4. Under-exposed to the freedom on the other side

Besides not be educated on financial principles, many have grown up in communities where there are no wealthy people.  Wealthy people are labeled and assigned negative stereotypes.  Characteristics like stingy, arrogant, dishonest, gaining to the detriment of others and many other incorrect assumptions are pinned on them.  A fantastic book to help understand truly wealthy people is The Millionaire Next Door.  Don’t confuse celebrity lifestyle with true wealth.

Two Systems – Capitalism and Socialism

What would happen if everyone decided to go the government assistance route?  That would lead to a clearly unsustainable state and the system would collapse.

Fortunately, there are a good number of people that see the responsibility to provide for themselves and their family as a personal responsibility.  These people will endure great hardship in order to provide for their family.  Capitalism is founded on the premise that all Americans are better off if each shoulders the responsibility to provide for themselves.  Socialism counts on the reliance on the government.

Providing for one’s own family is a fundamental principle of capitalism.  One of the six human needs is the need to feel like you are making a contribution.  By focusing our energies on satisfying the needs of others, we diminish the desire for attention to be put on our own needs.

As more and more people in the community grow their wealth and have an abundance to share with the community, the inherent desire to contribute will drive the community towards a higher standard of living.  Conversely, when community members are drawing from the whole, the community is driven towards a lower standard of living.

Forcing those who have produced wealth to sustain the basic needs of people in their community develops a perception that being a non-producer and a taker results in a bigger win.  When members of the community are at the tipping point of deciding whether to be a producer or non-producer of wealth the influence of the community will weigh on that decision.  It is therefore important to provide a positive influence for those who are coming of age and making the decision between entering the workforce or depending on the welfare state to supply their needs.

Next Steps

Whether you are dependent on the government or on your parents, it is time to plot a course for self-determination and self-reliance.  Set goals and learn what it will take to reach a level of income that will satisfy your needs.  Control your spending by prioritizing your spending on necessities so you will not need the assistance.  Find inspiration from successful people.

There comes a point in your life where you have to make a decision whether to dig in and work hard or let others provide for you. Making the leap to providing for yourself and you family can be a big challenge.  It might seem unattainable, but once you make the leap, the rewards are so worth the effort.  It’s not feasible to be able to provide for a family while earning minimum wage.  Even if the minimum wage is raised in your state, it will still not be enough to support a family.  If this is your situation, I hope you can get inspiration from my post 5 Better Solutions Than A More Competitive Minimum Wage.

Do you desire to have a truly independent life and pursue the best that this country has to offer?  Then make a decision for yourself that you will dig deep and commit yourself to providing for yourself.  Seek resources that will enable you to earn your own way and be self-reliant.  The earlier in life you decide to rely on yourself, the more options you will have to choose between.

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