by Rebecca Mallory
“Everyone should be required to take economics and civics!” If I had a dime for every time my dad said that to one of his 9 children, I’d be rich. My dad was an economics and math major in college which unfortunately, didn’t completely transfer to all his offspring. Not sure I would have learned the lessons from taking a course as much as I have gaining life experiences. An Econ course may have proved an easier journey though!
When I went to college, I guess my family had money. That sounds dumb but I really thought everyone lived like I did. It was 1975 and my dad sent me to school with a brand new Mercury Cougar, credit cards and no intention of making me work for my tuition. He grew up during the Depression and didn’t want his daughters or one son to have to sacrifice like he did, so he gave us free stuff. I guess he thought we’d appreciate it as much as he would have. Result? Well, it’s been long enough that I can now barely admit my spoiled attitude and lack of appreciation for that awesome gift. I basically squandered it. No skin in the game equaled little interest. I loved college life, don’t get me wrong. The social part was great! Late nights and little responsibility… I excelled at that!
I majored in English (basically so that I didn’t have to take math) which, much to my chagrin, was a pre-law major. It was hard! I skated by putting in about as much effort as I had paid for. I’d be in the middle of some Early American Lit class and get up and leave and go snow skiing! Honestly! I am having trouble telling the truth about this. It’s embarrassing and shameful. I finally graduated because every time I’d call my dad in tears and tell him I was coming home because college was just too hard, he’d say, “Well, don’t come to this house without a diploma. You don’t have a place here without that.” So I’d wipe my tears and blow my nose again and sign up for another semester. Thank heaven my dad was unrelenting and I had enough respect for him to stick with it. His name should be on that diploma as much as mine. He taught me that our family, under no circumstances, took money from the government. We never even thought about it. He made us feel that we had every right and capacity to accomplish anything on our own using our own God-given talents and intellect. If we truly needed help, we were to look to family or our church; never the government. Unfortunately, I guess his generosity proved too generous.
It wasn’t until I got married (about a year after graduation) that the reality and parable of the “Free Stuff” hit me between the eyes. I married the greatest guy ever. But he wasn’t my dad. He made me get a job! And what’s worse?? My very first check for $97.00, that I immediately spent on clothes at the mall? He made me take them all back because we had something called “bills” to pay. Can you believe that? Well long story short, both of these great heroes of mine taught me priceless life lessons about basic economics and life. It is human nature to not appreciate things that are just given to us. How do you attach a value to something you didn’t have to work for? My last year of college, I worked my head off (mainly to get out of Dodge! I was so tired of school!) but I began to see the incalculable value of an education. Dave and I scraped and did without for the first 20 plus years of our marriage. If we didn’t have it, we went without. It never entered our heads to put it on a credit card or ask for freebies from the government. Taking free stuff used to be embarrassing to admit. Boy, how things have changed!
It’s no secret that government dependency is at an all-time high. It’s shocking to see the statistics compared to the ‘70’s when one in 50 Americans were dependent on government assistance. Today, one in 7 Americans cannot take care of themselves without some government welfare. What happened?
The bottom line is either freedom or free stuff. It’s that simple. Even the extremely conservative university that I attended in the late ‘70’s just recently ran their own presidential poll and voted a Socialist as their number one presidential pick. Many university students and young people think a socialist government would be great. (For an explanation on Socialism please see my archived post entitled “Socialism, the Big Lie” Feb 11, 2016) In the past few years, it’s as if the government has made a conscious and accelerated effort to enroll as many people as possible on some sort of government welfare; be it food stamps, free housing, free health care, etc. It’s way beyond helping the poor or the downtrodden, which we as a society have a moral obligation to assist. Somehow the mindset has changed to that of entitlement or “Hey, it’s available so I might as well take advantage of it.” With no thought of who is paying for it or the real meaning of free. We pay for free stuff with our freedom. We often sell our dignity for cheap trinkets.
Government dependency robs us of our freedoms. Other than temporary situations that have a definite end game, long term dependence cripples those it ensnares and puts our choice and accountability into someone else’s hands. Who really wants that? With so much information on the internet and other sources, it wouldn’t take long to find the truth about the devastating effects of government dependency and how it leads to nations and societies crumbling and in bondage. Sound dramatic? Research Venezula, China, Denmark, Canada or similar countries that offer free stuff. Something’s got to give and that something is freedom and personal dignity.
Embarrassing as it was to share my own story of the effects of free stuff, I know, to a small degree, what the results are. I lived it and wasted money and resources when I could have chosen a great and priceless education. What I would give to relive those years learning from great professors and leaders and perhaps even drop in on an Econ class. My dad would have loved that. Happy Father’s Day in a few days to the two men I love and admire most in the world. Thanks for your gifts of tough love.