After talking with Jesse a bit, I wanted to do a more philosophic followup to my last post.
For the record: My brother, Jesse, and most of my family have made it clear to me that they will NOT be voting for American citizens to have access to things like Medical and Unemployment, etc. And, for the record, I am not offended if anyone says this. In all truth and fairness, I probably won’t vote that way either.
I know this may seem hypocritical, seeing as I am currently benefitting from two government funded programs. It’s not as crazy as it may sound, however. I see a system that’s broken and could use repair/revamp. If we are going to offer these government programs, there need to be more built in safeguards to keep people from abusing the system. The possibility of losing government funds should never be an excuse not to work or move up in one’s job, for instance. I know of people who have turned down job opportunities because it would cause them to lose their government aid. Or because they’d be bumped up a tax bracket, charged more taxes, and end up with the same amount in the end anyways.
But the facts remain: our government currently offers these things, even if I don’t agree with them on a political level. In our family’s current situation, these programs are helpful (but not necessary). Even if the system does get fixed, as I’d see fit, I believe that people like us could still qualify, under certain conditions. I don’t believe that we are abusing the system– if Jesse was offered a raise that caused us not to qualify for any of these things, we wouldn’t turn it down. We just don’t even have that option at this juncture, unless I choose to work full time (something I am not willing to do, and NOT because I’m lazy 🙂 )
Long and short– my responsibility is to my family, not to some over-arching political ideal. I am going to do what’s best for my babies with the resources I am given. In our current situation, Jesse’s job doesn’t pay lots of money, and we’ve accepted that as a necessary sacrifice for him to do what he loves. How many people can say that they LOVE going to work every day? We decided that this was not a “selfish” move for him, but a beneficial move for our whole family. A happy, fulfilled career leads to an emotionally available father, in my opinion. I don’t think we were headed that direction with his mortgage job in Dallas, to be honest. I don’t want my kids to remember a dad who’s burnt out after a hard day– instead, I want them to see someone who walks through the door, bursting with “guess what!” and “let me tell you what we learned about courage and honesty today!” Those things mean more to me than any huge bonus, more than buying a vacation home, more than having hundreds of dollars in disposable income.
I think that Jesse needs to hear and remind himself of these things at times. I am happy that we made a career choice based on his calling and not on his paycheck. I would consider it a shame if he had to give this up for a 9-5 desk job, all because he “wasn’t providing enough” for us not to qualify for medical. If we didn’t have enough money to put a roof over our heads or put food on the table? That would be another story, as those things are essential to our well-being. Other things? I think that Americans are convinced we need a lot more than we think (for instance, every single person that I saw at the public health office last Friday had an expensive phone and drove a nice car. One older couple, dressed in designer golf gear, stormed out because they weren’t given a free tetanus shot through their Medicare, saying angrily, “We’re taking our business ELSEWHERE!” Um, kids, you have Medicare? And you’re at a public health center? It doesn’t get much free-er than this!).
I guess my current stance is this: there are many innocents in our society who will suffer greatly if we do not have government programs like these. I know that many Christians say things like “the church should be providing that, not the government”, and on an idealogical level, I agree. But when rubber meets the road, I think that lots of children will go hungry while the adults get their act together. I’m not ready to let my vote contribute to someone not being able to eat. So I am a fan of some programs.
But I also know that it’s a vicious cycle. Churches don’t step up because the government is there. And we all hate how much we’re getting taxed, so we feel that it’s only fair that the government “give back” a little.
Where do you stand on the issue? I am curious to hear what others think. I know that my perspective is limited to my own experience.