Monday, January 5, 2009

Work For It, Damn It!

Driving home from work yesterday, I saw a truck for a rent-to-own furniture store, and on the side was written, 'because everyone deserves nice things'. At the time, I didn't give it much thought other than noting that companies with mottos like that are just what our entitlement culture needs.

The thought came back to me tonight while doing dishes because I had read a blog earlier about socializing health care. I thought, 'Is there no limit to what we expect the government to provide for us?' What is the lesson here for my children (since this is a blog about family)? Something like 'Hey, don't worry about working hard because the government is going to take care of you'. I don't subscribe to this idea, and I want to raise children that believe in the power of freedom and self-reliance.

As I thought some more, while loading and unloading the dishwasher for the 2nd time today, the movie The Pursuit of Happyness came to mind because I remembered something that had really struck me when I watched it. I remember that Will Smith's character (Chris Gardner), during one of his struggles between poverty and homelessness thinks of Thomas Jefferson. According to the IMDB, the dialogue goes like this:

It was right then that I started thinking about Thomas Jefferson on the Declaration of Independence and the part about our right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. And I remember thinking how did he know to put the pursuit part in there? That maybe happiness is something that we can only pursue and maybe we can actually never have it. No matter what. How did he know that?

At his wits' end, Will Smith's character begins to doubt he will ever find happiness. What I love about the movie - he perseveres! Despite all the difficulties he has faced, he doesn't just give up and expect the government to take care of him, instead, he uses his unhappiness with his current situation as motivation to work his way out of it. I know, it's just a movie, but if you listen to the real Chris Gardner on YouTube, his life was, in fact, worse than the movie portrayed.

Having the freedom to pursue happiness - that is truly freedom. Our freedom and entrepreneurial spirit is part of what makes me feel blessed that I get to raise my children in this country. I hope they will never think they deserve something because others have it. I want them to grow up firmly believing they are masters of their own destiny.


Ward and June said...

I can'r stand the entitlement society we live in either, the only problem is that government already takes care of the people who don't work for a living.

You mentioned "entrepreneurial spirit", well I own my own business, and have eight employees who I can't afford to offer insurance to. My family's health insurance policy is $800/month, and it rises 10% every year.

I just feel like there could be some better regulation of the insurance industry. And if an expanded Medicare program could cover every American at a consistant cost and offer real coverage then I would be all for it.

Hoolie said...

Government has never been known to do anything in a cost-effective way. There's no doubt that good, affordable health care is a tall order, but I can tell you that a government-run system would never save anyone money. You realize who would end up footing the bill - those of us that already pay a ridiculous amount of taxes.

I too am a small business owner, and we are self-insured. We pay about 90% of our employees' premiums, and we have averaged a 30% increase in medical insurance costs for the last four years. This scenario is also unsustainable, and I believe employers will begin to move toward individual employee policies and off-set employees' expenses by paying them additional wages instead of paying their insurance premiums. How would that help?

It would change everything. Suddenly, the person actually receiving the benefit of the service is also paying for it. When you pay for things out of your own pocket, you are more cautious about what you spend. Additionally, we would force the medical industry to have to compete on price and service, which could only benefit us in both instances.

Many other countries have government-funded (hah!) medical care, but what country has the best, most innovative medical industry (despite its flaws)? We do.