When I hear of some new government program that’s made available courtesy of working, tax-paying citizens and businesses, I’m left stunned in a state of resentful disbelief. But our government — of the free and brave — provides benefits in the areas of career development, child care, counseling, disability, disaster relief, education and training, food and nutrition, energy assistance, scholarships and grants, health care, housing, insurance, living assistance, loans, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and tax assistance.
Well, that pretty much covers food, clothing, and shelter… wait a minute, no mention of clothing. Oh well.
Since I currently receive no welfare benefits because I work for a living and buy everything I need and then also pay taxes (like millions of other Americans), I wondered what governmental benefits I could receive anyway. So I took a little on-line quiz at govbenefits.com.
After answering questions about my age, profession, education, veteran status, disabilities, needs I have, etc., I discovered that I would be potentially eligible for 17 government programs! Most of these were for the opportunity to use my educational and professional background to do research in the biological sciences. But I also might qualify for some HUD (Housing and Urban Development) benefits. My favorites, though, were two exciting opportunities, the Prose and Poetry Fellowship and the National Ocean Service Intern Program. Maybe I could combine the two somehow by taking a government-sponsored cruise and write a novel!
It was a dreary and foreboding moment for Juliet as she pondered tearfully with heaving and panting breaths, her longing for Sven, her long-lost beau of an era swept away by the wind which whipped the willows in a wild winter when wondrous wanderings of the heart did happen.
Hey, I could dig it.
Then I wondered what I could get if I decided to quit working, quit paying for health insurance and had $45 dollars in my savings account. I would quality for 32 government programs in my state! Not only would I potentially quality for the Special Milk Program but also the Colorado Summer Food Service program. I’m not sure how as a middle-aged woman those school-based programs would apply to me, but maybe it’s because women are recommended to get lots of calcium in their diet.
But certainly I could qualify for more than that. So I re-took the quiz and claimed to be a “practicing artist.” Hey! I practice my dance steps everyday! I also added that I have an Injury or Illness because the other day I got this nasty hamstring pull from practicing so much. And I also put in my claim to have a “difference of limb length” because I’m pretty sure that my right leg is 1/17th millimeter longer than the left. I added that I would like Mental Health Services because I’ve been so distraught over the U.S. socialist revolution that happened on November 4. I would also like some Women’s Health Care. Oh, also, I answered “yes” to the question, “Do you feel that you’ve been denied housing or financial assistance due to discrimination.” I’m awfully sure that I feel that somewhere along the line I been discriminated against.
Guest what? 37 programs! Oh my gosh! Lots of housing assistance. Food stamps. Health care. Architectural Barrier Act Enforcement (that’s probably because of my limb length difference). Energy assistance. Short-term lending. Job opportunities for low-income persons (hey! I don’t want a job!). Weatherization Assistance for Low-income persons (now, THAT, I could use).
And I would only have to jettison maybe that one Objectivist virtue of “independence” to get my goodies. But hey, as our presidential candidates reminded us, this is the country of sacrifice, right?
Tara Smith in her book, “Ayn Rand’s Normative Ethics: The Virtuous Egoist,” presents Ayn Rand’s definition of the virtue of independence: “one’s acceptance of the responsibility of forming one’s own judgements and living by the work of one’s own mind.” Tara Smith adds,
More colloquially, it is a matter of making one’s own way in the world. The independent person supports himself both intellectually and materially, thinking for himself and taking productive action to sustain himself.
As an individual becomes an adult, a psychological milestone of independence is supposed to occur. This is a time when children separate from their parents who cared and provided for them; they strike out their own, choose a career or job, form new social relationships, and pursue their values. Our welfare-minded society enables the dependency of many of its adult citizens, leaving them in a perpetual state of adolescence, unable to survive without sacrificing others to meet their endless needs.
I’ve decided after all not to apply for that government-sponsored cruise to become a novelist (although, I hate to deprive the world of my prose). But a society that sacrifices its citizens so that others don’t have to grow up is an immoral society.
And despite the so-called good intentions of politicians and interest groups who come up with these care-taking programs, they are no different than the parents who enable their unemployed 30-year-old offspring to live at home for free and play video games all day long.
The virtue of independence is a requirement for survival as a moral being. Only in an individual-rights-respecting society, where there is no sacrifice of some to pay for the dependency of others, can the virtue of independence manifest to its fullest potential — a benevolent society of individuals left free to pursue their happiness.
So for now I’ll keep my job and work on that novel on my free time. (I know you can hardly wait for me to finish it!)