Friday, March 19, 2010

Oink and Croak

Note to all my extremely liberal blog readers: This may be a post that you might want to skip. Forewarned is forearmed (or so they say).

Lately I've been feeling hinky about something. Hinky in the sense that I feel bothered, but I can't exactly put my finger on it. Hinky in the sense that when I do put my finger on it, I end up feeling like a selfish toad. Hinky in the sense that I don't think of myself as your basic selfish toad - and yet...

I might start by supporting the I'm-not-a-selfish-toad thing. Not to ring my bell or anything, but I do my share of giving. I donate to a decent number of well meaning groups. MS Society, Cystic Fibrosis, Breast Cancer - you know the ones. I try to support my friends who are walking or riding or swimming or skateboarding for the causes and charities that they hold dear to their own hearts. I participate in the walk-a-thon, the this-drive, the that-drive and the who-knows-what drive to support our kid's school who does a great job of ensuring that lots of different kinds of folks can attend there. I give my time and my money to Cambodia Tomorrow to ensure that our school there is successful. I even give out the occasional money to the guy on the street. And yet...

What I'm finding bothersome and disturbing lately is how much more I am expected to give. For things that don't have much to do with me. Just things that, because we have enough money, someone else expects us to give to them. It's like a great number of Americans have embraced the notion that they "deserve" things - things that they don't work for and oftentimes things that they don't even appreciate once they've been given.

I graduated college with a degree in elementary education. Not exactly the most marketable degree - and certainly not the way to start earning "the big bucks." I spent a few years living on the edge. The edge of not being able to pay my rent, my childcare bills, my food bills. So, it's not as if I don't understand the "need." And, yet, with some hard work I managed to get to where I am now. What I am beginning to resent is that there are so many who don't want to do the work to get there. They just want me to finance it for them. And this bothers me. More than I would like it to.

The whole premise of taking from the rich to pay for the poor niggles me. The whole premise of "I'm entitled" bugs me to no end. I know it's not PC. I know it's not popular (hence the selfish toad thing). But, darn it. I worked. I earned. I sacrificed time away from my kids to ensure their futures. And yet, there are those that feel that because I have it - well they should get it from me. Why? I dunno. That's what stumps me.

And the worst of it is that when I am forced to give it away - taxes for this, fees for that - I get the sense that it's not appreciated by the lion's share of those who get it. There's no increase in volunteerism, there's little "giving back" there's just this gaping hole of "I deserved it." One tiny snapshot: Look at the survivors of Katrina. Many are still sitting on their keisters waiting for someone to come and bail them out. They didn't get enough. They weren't given everything. They're pissed off cause it wasn't made exactly right for them. Another tiny snapshot: A family who receives food stamps is asked to give back to the same community by helping to pick up trash and is incensed that they "have to." Why? I dunno. That's what stumps me.

Maybe I would feel better if I knew the people who were getting the benefits of the money that we give. You know - we could match up haves with havenots and try for the quid pro quo kind of thing. I give you money, you volunteer somewhere. I give you money, you help clean up the neighborhood. I give you money, you get to be the crossing-guard at your school. I dunno. Something. Anything. Some kind of tit for tat. Something for something.

Instead, my experience is that I give the money and I volunteer and I help clean up the neighborhood and I am the crossing guard. And I am the one who pays for social programs and foots the bill for a better health care program. For all that, and we still have to work harder to ensure that our own children go to University. Yup. Selfish Toad.

Croak Croak. Oink Oink. And now, let us return to our regularly schedule programming....


2W3 said...

Could not agree more! We have created an entitlement society in which no one is responsible for their own actions. You spill hot coffee on yourself, because you did not have the basic intellect to acknowledge that when you bought a cup of steaming hot coffee it would be hot (or the basic dexterity not to spill it) - you're an idiot - no money.... and quit having 17 kids!

To compliment this, we have people who actually believe that someone owes them something. I work an average of 12 hours per day. Why do I have to pay for the health care of a 35 year old guy who plays Xbox all week and cuts themselves on the glass shards of the bong the dropped.

..And while I am on the subject - I feel I should have some say in the eligibility of someone who receives a portion of the tax burden that I and my fellow "criminals" in the top brackets pay since we shoulder 83% of the tax burden.

The United States is the most voluntarily philanthropic society in the world, but when you start forcing people to part with what is theirs, they will stop giving and those who are truly in need, like children, will not be supported.

Stephanie said...

Here here! Or is it, hear hear?? I recently attempted to explain to my 19 year old about this health care "reform" and that WE are the "rich" people that have to pay for it. I further tried to explain how she is not entitled to the remainder of our money as she is looking for her new apartment for the next school year.

Chris said...

To add a third voice of agreement, Right On! The culture of entitlement that has developed in America vexes me. I work hard. I had help in undergrad but leveraged a corporate program and put myself thru grad school. While working. And while having kids. And while running a non-profit.
These days I earn my stack of money because I got educated and worked at it.
My wife and I donate a big chunk 'o' cash to worthy charities every year and yet there is always someone standing there with their hand out: "Please donate to the Retired Police Dogs with Scabies Fund. The scabies mutts are depending on you." No they're not.
We explain to our kids that we are fortunate and that we should help others who are not as lucky as we. I give. I know many who give. I will continue to give. And yet I have donation fatigue.
Last year I wrote a check to some charity and IMMEDIATELY regretted it upon delivery. From then on, I decided No Guilt. I will not be guilted into donating.
Bootstrap up. Work at it. America is still the land of opportunity. You get nothing if you don't work at it.
I don't think it's a liberal / conservative thing, Wendy. I think it's a charity fatigue thing.

Chris said...

"Compassion fatigue." That's the phrase I was searching for.