Editor’s note: This commentary is by Mary Daly, who lives in Peacham.
I am very glad that I call myself a Republican. Of course, I have done this my whole life so it isn’t new. So why would I celebrate this now? I find that we have a positive view point on life and look at the good in the world. It seems that the Democratic Party is very unhappy and Democrats are attempting to sway us to feel the same as they do. Then there is all the anger and unrest as demonstrated by the masses of protesters on a variety of issues and horrible mass shootings.
I believe that our government must practice fiscal responsibility and allow individuals to keep more of the money they earn. When I look at my electric bill, for instance, I am incensed. There is the regular charge for the electricity that I use each month. Then added are an Energy Efficiency Charge and Electric Assistance Program Fee. There has been talk of a carbon tax, which may still happen. These taxes are to help others weatherize their homes or buy an electric vehicle, for instance. Now, I know that I have spent several thousand dollars on insulated skirting and on new, more efficient storm doors on my modular home. I would never expect my neighbors and others to help me with those costs.
Then there are the welfare programs for which the taxpayers are responsible for the costs but have little control about how that money is spent. I am very aware that there are individuals who are destitute and need help, and I am thankful that I am not one of them. But giving many of these individuals assistance without an expectation of a return is merely enslaving them in the programs. I spent much of my career as a rehabilitation nurse. Our job was to teach the patients to learn how to care for themselves and to become as independent as possible within the limits of their disability. It was satisfying to watch these severely disabled individuals accomplish goals as they progressed through their program. It would be a great improvement of the welfare programs if there were an expectation of less dependence built in. Notice, I did not say the goal would be independence for everyone. There are some who will not be able to make significant progress. We all have strengths and those could be identified and used to allow the individual to have a sense of accomplishment. Think how good it is to learn a new skill or be able to advance toward independence, even if it is just baby steps.
As an RN I have also worked in the home health care industry. The largest frustration when working with patients who were getting state support was based on rules. When it was possible for a patient to progress toward a goal, the rules often got in the way. Say the goal was to become employed at an entry level, and they would risk losing a needed benefit to stay afloat temporarily; if the welfare system were more client oriented, it would be possible to continue getting help to support them through the transition process. Fear of losing essential benefits often prevents progress toward independence.
Those who administer these programs need to do a self-assessment. Does their satisfaction come from keeping their people on their program and helping them by giving assistance? Would their sense of satisfaction be greater as they were able to expect their clients to become less dependent or even independent? And then what about the clients themselves? Would it not be better for them to know the satisfaction of being independent or less dependent? I know, for myself, that helping severely injured patients to regain function within the limits of their disability was extremely rewarding. Shouldn’t those types of rewards be extended to the clients of the welfare programs?
One Republican mantra applies here: I believe that the strength of our nation lies with the individual and that each person’s dignity, freedom, ability and responsibility must be honored.