Welfare and an Immigrant’s Story
October 1, 1996
Let me begin with my conclusion: the welfare state is inherently immoral. It is a system that steals from one to give to another. It allows one segment of society to live off of the rest of society. This process traps the poor, never allowing them to work their way out. It teaches people that to have more babies gets you even more governmental support. Many of these babies grow up to be snared by the same trap that enslaved their parents. It is a never-ending cycle. Eventually, those on welfare become addicted to government handouts. This addiction settles in on the addict, until ultimately, they believe that they have a right to the wealth of other people. The only way to break this cycle is to end the practices of modern day welfare, thus forcing people to work their way out of their current situation with little or no help from the government. It builds character, which builds better people, which builds a better nation.
Many will object to my conclusions. Typically, people will say things like: “But you don’t know what it’s like! Where is your compassion? Where is your sense of duty to your fellow man?”.
I must admit that thanks to my father and mother I do not know what it is like. But let me tell you what it is and was like at my house. My father works at Ford Motor Company in the blue-collar town of Lorain. He works between forty and sixty hours a week. He leaves for work in the early afternoons and is gone well into the early morning hours. Why does he do it? He does it voluntarily to support his family. But he is also forced to support other families. He has to give up about forty percent of his earnings to support people who do not support themselves.
My mom works in our home. She cleans, cooks, and does whatever else needs done around our house. In a feminist’s eyes, my mom is a failure. But I know the truth, as does my mom. There is more to having a family than just having kids. My mom has helped put my sister and I where we are today. She taught us to read good books. She showed us how to work hard. She always lets us know that she loves us. If there were more mothers out there like mine, society would be better for it.
There is a misconception in our country that only the affluent can afford to send their children to private schools. There are middle class families who are willing to sacrifice to get a better education for their children. My family is an example of this. My dad and mom sent my sister and me to a private school because they felt a public school education did not teach enough. We got no tax breaks for that. My dad paid the outrageously high public school tax, as well as tuition,and did not once complain because he knew that he was doing the right thing. A good education for his kids would be well worth the price he would pay.
My dad also pays union dues out of every check he receives from Ford. The union rewards him by investing the money in political candidates that only wish to further exploit my dad and take even more money. They also get on his case when he works too hard or does his job too well. When the all-powerful union planned to strike over not having enough vending machines, or not having a gym in which employees could work out, my dad thought about leaving the plant, but he didn’t because he realized that unions are a necessary evil. Even to this day my dad quietly pays his dues without complaining too much. My great-grandfather came over in the bowels of a boat from Czechoslovakia. They told him when he got here not to be a burden on the country. He never intended on being a burden. He soon got a job in the coal mines of Pennsylvainia holding spikes as men pounded them with sledge hammers. His hands were smashed too many times to count. He slept in a tool shed. Each night before
he went to sleep he would cut open his hands to drain out the pus so that he would be ready for a full day’s work the next day. On many cold, lonely nights he would cry himself to sleep and his tears would freeze on his face. Ironically, as he was slaving in one of the worst possible jobs, he was saving to bring his parents and siblings over to this land of great opportunity. My great-grandfather eventually earned enough through many jobs to buy a farm. At his funeral, my great-grandfather’s only request was for his family and friends surviving him to sing “God Bless America”, lest they forget the wealth and opportunity to be found here in our great nation.
My grandfather picked up from there. He was the first of the Policz family to serve his country in war. He was a member of the Army Anti-Aircraft Division and he fought in the Normandy invasion. Throughout his life he continued in the path of hard work blazed by his father before him, working as a coal miner, a construction worker, and finally settling at Ford in Lorain. He wanted his children to have an education, as he had dropped out after elementary school to start work. He got his wish: all of his children graduated from high school.
My dad, upon finishing high school, was soon drafted to go to Vietnam. He did not run, even though he disagreed with how the war was being waged by our bureaucrats. He went to serve his country, a country that had already given so much opportunity to our family. When he returned home he was spit on and forgotten by the very country he had gone to war for. Eventually, he too began working at Ford alongside his father. Soon he married my mom and after making sure they were financially prepared, they had me. Now I am the first of the Policz family to attend college.
We did not need, nor did we ask for welfare. My family started well below what today we call a poverty line. With determination and hard work through the generations we are where we are today. I’m not about to condone a system that wants to keep us where we are just to help people who will not help themselves. I do not recognize the right of others to claim the fruits of my labor. This is the side of welfare that I understand and know too well.
Everyday my dad picks up the weight of a family onto his strong shoulders and sets forth to provide for that family. But recently the government has told my father that he has to carry additional families that are not his own. They tell him it is his obligation. He continues to carry this heavy burden without complaining. But even now the great people of this nation, like my father, are beginning to give out under the weight of a system hell-bent on crushing itself. How soon before men like my father give up or wear out?
Rich Policz is an Ashbrook Scholar and a senior at Ashland University.