THE BLOG
10/21/2012 08:48 pm ET | Updated Dec 21, 2012

Should the Abuses of Some Hurt Those in True Need of Help?

When I was in elementary school, a teacher left the classroom and told us all to be quiet. I vividly remember staying in my seat with my hands folded on top of my desk and my mouth closed. Some of the students became rowdy. When the teacher came back, she punished all of us by having to write 100 times "I will be quiet." Begrudgingly, I wrote my sentences. All these years, I have never forgotten how totally unfair it was to punish the entire class for the actions of some students.

There is a lot of discussion going on about entitlement and people who "work" the system. No one wants to have the money he or she has worked hard for wasted. No one wants to be taken advantage of or feel responsible for the malfeasance of others. Who wants to feel exploited? I don't and many Americans don't either.

If making the choice, I would rather keep programs in place that help people even if there is a segment taking advantage. I would prefer to find ways for people to not "work" the system instead of taking away programs for people who genuinely need it.

My mother told me that I never knew when I would be entertaining angels unaware. I can not tell you how many times I have given money or food to a person in need. While remaining fiscally responsible, I figured that if I was being suckered at least my intentions were pure. That person will have to be responsible and accountable for his or her own actions. Those are my beliefs, and I do not want to impose my beliefs on others. I do think it is reasonable, however, to advocate that government systems are improved rather than destroyed based on the abuse by some.

Here is an example. At one point in my life, I used to tutor children at a homeless shelter that was for newborns and their families. The families were diverse and ran from two parent households that had hit hard times to women leaving abusive relationships. I worked with children who were in elementary school, and the situations were so sad sometimes that I left in tears.

One of the great things about the shelter was that life skills were taught. People were taught how to interview, cook, balance a checkbook, and other skills. After maintaining employment for a continuous amount of time, families were transitioned to an apartment. The shelter monitored them to make sure that they were able to handle their responsibilities. It worked.

The crux of the matter for me is that some of our fellow Americans truly need help. We have disabled Veterans, senior citizens, widows, orphans, people who are ill, people who have gone through catastrophic events, people who are taking care of a sick parent or sick child, people who are trying to better their lives -- the list goes on. Rather than punish those who legitimately need help from the system, shouldn't we advocate that better safeguards are in place to insure those who need help get it? Rather than end the program, couldn't we initiate programs where people are assisted in entering the workforce? In other words, can't we fix the problems rather than throw out the entire system? Isn't that better than letting the abuses of some hurt those who are genuinely in need?

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