The Price of a Handout

This is part two of a story I began some time ago entitled Free Money Fairytales. Consider it the prequel.

Once upon a time demoralizing tyranny and the exhilarating prospect of freedom collided; a combustible power was unleashed. It propelled a nation forward with unequaled promise. The challenges were nearly as fierce as the people themselves, but instead of fainting at the prospect of what lie ahead, they picked up the implements at hand; ingenuity, tenacity, hard work and deep faith in God; they forged ahead.

They knew that to shrink back, complain or wait for a rescue would be their demise. The responsibility for their future was their own. Challenges indeed rose like giants, but these people, instead of protesting their implausible state of affairs, engaged and befriended those challenges, which they discovered were actually inspiration and the “strength that would be” in disguise. Guided by the rule of law and the hand of God, they were stirred to greatness, and they built upon this tenuous place prosperous lives and an exceptional nation that would profoundly mark history with the implements of light and freedom.

Self-reliance woke them before dawn and furrowed brows of enterprise worked with them all day and into many a late night, establishing prosperity from dreams. This principled people was no stranger to the woodshed; neither in their efforts to keep warm nor in matters of discipline. Their children were not handed their legacy as an entitlement, but earned it working side by side with their parents through the sweat of their labor, the kind that produced something of quality, both in the product of their hands and the integrity of their hearts. The sacrifices of their parents nurtured them and proved an example worthy of emulation.

Guided by enduring principles, their tenacity chiseled strong arms, hammered quick minds and drilled solid character into the foundation of their lives, which would serve as firm ground for this new nation to stand upon. Joining with friends and family, the pioneers of our country carefully guarded their new Republic, understanding it was their responsibility to make something meaningful of the rights granted by their creator and protected by the blood of patriots. They clung to their families and worked side by side with their neighbors. Hope met ingenuity and purposeful effort, and together they created something beautiful and fulfilling. They were close enough to the backside of tyranny to keep their hands, feet and hearts engaged, so as never again to become entangled by those deceptive chains.

They called themselves America; they were liberty enlightening the world.

Decades turned into centuries and the nation’s prosperity remained unparalleled. Personal liberty, it turns out, was everything our founders dreamed it would be. America shone in the hearts of it’s people and beyond as a beacon casting light across the oceans and into other lands, offering the way to freedom and an ever-better life.

Yet, because those once heavy chains became clouded by the mist of the past, new generations grew up with a foggy understanding of who they were, what it had taken to attain what they had, and even more importantly, dimmed the understanding that they must work hard to protect and keep even the basics of liberty. The principles that guided them were subtly and slowly eroded, replaced and rewritten. Over time many began to believe they were immune to danger because of the opportunity and prosperity that they had come to know. They mistakenly believed their status kept their footing sure.

Chains out of sight – tyranny out of mind.

Meanwhile, the stories of their heritage were being reworked into fables, myths and half-truths around them by patient and calculating counter forces. The principles of freedom, while enduring and powerful, were misstated, reinterpreted and tweaked by those forces to bring succeeding generations into their fold. These forces took their time and preyed upon the innocent and the young. The transformation and incremental changes crept in, and little did people realize that the truth and power that brought them to this place of personal freedom and prosperity could be overtaken, merely because they dropped their guard. Once they failed in their responsibility to know history, to remain vigilant and to maintain strength of character, body and mind, they were an easy mark. Tyranny never crossed their minds, and they never saw it inching forward.

We can give it this much…tyranny knows patience. When the people fail to be watchful and hold their government accountable, and when they fail to maintain their character, and are willing to relinquish their personal freedom for favors and security or certain comforts, they will become enslaved.

This newest generations of Americans became less inclined to break a sweat or sully their manicures or allow the wrinkles of arduous effort to crease their botoxed foreheads. They dared not risk the dark circles of late night disciplines to reap a reward; because golly if that didn’t seem like a whole lot of trouble. Besides, they’d had a hard go of things and were feeling kinda down and didn’t think they should be expected to have to face hardship or slog through at their own risk or with any sacrifice to their own personal treasure. You don’t know what they’ve been through, they might tell you. They still want a piece of that great American pie, they just don’t want to have to break a sweat, break into their own piggy bank or break a nail to get it.

Enter a sinister figure disguised as a kindly government program. It sees this manufactured distress, and out of a supposed great “compassion” has come to help. Hearing the struggle in the heartache and the cries of those wanting what others invest in and work hard for, this ever-morphing government takes note of the hands held out and longs to fill more and more of them with goodies. (Just you never mind the little strings attached to those goodies, they might say…strings coincidentally, that if followed to the other end would be found tied to some rather disturbing pretexts. After all, it’s tough out there!) “Awww,” the ‘kind’ government says, “you shouldn’t have it so hard. Here, come close and take this beautiful red apple from my benevolent hand. By the way, did I mention it’s FREE? All you need is one bite.”

Perhaps you’ve heard how that story turns out.

So what’s the difference between the poison apple and the poison grant pen (welfare check, subsidized housing, healthcare, school breakfasts, lunches and dinners, cell phones, internet and mortgage bailouts, tuition, childcare…the list goes on interminably. Look up all that the “benevolent” hand of the government hands out these days. It’s alarming.) It’s just one of those pesky questions that won’t stop nagging me. This kind of “free” is actually an insidious form of slavery to which the recipients seem blind, a slavery to which they go willingly for the price of a handout. It is the antithesis of what those patriots’ of old paid for in sweat and blood. Trying to be our mommy, our daddy and our rich uncle, an overprotective and overbearing government succeeds only in raising up a weak population without a moral compass or an understanding of the faith of our fathers.

The great American experiment is being twisted by counter forces into something perverse, and the numbers of soft, aimless, free-money recipients swells. These counter forces, having belittled and undermined our rich history and work ethic have succeeded in reducing the number of God-fearing, enterprising and hard-working people of character and strength. As this population dwindles to near-minority status, our nation’s foundation is left weakened indeed.

This is the scene I’m led to ponder as the reader of another tale I’m living in the middle of. Yes, the lady with the poison apple bears a certain resemblance to the real life characters which make up Lake Park’s Free Money Fairytale. Fairytale indeed. The problem with fairytales is that sooner or later you get to “The End” and reality kicks in.

It begins as all good fairytales do with a “once upon a time”…

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