The Occasional Muse
My humble opinion on current events
August 28, 2004
A Nation of Snots
The headline in my local paper caught my
eye and interest:
Feds send Florida hurricane victim $1.69.
Sounded pretty stupid to me, so I read the
story. It seems that one Donald Seither, a 74-year-old retiree, asked the
Federal Emergency Management Agency to
send him a check to cope with a damaged roof, shattered windows and no
electricity, all courtesy of
Ever agreeable to dishing out other
people's money, FEMA agreed and sent him a check a week later, for a
whopping one dollar and sixty-nine cents. Why would FEMA send such a
ridiculously small amount? According to the story, "It's a quirk in the
system intended to provide serious relief for those whose lives have been
disrupted or destroyed. FEMA says for many, a small sum is better than
nothing." Mr. Seither did not qualify for a larger amount because he has
A small sum doesn't help Mr. Seither repair
his roof, though. But that's not the point. Says Butch Ducote, a FEMA
spokesman, "I know $1.69 sounds ridiculous, but if the guy seems entitled
to it we're going to cut the check. I can assure you that checks that
small rarely happen, but it does show you the effort."
FEMA's mission is to "provide serious
relief" for the "uninsured and underinsured in the aftermath of major
disasters." It should go without saying that one dollar and sixty-nine
cents is not serious relief. But the spokesman gives the game away. Anyone
who feels entitled to other people's money will get some. It's not about
providing relief but placating a person's sense of entitlement. It's about
feelings and making an effort.
But what relief does a $1.69 bring? Back to
the story: "The token relief carries an unintended consequence. For
residents who spent much of the past two weeks living amid rubble without
electricity, it can feel less like help and more like a slap in the face."
And my favorite part, the esteemed Mr.
Seither's reaction to the check: "I fell to the floor and started to cry."
Then he called FEMA "in a rage" and
demanded an explanation. He was told the check could buy a gallon of gas
for his generator. But that did not console him. "I said, 'Evidently you
don't live in Florida.' Because gas here is $1.83."
This story is very wrong on many levels.
FEMA shouldn't be handing out checks just because someone asks, for one
thing. And why does Mr. Seither need a handout when he has insurance?
But the main thing that strikes me is a
grown man's response to not getting his way. He threw a fit. Fell to the
floor and bawled. This is not adult, responsible behavior. It is the
action of a spoiled, juvenile, ungrateful brat.
This is one of the more insidious effects
of the welfare state. It turns a population into a collection of whining
and demanding children with perpetual demands who refuse to grow up and
take care of themselves. Those who resist and do grow up are then
forced to provide for the rest, leaving them with fewer resources to take
care of their own families. Politicians then vie for the votes of these
adult children by encouraging that sense of entitlement with more programs
and handouts, placing even more demands on the producing adults. The
problem perpetuates itself with no solution in sight. In fact, it's barely
recognized as a problem in the first place. Those who point out the
problem are called selfish and greedy, while the politicians who take
money from others are called generous and caring.
A nation of sniveling snots cannot stand.
It cannot defeat terrorism. It cannot govern itself. It cannot remain
free. I hope that when enough people finally realize it, it's not too