Thursday, March 25, 2010

Helping the N(gr)eedy

**please note that this post has been in my drafts for about a week and I'm posting it to get it out and done with so I can post about other things. I haven't even read through it and that means it's jumpy and none of it flows (please don't kill me, because I'm hating myself enough for it already)**

Remember the Plan of Salvation? How we come to this earth and whoever does all they can and takes the right steps can apply the atonement to their lives and receive exaltation? Good plan, huh? Almost divine, right? Please keep this idea in mind as you read the following:

At my company we hired a receptionist through the reservation employment system. I didn’t even know it was possible before for a receptionist position, but this girl turned out to be highly unqualified. We really did try to teach her things and to work with her and to get her to work, but I guess after being raised on government charity she had no incentive to leave it. In the end she spent the majority of her work day cruising the internet, watching online videos, filling the office with her horrible music choices (unforgivable), and clogging up the company’s unlimited long distance line (we deal with reservations outside 480/602/623) talking to her boyfriend. When asked about a task requested hours ago, she would revert back to a simple assignment from days before, briefly, before returning to her diversions. We’re pretty forgiving people when it comes to some personal internet time taken at work, but it’s upsetting when you’re just downright lazy. Pretty soon we all were pretty sick of it and the bosses said it was time to go.

My recommendation was to just fire her, as we had plenty of good reason, but the decision was made to lay her off since her wages earned and time worked wouldn’t qualify her for unemployment benefits anyway, and saying, “because you’re lazy and did a lousy job” is pretty hard to say to someone’s face. I can understand that. Understanding that, though, changes nothing in the facts that I now have to deal with and fight her unemployment application.

It was while grumbling about this to myself that I started thinking about how messed up all this is.

We tell our citizens, “There’s no need for you to save or plan for a day when you won’t have that income. Go and spend all you make, get into debt even, ‘cause hey, when that’s gone and you have bills to pay and bellies to feed and those evil credit card companies come after you for payment, we’ve got you covered!” When a person loses his job the first action is to go file for your rightful unemployment before even considering looking at the job market. Why? Because it’s free money duh! And the next step, of course, is to go get your other welfare checks. This receptionist of ours received food stamps money, and nearly every day walked into the office with a five-dollar bag of gas station chips or some other assortment of snacks they charge you triple for. Does that look/sound/smell like she’s someone down on her luck and in need working her way out of a slump? Or is that more like a gross waste of the money taken straight out of my paycheck? I hope you like those chips because I just worked an hour for you to have them. You’re welcome.

But don’t think I haven’t forgotten the other side, that there actually are those that are truly needy, those that I would give my week’s pay to without even thinking (which is why I’m not allowed to carry cash). And older friend of mine is the one in his family that they always default back to for help. When he lost his job due to the construction decline in AZ and, though actively searching, was out of work for over nine months, unemployment insurance, though not much, helped to feed his family. In the income lapse, they gave up extracurriculars and more. They budgeted. How is it, though, that we can help the needy and weed out the greedy?

The church has it figured out. If only the government could run like the church. It can't, though. Two main reasons I can think of: head is not Christ, 99% of things done in/for the church is by voluntary workers. Still, I often think of ways to fix government programs by basing them on church programs. Am I a nerd for that? You'll probably think me more of a nerd when I admit that one thing I really look forward to in General Conference is hearing the church audit report. It is a huge testimony builder to me to hear an independent audit team give the Church an unqualified opinion, and that internal controls are in place and not surpassed, and that my tithing money is being used according to the Lord's wishes. It lets me know that the system really works. Sadly, I don't have that same faith in the government, neither state nor federal.

Mike and I work hard to be self-sufficient. We appreciate nice things, but we can also do without. When our receptionist asked one day if it was okay for her to pay me back the lended gas money another day I said, “oh I didn’t even think of it!” And then, not wanting it to sound to someone that doesn’t have a lot like we’re so rolling that I don’t even miss ten bucks from my wallet, said, “Oh we just don’t ever spend money or go shopping really. Most of the stuff in our apartment is borrowed or second-hand and half of my wardrobe is from high school.” She was surprised, but it’s true. Although we’re earning more right now than we ever have (you know, in the whole year we’ve been married), our spending will not go up. We are not extravagant with our choices and keep things realistic. We are getting a house that is at only half of what we could qualify for, but that we consider to be the best choice for us.

Even with all our frugality, though, after all we can do there are still times when we need to turn to family for help. When we were moving into an apartment and had zero furniture. When we needed a car to use until we had the cash to fix ours. When we needed some money to pay tuition up front instead of getting a loan. Our family and friends have been there, and I think that’s how it’s supposed to work.

I wish people would stop thinking we are a welfare country, that it is a responsibility of the government to provide for you when you can't or refuse to.

To finally be finished, I like the following quotes, whether they apply to this or not:

"A government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take from you everything you have," Gerald R. Ford in an address to a joint session of Congress on August 12, 1974.

"If we ever forget that we are One Nation Under God, then we will be a nation gone under."

"Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same."
-Ronald Reagan

(can you guess which way my political affiliation tends?)


Natalie and Trent said...

I have to say that I agree its difficult to weed out the greedy. But I do greatly appreciate the governments systems. If you didn't know, I quit my job when I got pregnant with Logan because we had enough with Trent's job. We switched to his health insurance and everything. Four weeks later he was let go. He was actively searching for a job. After four months he got a temp job at a call center that sends him home five hours early most days. We are STILL at that job and he has applied to over 200 positions. After much prayer and all of our savings gone, we felt that it was right to apply for medicaid. It wasn't until September that we applied for WIC to get food for Logan. Without this help, we wouldn't have survived. Granted, family is nice. But not everyones family is as willing as yours are. Both of ours were completely aware of our situation. Mine has always been unwilling to help. His cannot afford to help; although, they have tried as much as they could. I don't believe in taking advantage of these programs and I always thought the people who used them were lazy. But the truth is, not everything will be perfect and not everyone who uses it is worthy. But there are people, like us, out there that it is TRULY helping despite all our efforts. I now work when Trent isn't going to school so we never have any time for each other and the only day of the week one of us isn't working is Sunday. I feel like we are doing all we can but sometimes that doesn't give enough. Anyways, thought I would give an alternate perspective. It makes me sad that people view this system so terribly because people like the girl you worked with make those of us that use it look awful.

Mauri said...

I agree with you. There are A LOT of people out there who just use the Government system because they are lazy and it's free money. I know someone who quit her job because she didn't want to work. Her husband was working for his dad and getting paid under the they both were able to apply for unemployment and got that money every month and it was like "extra money" to spend. I know there are some people out there that really do need it. But I'm not a fan thinking that my tax dollars do go towards some people who just take it because it's free and they are lazy. Ugh. I wish there was a more fair way to do it. I think us in the church are extremely lucky because there are ward members who can help and also our families understand more and are willing to help when and where they can.

Katie said...

I agree with you that the church has got it right. I mean, the church will help people when they need it, but will also try to make sure those people are learning and striving to help themselves. I'm more than willing to pay fast offerings, etc., because I know those funds are being used appropriately. But when it comes to higher taxes for things (like, ahem, giant health care plans), I think it's just fueling the fire. I think government programs really are fantastic when they help people get back on their feet, and some people definitely need them in times of hardship, but lots of people do take advantage of them, and that's just wrong! If only there was a way to weed out the weeds.

Chad said...

Sarah and I both agree. When I was laid off from my job, I did go apply for unemployment. Not because I thought I was entitled, but because I wanted to make sure we could make until I got another job. After moving to a better market, (I almost said luckily, but I worked very hard) I found a new job 2 months later, and having done work on the side, I never collected a single unemployment check.

I am living the American Dream, though I have not yet achieved my greater goals; my needs are satisfied, and I have done it all by my own sweat. I just wish there were fewer people asking for handouts they don't really deserve.

shirley elizabeth said...

Just as an update....