Dear Unknown Author:
I read your article that has been published and shared around the internet: This Student Was Ashamed Of Her Republican Father Until He Said This. It does not have a title per say, but rather a sensational headline. It's catchy, really. Imagine the hope it gives to the Republican parents of "unenlightened" college students; all they have to do is get their kids to read your article and their previous political views will dissolve like sugar in hot coffee.
The daughter in the story is challenging her father's opposition to higher taxes on the rich and the addition of more government welfare programs. The father basically responds by suggesting these taxes are the equivalent of his daughter handing over one point of her 4.0 GPA to her irresponsible, lazy friend who only has a 2.0 GPA. In an aha moment, the daughter gets it. She earned her 4.0 GPA. Why should she give some of it up to her undeserving friend so that they can be equal?
The most obvious flaws I see in this analogy are these:
You are making the damaging and sweeping assumption that all public assistance recipients are lazy, irresponsible members of society whose plan in life is to mooch off of others, namely you. This is simply not true.
Don't get me wrong. I know that there are people who abuse the system. I get it. There are flaws in the system. There are people who should be looking for jobs and aren't. And they spend money they don't have on things like cigarettes and smart phones and *gasp* seafood. They are spending your hard earned tax dollars on things they don't need when they should be earning their own money!
But what about all the recipients that need some help to survive and support their families? What about the injured, the ill, the handicapped, or the single mother with a deadbeat ex who is trying to feed her children and put herself through school? The majority of public assistance recipients are trying to make ends meet.
And public assistance isn't just about food stamps and welfare checks, you know. If you get laid off tomorrow because, you know, shit happens, should you be denied the unemployment check while you seek a new job? What about health insurance? You might need that as well. Will you stand staunchly behind your beliefs then, Unknown Author?
The second flaw in the analogy is this assuption: that our taxes are too high. By historical or any other assessment, this is wrong. Do the research. Stop with the fearful mindset that tells you the government is trying to rob you of your money just so others can get a leg up. That attitude will get you nowhere in life, I promise. In fact, it will hold you back from all the wealth that could be yours if you just shifted your perception.
But believe it or not, I think we may have some common ground here, dear Author. Just as I think it is an uninformed attitude that puts all welfare recipients into one category, I also think it is ignorance that leads people to believe all rich people are somehow undeserving of all that money.
I believe that most wealthy people have earned their wealth, through effort and study and habits and passion and a belief in themselves. We should not begrudge them, but rather we should study them. They know something.
In addition to knowing how to accumulate wealth, and how to be successful, here is something else that many intelligent, wealthy and reasonable individuals know: it is fair and equitable to pay higher taxes than they are paying. Warren Buffet is surely not the only one with this attitude.
But here's something else we may agree on: I don't think handouts are the only way to lift people up from their position in life. In fact, without an actual shift in mindset, or paradigm, people will keep getting the same results, over and over. If your underlying belief is that you will never have enough, then you won't. That is why, if your belief is that you will always be poor (or fat or unsuccessful or fearful or bad at such and such) then you will be. You will keep getting what you believe you deserve or are capable of.
For someone to make a permanent leap out of poverty, they have to change their psychological paradigm. Chances are, they grew up poor and their parents grew up poor, and this belief of lack has been absorbed through the years and is not an easy one to change.
It takes work to change a mindset. It also takes consistency and education and courage and role models. Transformation, even of the non-dramatic variety, requires spending less time with people who live in undesirable circumstances and more time with those who have what you are after. It requires taking in a different and more empowering message, from yourself and preferably from other people too.
I know what will not help lift people out of poverty.
Telling them they are lazy.
Treating them like outcasts.
Telling them they are weak for needing assistance.
But in closing, since you prefer to speak in analogies, or stories, Unknown Author, here is mine:
Father asks his daughter how she is doing in school. She says great. She is working hard, believes she is smart and knows has her parents' praise, support and approval. Then he asks how her friend is doing. Poorly, is the answer. Her friend is not doing well at all. She's working two part time jobs, is struggling with some courses and worried she will have to drop out. Father says: How about if you tell her about the tutoring services offered , and remind her to apply for financial aid. Encourage her. Tell her you know she can get through school, that she is capable and you will offer help when you can. Ask her what her passions and dreams are. She might have forgotten, or not allowed herself to have them. And the daughter does. And the friend starts to see the light. Not immediately. It takes time. And support. And kindness. But eventually, she graduates. She is a productive member of society. She pays her taxes. She encourages someone else to do the same.
Won't you consider this scenario?