One dark evening this summer I was hanging out on the covered patio at a Chincoteague Island, Virgina motel, which reminded me of a scene out of that classic 1942 movie staring Humphry Bogart and Ingrid Bergman, Casablanca. As I sat there under the whirling ceiling fans, I met a 67 year old woman named Jacqueline.
Jacqueline reminisced about how several decades ago, she came to Chincoteague and had great fun feeding the birds on the ferry ride down from Cape May, New Jersey. She wanted to recapture the great fun of feeding the birds for her grandchildren, but was told by the boat captain, “We quit doing that years ago.”
Now there are signs posted all over the island as you approach the National Park warning against feeding any kind of wildlife. Feeding animals is against the law and violators can suffer enforcement repercussions should they ignore the warnings.
It is natural to wonder, why is the fun of feeding wildlife any kind of problem?
National Parks management has determined that if humans feed wildlife, the easy hand-out of free food changes wild animal behavior making it difficult to impossible for wildlife to independently take care of themselves. The animals lose their ability to gather and hunt for their own food.
Jacqueline then said, “You know when you stop to think about it, our public welfare system suffers from the same problem, only we are talking about humans instead of wildlife”.
There are plenty of cases where young single women purposefully get pregnant, multiple times, in order to get free government money. Jacqueline knows of fourth generation welfare recipients. No one in the family has ever worked and they are proud of their family heritage of having become another in a long line of Welfare recipients.
Like animals some people have lost their ability to gather and hunt for food via engaging in the job market. I know some people with two or three jobs, while others can’t or won’t get one job. That needs to be fixed.
Maybe there should be a sign that reads, “Do Not Feed People.”
Before anyone starts yelling at me, please understand I agree with the idea that no one, especially children, should go hungry in a country as wealthy as ours.
Conversely, I agree with Jacquiline’s idea that while we should help people, we should not ruin them by feeding them for ever. We should help them for a reasonable period of time until they can take care of themselves and their family by getting a job.
Providing young women with a financial incentive to have multiple children out of wedlock so they can get free money for decades is a defective plan. It is not good for the parent and it is not good for the children.
If an adult with children is never going to be able to support themselves and their family, then perhaps they are not fit to be parents. CPS frequently removes children from unfit parents, but financial fitness has never been a criteria. If CPS threatened to declare me unfit as a parent because I could not display any ability to financially support my children, I would become very serious about improving my education and landing a permanent job.
I well understand that most folks do not like it when you talk like this. Believe me, I see no benefit in making anyone angry. All I am saying is we need a Welfare system that helps people short term to get past a current problem with follow-up that enables them to be able to support their own family long term.
You may not like Jacquiline’s thinking, but I believe she has a point worthy of discussion. There is a parallel between “Do Not Feed Animals” and “Do Not Feed People”.
I have asked SWS, my collaborative, nationally prominent cartoonist, to sketch a new sign. If enough politicians and social workers see the cartoon sign, perhaps they will rethink how we can best help those in need. No matter how good the intentions may be, it is obvious our current work-ethic busting programs that dole out other people’s money is hurting those we wish to serve.