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By David J Van Deusen

People with mental and physical challenges many times are unemployed and poor. We should be sympathetic and compassionate to them. We should help them if they want help. When manufacturing plants closes, those employees do not choose to be unemployed. Others are laid off. We should provide a safety net for those unemployed. Most others however choose to be unemployed and poor.

In 1990, Marshall Field’s, Chicago’s department store chain, was bought out by Dayton Hudson. In October of that year, Field’s information technology department closed for the last time. Except for a couple people, all the IT staff was laid off and became unemployed. Every third Friday in October since then, some of the former Field’s IT staffers meet to reminisce. During the 2nd anniversary meeting, two former IT staffers told how they had trouble finding IT jobs and their unemployment checks ran out. One went on welfare. One got an entry-level janitors job.

One chose to remain unemployed. One was not willing to live off the hard work of others. He did not want a government handout. He chose to go from a high paying IT job to a lower paying janitors job. In his time off, he continued to look for a higher paying IT job.

When Gov. Clinton was running for the presidency, the liberals were whining about how bad unemployment was. However in the Chicago area, I saw help wanted signs in store windows nearly everywhere I went. Was it the unemployed could not find a job? Or was it they could not find a job they liked? When they can live off the hard work of others, why take a job that they don’t like?

Many white-collar workers chose to stay on unemployment longer because they only consider jobs in their profession. As long as they can live off a government handout, they will not consider other jobs. Extend unemployment compensation handouts and the longer people chose to stay unemployed.

Many blue-collar workers also chose to stay on unemployment longer because they only consider jobs in their profession. When an automobile plant closes, do the laid off workers consider a job as a ditch digger or do they end up on welfare? Reader’s Digest had a story about some autoworkers that got laid off. Rather than chose unemployment and welfare, these workers drive three hours one way to get to their jobs at the next closest auto plant.

Lets look at another situation. A husband works at the local auto plant. His wife stays home. They have two children – an eleven-year-old boy and a twelve-year-old girl. They own their small home. Then one day, the auto plant closes. The father can’t find work in this rural area. So he abandons the family. He gets a divorce in Reno. To make ends meet, the woman gets a job as a waitress at the local greasy spoon. Since this is a rural area now with a high unemployment rate, the woman is paid a little above minimum wage.

Lets consider four ways of handling being "poor":

1) The woman isn’t happy with being "poor" and she buys into the liberal’s "it’s not my problem but society’s problem" way of thinking. She whines the government is not helping her enough. She whines about needing a "living" wage. She is unhappy. Her whining makes her family and the people around her unhappy.

2) The woman accepts her situation and is perfectly happy. She believes as long as she has her health, her freedom, her family and friends what more do you need.

3) The woman isn’t happy with being "poor" and she is going to do something about. She sells her home for whatever little she can get. She sells most of the family’s possessions. She loads her kids into the family Yugo and moves to the nearest big city. She gets a full time job and a part time job on the weekends. She attends college at night. After five years or so, she finishes college, starts a good paying job and buys a house.

4) Same situation as number 3 except she gets a full time job. However, she has researched the company and knows it has a good career opportunity program. She makes good use of the program. After 5 years, she has gone from a minimum wage entry level job to a job where she can buy a house.

Now what should the government’s involvement be in the four situations listed above?

1) For the whiner, the government should make sure the family doesn’t starve or freeze to death. Period. Nothing else. No "living" wage.

2) The government should do nothing. Her local community and church should make sure her family enjoys a nice Turkey dinner at thanksgiving and Christmas. If her roof leaks and she has trouble paying to fix the roof, her community should help her fix the roof.

3) The government should give her every help they can so she can become "richer". Then the government can really sock it to her.

4) The government should give the company every help so the company employees, using the company's career opporunity progam, can become "richer".

THE LAST WORD

"A young woman was about to finish her first year of college. She considered herself to be a very liberal Democrat, but her father was a staunch Republican. One day she was challenging her father on his beliefs and his opposition to high taxes and welfare programs. He stopped her and asked how she was doing in school. She answered that she had a 4.0 GPA, but it was really tough. She had to study all the time and never had time to go out and party. She didn't have time for a boyfriend and didn't really have many college friends because of spending all her time studying. On top of that, the part-time job her father insisted she keep left absolutely no time for anything else. He asked, 'How is your friend Mary?' She replied that Mary was barely getting by. She had a 2.0 GPA, never studied, but was very popular on campus, didn't have a job, and went to all the parties. She was always complaining about not having any money, but didn't want to work. Why, she often didn't show up for classes because she was hung over. Dad then asked his daughter why she didn't go to the Dean's office and request that 1.0 be taken off her 4.0 and given it to her friend who only had a 2.0. That way they would both have a respectable 3.0 GPA. Then, she could also give her friend half the money she'd earned from her job so that her friend would no longer be broke. The daughter angrily fired back, 'That wouldn't be fair. I worked really hard for my grades and money, and Mary just loafs. Why should her laziness and irresponsibility be rewarded with half of what I've worked for?' The father slowly smiled and said, 'Welcome to the Republican Party'." --Unattributed