Since ascending to the presidency in January 2009, Obama has spent much of his time tearing down this country instead of building it up. His hope and change, now fleshed out in health care reform, the stimulus package, and legislation aimed at giving the feds more control over Wall Street, has proven as hopeless as it has intrusive. Even honest Democrats are starting to see that Obama’s change was for the worse.
Because of these things, many Americans feel what Fouad Ajami describes as an “embarrassment that a political majority, if only for a moment, fell for the promise of an untested redeemer [in 2008].” But while there is embarrassment on the part of some, there are a number of people who still shamelessly clamor for Obama’s handouts and display, in the process, the ugliest aspects of government dependence.
For instance, when news broke during the first week of August that food stamp usage had hit its highest level in U.S. history, a picture proliferated with the story in which a woman in the food stamp line was talking on her smart phone. And there was a similar picture during the spring of 2009, when Michelle Obama was working a soup line and people in the soup line were using their smart phones to take pictures of Mrs. Obama serving them.
How can people who are so supposedly so financially stricken that they can’t afford food find the money to buy smart phones?
The nasty little secret is that in some states, government dependence enables you to get a free cell phone with 200 free minutes a month too. That’s right: in Michigan, North Carolina, New York, Tennessee, and Virginia, if you are food stamp dependent you can get a cell phone for free. This awkward (and obvious) confusion of needs and wants only highlights the ugliness of government dependence.
And while we cannot say that everyone who accepts help from programs like food stamps does so with an eye to avoiding work indefinitely, we are foolish if we fail to see that many of the people who take food stamps do so because they believe they’ve found the golden goose in “Obama money.” They believe this goose will allow them to live free of charge from now on.
This is ugly in the sense that it is abnormal. And it is abnormal because free people cannot be both free and dependent: we must either be free or dependent. So it’s ugly to see people trade their freedom for a paternal government that promises to meet all their needs for them.
It’s also ugly to see a government that is willing to strip people of all their dignity by trying to meet their every need. Thus one of the greatest problems we face as a nation is the fact that our president and the Democrats in Congress are actually encouraging this dependence. In addition to growing the rolls for long established programs like welfare and food stamps, they’ve extended unemployment benefits to 99 weeks (which means you can go just short of two years without working and receive Obama money to sustain yourself), they’ve started paying for dinners for public school students in some states, and on August 11, 2010, they announced a new infusion of $3 billion in “housing aid” to help “unemployed homeowners facing foreclosure.”
All this and “free” cell phones too? And just think, all they want in exchange for these goods and services is our dignity (although they’d be pleased as punch if we’d give them our votes as well).
This whole scenario is ugly.