Tuesday, March 3

Dear Presiden Obama

(Laura from Omaha, NE sent me this letter that she is sending to President Obama. I think it sums up nicely the way a lot of conservatives are feeling right now).

Dear President Obama,

“The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who are not.” Thomas Jefferson.

“It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in man.” Psalm 118:8

President Obama, I do not trust you or your democrat led Congress. I do not agree with a majority of the policies and beliefs that you have. I am certain I never will agree with you. I am concerned about a myriad of topics, but have chosen to focus on one in this letter. You need to know how the citizens of this country feel about the items you are signing into legislation.

These items are being passed swiftly without even allowing taxpayers and the people serving in CONGRESS to READ THEM before they are voted on. That is underhanded and sneaky. Anyone who condones and/or participates in this behavior is not fit to serve the United States of America in any form. They should not be trusted to make the decisions for our nation. I do not trust any lawmaker who would not allow a citizen of this country to research and gain a full understanding of how our tax dollars are being spent before the fact. We are slowly learning the details after the bill was signed into law. I know I am extremely upset about a majority of the spending included in the “stimulus” package. I also know I am not the only one.

With the new multi-billion dollar economic stimulus plan you signed into law recently, welfare cuts made in the 90’s have been replaced with a huge increase in welfare benefits available to states. I believe this increase in benefits is promoting current welfare recipients to continue receiving benefits. It will motivate more people to do what is necessary to receive benefits (conceive fatherless dependents). Where is the positive motivation for people to support themselves and their families? Why are you rewarding people for behavior that does not benefit personal advancement? Why are you perpetuating a vicious cycle of dependency? Why are you going to punish my family and every family that has played by the rules?

I have absolutely no problem helping a person who is in need of temporary assistance. You never know when you will be down on your luck and need TEMPORARY help from outside sources such as a local food bank, a homeless shelter or as a last resort, the government. As long as you are ACTIVELY pursuing a solution to solve your problem (employment, job training, college, etc.), it is ok for people needing help for a short time.

I teach in a school with a high rate of poverty and I am appalled at the slovenly, entitled behavior I see from my students and their parents. When you keep giving people handouts with no expectation of their advancement and you do not hold them accountable for the benefits they receive, you are promoting the cycle of poverty. There are kids having kids in the neighborhood where I work and no one is showing them a way out. As an educator, I can talk until I am blue in the face about the importance of internal motivation and how vital a post-secondary education (I understand that college is not for everyone, but some kind of post-secondary training is) is for success. When those students walk out the door of the school and return to their environment and see what their culture deems acceptable, all of my talk was for naught.

As a president who prides himself on bringing people HOPE and CHANGE, I find it ironic that you are not doing anything to give them HOPE and CHANGE. Your policies are working to keep them entrenched in their current poverty situation. All they are getting is a new and improved government check (more benefits) with no strings attached. These people need to see from their families, local, state and national leaders that welfare benefits are a TEMPORARY fix for a TEMPORARY situation, not a lifetime pass for a ride on the government gravy train. The true goal of welfare needs to be to help families move to employment and self-sufficiency and off of LONG TERM dependence on government assistance.

Dr. Adrian Rogers said "You cannot legislate the poor into freedom by legislating the wealthy out of freedom. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that my dear friend, is about the end of any nation. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it."

My family prides itself on being self-sufficient. However, the new welfare policy YOU signed into office is threatening to take that freedom away from us in the form of higher taxes. And don’t tell me my taxes are not going to be affected by this piece of legislation. How are you planning on paying for this massive “economic stimulus plan” if not for raising taxes? You are robbing Peter to pay Paul and that is not ethical or responsible. You are reaching further and further into the pockets of average people who are also struggling, but are responsible enough to take accountability for their life and their problems.

My husband and I both come from lower-middle class families. We did not have extravagant childhoods. We are both the first generation in our families to graduate from college and I went on to get my master’s degree. We work hard to support our growing family and have our basic needs met. We have late model vehicles, a comfortable but average house in a nice neighborhood and we enjoy spending time doing simple things as a family and with friends. Again, we work hard for what we have and we work hard to keep it. If we are ever in the situation where we need TEMPORARY assistance, the government will be the last place we turn. We take great pride in our ability to provide for our family. How are you going to build pride in people who are used to having everything given to them? How are you going to build an internal motivation factor for them to work to support themselves?

I reiterate, the focus of welfare should be a temporary solution to a short-term problem. The bill you signed into law does very little to promote self-sufficiency or personal growth for the people receiving welfare benefits. In order to bring people true HOPE, you must offer them a way to help themselves from the dark depths of poverty and welfare dependency, not make it easier for them to fall into the poverty cycle.

I am sure you have heard the phrase “Give a man a fish and he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime.” President Obama, please stop handing people fish and start giving people HOPE. TRUE HOPE that their future can be better than their past. They can learn new skills; they can get a job; they can support their family and not rely on government assistance.

I’d like to share a bible verse that is a personal favorite. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11. Help the needy citizens of your country find TRUE HOPE and a FUTURE where they are not dependent on the government to support their lifestyle.

“I am doing good for the poor, but I differ in opinion of the mean. I think the best way of doing good to the poor is not making them easy in their poverty, but leading or driving them out of it,” Benjamin Franklin.

Laura from Omaha, NE


Jeff said...

I've seen the light. I'm convinced. My family is currently in the top income tax bracket. I'm tired of being robbed so that the government can keep taxes low for the middle class and provide unemployment benefits to the millions losing their jobs. I propose we take matters into our own hands and fix the inequity. If you're in a lower tax bracket, please send me a check for 5% of your gross income. Also, if you lose your job, I expect everyone to refuse wasteful government assistance. Oh, and for you seniors out there on medicare, get your own health insurance and stop being so dependent on the government. Thank God the Republicans are standing up for justice.

happyathome said...

Thank you Laura for writing the letter, clarifying what many people feel right now....maybe not Jeff. Welfare should be a temporary assistance, not a permanent income.

And Jeff, not sure why you had to point out about the Republicans standing up for justice, you are assuming Laura is a Republican which she did not state anywhere in this letter. I know several who are Republican, Democratic or Unaffiliated who feel the same way.

Jeff said...

I wonder if Laura knows that the stimulus bill did not eliminate or waive work requirements or time limits for recipients. Oh well, mere details.

Since Laura likes Bible verses:
"Every prudent man acts with knowledge: but a fool displays his folly." Proverbs 13:16

stacey said...

This is a wonderful letter.

And Jeff, not sure why, but you are being unnecessarily bitter and mean to Laura. Even if you disagree, you need to learn to play nice.

Melissa said...

Jeff has finally seen the light!

Woo-hoo! Oh Happy Day! I knew he would figure it all out one of these days.....

Jeff said...

If by "wonderful" you mean "inaccurate", then yes I agree, it's a wonderful letter.

Bitter and mean is what liberals do best, but I'll try to be nicer, especially if all of the good conservatives send me a tax refund check. :)

Stephan said...

I think there is one point we should all be able to agree on (well two, but I'll get to that later).

With this stimulus package, the welfare responsibility of the states will be increased, unless of course, the state refuses the money. I do not know how they run things in Pennsylvania or Nebraska but here in Texas we run a very efficient surplus. If take the federal government's one time injection of welfare funding, our state is required by the bill to continue the funding from state funds after the federal money runs out.

Plain and simple, this would put our state into the red. We could then expect higher property taxes (which for a good number of people in Houston are already outrageous) and maybe a sales tax increase. So essentially, the people we are "helping" have to pay more money when they buy things like toilet paper and school supplies. Great way to help them.

The other part that I think we can agree on is that simply giving people money without any kind of expectation of change on their part is a little foolish. I am not talking about donations to charities or giving cash to the guy on the corner, I am talking about handouts.

If you didn't know, I recently changed jobs to work at a local school district and Jess is a teacher at a local high school. We are both everyday witnesses to some of the waste that the system has. A majority of students are getting free or reduced cost lunches and some of them are getting free or reduced cost breakfasts. I have no problem in feeding children, what I do have a problem with is parents who rather than feed their children, go out and spend their money elsewhere and then expect the school to take care of their kids. We aren't running a babysitting operation here.

I was appalled to hear Jess's stories of kids saying that they did not want Hurricane Ike to hit and the school to close because they would not get lunch, that makes me sick to my stomach. But, we do nothing to combat the issue, we just fix the symptoms. I could go on and on about the education system and welfare, but I'll save that for my own blog post.

Jeff said...

Wow, Stephen, did you really change jobs? I had no idea. Does this mean less travel? Congratulations! It's nice to hear about talented people putting their skills to work in the public sector. Hopefully it doesn't become too frustrating.

With respect to the stimulus bill and welfare funding, my understanding is that the primary objection is the change to the federal funding formula for states. The bill changes the formula to the way it was pre-welfare reform, meaning it is based on caseloads instead of the state's success in decreasing welfare rolls, which flips the incentive and encourages states to have a greater number of welfare cases. Now, that may be way too simplified and I've read where the practical effect of the bill is only to provide temporary help for states experiencing dramatic increases in unemployment in a declining economy. It's also a quick way to push money into the economy through people who are most likely to spend it. I'm not aware of the mandate you're talking about requiring states to maintain funding levels after the federal funds run out. I know Jindel has talked about it, so it very well could end up being a greater burden on state budgets, but I'll admit to being a little suspicous of Republican claims these days.

Jeff said...

Getting back to the issue of the expanded unemployment benefits amounting to a future unfunded mandate, if this is a concern for certain governors, why can't the states just just phase-out the program or tie its existence to the federal funds? In other words, I'm not aware of any federal mandate that says if the states accept federal money they have to permanently expand the federally-funded portion of unemployment benefits. Why not just stop the program when the federal government stops funding it? What am I missing?

Stephan said...


There is definitely less work travel but I hope to keep up the leisure stuff.

Parts of the stimulus package, as I understand it, would require a change in Texas law that would expand eligibility for unemployment benefits and change the benefit calculation (to bigger amounts) as well as other welfare calculations. Of course the state Legislature here could vote for the money but any law passed to make us eligible for the money, mentioned above, could be vetoed.

However, if the changes are voted through or the strings attached to the money are met, the funding would have to continue even after the stimulus ran out, forcing the state pick up the tab.

It's essentially the expansion/change of state government by holding out a carrot.

I am sure Texas will take some of the money, the real question is what exactly the affects will be on state budgets in the long run.

Jeff said...

I'm not so sure that's correct. As I understand it, nothing prevents a state from enacting the legislation (if necessary) with sunset provisions tied to when the stimulus money runs out. I'm not aware of any federal mandate that requires the states to continue the federal eligibility requirements after the funding stops. I could totally be wrong or missing another aspect of this, but that's my understanding. Perhaps we should see if we can find an authority (preferably not Rush Limbaugh or Nancy Pelosi) that can shed some light on the issue.

Stephan said...

It appears you are correct. I cannot find anything that says there are provisions in the stimulus to keep the states funding projects. However, it does appear that the states would have to enact legislation to change law, which could take years to reverse, even after the money is gone.

Sorry for jumping the gun on the provisions, the way the CNN article read there were things attached to the package.

Jeff said...

Enacting legislation to revert back to the original rules could be difficult, which is why I'd think the enabling legislation would have an automatic sunset provision so that they don't have to go through the legislative process on the backend. Having said that, though, I can understand why states are reluctant to mess with their unemployment eligibility requirements. My preference would have been to provide the extra funding within each state's existing laws, except maybe to extend the benefit period to reflect the dismal job market. But, when you have Nancy Pelosi writing the original bill, you're bound to end up a lot of extras in there.

A bigger problem with the welfare provisions of the bill, in my opinion, is the change to the funding formula that I mentioned above. It's a fairly technical issue that I don't completely understand, but it has welfare reform proponents up in arms. I think I understand the government's rationale for changing the formula during an economic crisis like this, but I think it's a problem that there isn't a mechanism for the change to expire. That's the most troubling part of the welfare provisions, in my opinion.

Jeff said...

By the way, I've been doing a little leisure reading on the cap and trade issue. It's actually pretty interesting. There are certainly some major pitfalls to consider. I'm not sure if Obama will be able to get it through Congress. What do you know about Europe's experience with it? It sounds like phase 1 wasn't very successful but phase 2 is going better. I assume you're not in favor of the cap and trade concept at all. What do you see as the major drawbacks?

Stephan said...

I think welfare is a whole problem in and of itself. It is one of those things that looks great on paper, starts out wonderfully and then takes a nosedive as it goes on.

It's biggest problem is the weaning off of users.

I am not happy with the changes that you described because essentially there is no incentive to take care of welfare cases since the money keeps coming in based on the number of cases.

I'll write up something on cap and trade soon, I just have to finish up some work this afternoon.


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