Working hard and welfare


Tyler Murphy

Inspired by the ES forum: Public assistance in chenango county

Think of all those lower income jobs. Just recalling my personal experience, I vividly remember being a gas station clerk as one of the worst, most thankless jobs I’ve ever had.

Every day I’d come in and tell myself that after this experience, I’m never going to work that kind of job again. But I still came in everyday until I found something better. I still took the job when I needed it. I hate to admit it but if I was desperate again tomorrow I’d still rather have it than not.

It’s hard working for a living and I hate it. My family and I grew up in a constant financial struggle which still continues for many of us today. Though eligible for some aid there was a streak of independence that ran deep in our genes. There was always some relative luxury to cut or some cheaper alternative to adopt. Not that people don’t get desperate, after a life time of minimization you just want to scream. But you can at least catch a breath of pride to comfort you. At least you didn’t rely on anyone for what you’ve got. Whatever your life is, it’s yours. It’s yours to fail or to improve, to lose or to live. No one to thank and no one to blame.

Life is a bitch, but in the end no matter who you have to blame, it’s still going to be the only one you’ve got. Other people might be able to set your life back but only you can move it forward.

I know exactly just how much it sucks to come home to a desolate, one bedroom apartment with the heat hovering just above frozen pipes and below the final notice. There isn’t any cable or Internet when you’re struggling to maintain the most basic car liability insurance and functional repairs. But don’t worry, the decade-old cars you can afford have a short enough life span that you honestly don’t need a large investment in either of those two prospects.

One of the hardest things for struggling young adults is coping with the utter lack of a support structure. Both in family and in government. Coming from poverty is a state of being, not just an origin. Poor or low-income families have little, to no financial support, to offer. You are alone and you always will be. No one’s going to take care of you. (Unless you want to take the government’s money.)

Being a regular working stiff means accumulating all the financial responsibilities and none of the entitlement perks. I’m sure there are a lot of jobs out there that are just as much an ordeal. No health care, no retirement (future), little pay, no appreciation and no room for growth. More and more it seems our area offers nothing but these kinds of jobs.

So after working 10 hours at a job where I’m dolling out cigarettes, beer and lottery tickets, which I can barely afford to indulge in myself, to people collecting welfare it can be hard to stay motivated. Hell, its hard at times to have any hope.

I feel bad for people and I have seen the world from that gloomy perspective. Apathy is a solution for those unable to imagine a way out of it.

“It’s easier to lose yourself in drugs than it is to cope with life. It’s easier to steal what you want than it is to earn it. It’s easier to beat a child than it is to raise it.”
–Morgan Freeman

Social mobility takes a lot effort and work these days, more than it has in the past few decades. Improvement is slow, costly and some people fall off the path to something better.

You start to wonder what really separates you and them, besides an apparent abundance of free government money and time. What makes some people in these circumstances rise above and others descend?

I’m not a worldly person but I’m familiar with the scenes of tragedy in this place I call home. I don’t think I’m better than other people, maybe more idealistic. I believe in positive lifestyle reform through one’s own hands.

“The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place and I don’t care how tough you are it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard you hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done. Now if you know what you’re worth then go out and get what you’re worth. But you have to be willing to take the hits, and not pointing fingers saying you ain’t where you wanna be because of him, or her, or anybody. Cowards do that.”
–Rocky

Not that I don’t take every chance to quote Rocky that I can but the truth in this remark could have come from the Messiah. He’s absolutely correct. Life on welfare is never going to get any better unless you want it to be. I don’t know about the rest of you, but despite the fact I’m completely broke at the moment, I intend on being a millionaire- or to die trying.

Badly managed, long term welfare subsidizes laziness, depression and then creates a stable environment for those things to fester. People need help but they don’t need the option of never having to care about life. When you have generational poverty and people facing such a host of other issues they tend to have a hard time appreciating the true potential they possess. Bad welfare policy, literally and metaphorically, feed the addictions of poverty. And that’s what we have.

As much as we need to end infinite welfare we need to replace it with a leaner, more efficient form that actually works too. People need real jobs and options more than they need a hand out. As long as working people continue to struggle I don’t see how we can justifly so much spending on the non-working.