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I decided to take my journal back over and use it for a better purpose - Entries. ^.~
The "Root" of Evil and it's Many Misconceptions
The saying goes "Money is the root of all evil" (though the original quote meant more that the love of money causes a great many evils) but if you ask me, money is a lot like guns - they don't kill people, people do. In a similar vein, money doesn't bring out the worst in people, sometimes the stress from lack of it does, or the quest for it as a source of power will, but money itself is just an improvement on the barter system. It allowed our culture to move from each job producing a product you could see, touch, weigh and quantify to one where most of us have jobs in a company that sells things, but we have no hand in making them or that does something, but we don't personally do it. However, the evil comes into play right about there - We get money for things increasingly further from the thing that money is for.

I have money on the mind for a few reasons, the first of which is that my sister is quitting her current job to take one that will pay a significant amount less. We are very financially responsible people, earn our money, pay our bills and do it without compromising more of our morals than we see fit, which brings me to the second reason. Around 5 or 6 months ago, the lease for our apartment was coming up and an acquaintance of Cat's was having trouble finding a place to live. Being the overly nice people that we are, she offered to let her stay with us. We moved to a larger apartment and agreed to split the rent 3 ways, only.... That's not what ended up happening.

On an aside and as back story - I have a few problems with my roommate, all on moral grounds. She's a pleasant person, but she's very far removed from reality. She's been partially disabled since birth, and grew up in a family quite dependent on the welfare system, to her money is something abstract - it comes from somewhere, but she didn't have to do anything meaningful to earn it. A sob story is her honest days work and she deserves a PS3 and $90 pants because she wants them. She's unable to leave the house because of choices she's made, and thus we must pay for TV service because she feels so alone in an empty house. Empty because we leave to earn the money to let her stay there and watch it.

So, back to the money. The first couple of months went smoothly for the most part, though our expenses went up instead of down (she 'needed' Internet and cable TV, both of which we had been doing without, then ran the air conditioner all summer, which again, we hadn't bother to use at the old place.) Then the government 're-arranged' its' welfare codes and her payment went down. Cat and I offered to buy a bed off of her, month by month in lieu of part of the rent since she couldn't make a full payment for awhile. This was all okay until she went out and bought some $200 in clothing, tried to drag me into helping her sue a poor guy for tapping the back of our car in heavy traffic (yeah, it was his fault, but she broke out in tears, demanded an ambulance ride and claims to be suffering long term pain from it as well as whiplash and a concussion when the crash wasn't hard enough to even make the seat belts lock o.O I barely felt it, and there was NO DAMAGE to either car, not even a nick or scratch!) and is a couple days out from going on a trip to California which, by her estimate, is going to run about $500-$700. She also had the nerve to ask us for a loan to go.... --.--

To top this all off, I've been driving her place, since she can't legally drive, and to her credit she pays gas money. However, on Thanksgiving, I had agreed to drop her off at her family's house before my shift. She decided she wanted to come back with me, then proceeded to ignore me when I said it was time to leave, get plates of food, and talk to her uncle for an extended period of time. All accumulating to making me an entire half hour late to my job.... For the record, I always show up 10 minutes early, the only time I've been more than a minute or two late to work was when I dropped my sister off at a train station and got lost on the way home. That was ten minutes late. She never said a word of apology.

All of which leaves a decidedly bitter taste in my mouth, needless to say. Also, it brings me back to my original point, money is behind every one of these sore spots - From increases, to disputes over what it should be spent on, to moral views on it. It's not the money though, it's the idea of the money. I earned it, my sister earned it, and we both feel that she's taking something from us. Not money, but the reward for our effort. Our ability to support ourselves, to buy things and be proud of them, to make our lives better by virtue of being better. She brings to the table money from the government, paid to her because she won't and partly can't earn it herself, food stamps because she can't feed herself and a sense of entitlement to anything and everything because everything she has was given to her.

Welfare is a well intentioned killer of human spirit - Why should she earn when she can sit back and get paid for not? Why should a young pregnant girl mend her style of life and take care of her kid when she'll get money to be irresponsible? Why should a low income family strive to pull themselves out of the gutter, aim for better jobs and better educations for their children when they can get free money for staying below a certain paygrade? There are cases where welfare saves people's lives, it keeps people from starving and dying, from going without a home, but rather than decreasing the number of people who wind up in these situations, it increases them dramatically, generations become dependent on it and never learn the value of money you earned with your own two hands. I believe that the few who were saved would either have been motivated to work that much harder to preserve themselves or would have been taken in by individuals in their community just exactly because there was no lifeline. People can wash their hands of others now because "Oh, the government will help them". If a person helps you, you feel indebted to them, you strive to pay them back and you have incentive to improve your condition so you don't have to depend on them. Not so when it's a faceless government handout, pay back who? Owed to what?

A friend of mine in England has no job, has never had a job and until recently had no intention of getting one. However, he went and collected unemployment benefits because it was free money. Another here in the states joined the airforce, then quit because of a back injury and considered trying to get long term benefits from them because of the injury. Not because it prevented him from earning money, but because he could get free money for life. A lady at work got herself fired rather than quitting because she could get unemployment benefits that way. All good people, just taking advantage of a system that exists for supposed emergencies and has come to be a path paved with gold.

The problem with such systems is you can't just cut it cold turkey, too many people have become so dependent on it, it'd be taking away their ability to live. So, a slow stepping down of it then? You'd still run into that threshold where some people would rather suffer and die off than become self-dependent, where the cumulate change becomes apparent. The real problem there is how close to the edge even the current system keeps its participants. There isn't much to cut off before it starts hurting (which in and of itself is a sign of the disease, the more you hand out, the more people rely solely on it).

Getting voters to understand that it must get worse before it gets better is very hard on issues that take more than 2 or 3 years to pan out, by 5 there's a new president and he has to make a platform based off whatever the public thought the last guy was doing wrong. All of which is the beauty and the downfall of our system of government - It stops any one thing from going too far in one jump by virtue of the collective short sightedness of a large group of people. The downfall bit is that the whole system makes a little PR and shoeshine go further than a solid plan with out the sugar coating, which brings us full circle back to money being muddled with the root of evil!

Until someone sees fit to create a flashy slogan and run a decade long campaign against the welfare system (somehow overriding all the marketing that's already been done about "helping all those poor people" and the stigma that anything anti-welfare is cruel) throwing untold dollars around in the process, I think we'll be stuck with it. Maybe, just maybe though, we can keep it from expanding and leaving more people helpless.

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