Our sons and their families met in Pittsburgh last month for a week of touring those places they visited in their youth. The Carnegie Science Center and Museum of Natural History were tops on their lists of places to visit.
The cost to a family of four to visit the Science Center is $56. That is, unless you have an ACCESS card (Pennsylvania's euphemism for a welfare card). Then the cost is $4. Want to visit the museum? The working family pays $52. Present the card, and pay $4.
The argument is not that we had to pay more than another. Fortunately, for the time being anyway, we can afford to bear some of the cost of keeping these fine institutions open.
The argument goes much deeper.
Let me emphatically state that I believe state and federal government has an obligation to provide a safety net for those American citizens who, through no wish of their own, need assistance with living expenses, food, and healthcare. However, the slogan "Land of the Free" has, unfortunately, been misinterpreted by a large share of the population, and taken to the extreme by the politicos and self-proclaimed intellectuals who enable such thinking.
I firmly believe that every child has the right to be a kid and enjoy a multitude of experiences. I have to ask, however, whether those ACCESS parents were willing to settle for a smaller television, a cell phone with fewer toys, forego the latest video game, or give up a few packs of cigarettes, six packs, and chips, could they too afford to take their children to these wondrous places?
After all, the ever-shrinking "middle class," working poor, and senior citizens are forced daily to make choices as to what is affordable to them. Must we constantly subsidize those who are absolved of responsibility for themselves and their children?
Some of the individuals we have sent to represent us (?) in Washington have suggested that Social Security and Medicare are unnecessary "entitlements." Perhaps so ... had they not been taking money out of our paychecks all these years to fund those programs. Had Washington not stolen from the SS account to fund countless failed programs, agencies, and conflicts. Had Washington not used the fund to feed its own greed and corruption, and to fatten the wallets of those who have purchased their viewpoint. And had government not been instrumental in mapping today's economic fiasco, then yes, perhaps these are unnecessary entitlements for seniors.
Yet I hear little said about reducing the entitlements going to illegal immigrants, corporations, other nations, or multigenerational public assistance families. Groups who have contributed little or nothing to bankroll their entitlements.
Let's be honest, we all take advantage of the systems created by our "leaders" to put a little something extra in our pockets.
But the programs are becoming more unbalanced every day! When I was young, it was drummed into my head that socialism and communism were not the paths to democracy. 58,000 American lives were lost in Vietnam to stop the spread of communism ... the so-called domino effect.
Well, it appears one of those tiles fell on our shores as America is fast leaning toward that form of government. Well, not quite, in a pure communistic society everyone is expected to contribute something. Communism's best friend, socialism, is a more fitting word.
Sadly, I do not see "Hope and Change" on the horizon. Washington, most state capitols, and the intelligentsia continue full steam with their liberal agendas.
I am reminded of the kid on the playground many years ago who gave the other kids candy and baseball cards to be his friend. The entire welfare system, including corporate welfare, must be brought back to reality. Foreign welfare, or foreign aid as they would call it, should be eliminated entirely.
The absurdity in all issues, at all levels of government needs to end now! We are living the manuscript for "The Rise and Fall of the American Empire."
What Bob Dylan penned 45 years ago is relevant today:
Come senators, congressmen please heed the call
Don't stand in the doorway, don't block up the hall
For he who gets hurt, will be he who has stalled
There's a battle outside and it's ragin'
It'll soon shake your windows and rattle your walls
For the times, they are a changin'
William D. Arthurs Sr. lives in Jamestown.