, Corbin, KY

January 2, 2014

Let’s strive to be better people this new year

The Times-Tribune

CORBIN — It’s amazing.

Another year has begun, and I am ready for something different.

And I’m hoping that Kentuckians will want something different, too.

I read an article this week that listed Kentucky as one of 11 states which have more folks living on welfare than who are getting up and going to work.

How does this work and make the state of Kentucky ready to start a new year with a bright future?

It doesn’t.

Let’s be logical for one second — if you get in the car, truck or moped and go to work, do you then cash your check on payday and freely hand out money to strangers on the street?

The bulk of us do not, would not and certainly can’t afford to.

And why would we — they certainly didn’t earn those paychecks that we need to pay bills and care for our families.

So how is a system supposed to survive, let alone thrive, when those with their hands out exceed those who earn the money for which they beg?

It can’t.

I’m not sitting here and pointing fingers at everybody who uses welfare programs. There are many people who need those programs to survive and feed their children.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with that — I know I don’t mind helping in that situation.

But I also see quite a few people on those programs who flat-out do not need them — they abuse them, and without conscience.

Look, I’ve used food stamps before — on two separate occasions. I didn’t want to, but I was broke, between jobs and homeless, albeit briefly, and simply needed help. During both of those times, I used the stamps for less than six months, and then got myself back on track to buy my own food.

And that, right there, makes the difference — I needed a hand-up, not a hand-out. And too many of these welfare recipients are like life-long politicians — they’ve gotten used to “getting their ‘fair’ share” out of the sweat of the work force and are clueless as to how to earn their own money.

I think it’s time that the working population start seriously looking at who’s running the show. It’s time we demand our politicians, at least at the state level, to start looking at ways to curb welfare abuse.

One way is to implement a return-to-work program where folks signed up for welfare are done so with the knowledge that recipient will find work. The best method would be getting those persons through a career-training course to get them employed and self-sufficient.

A second way is to drug-test welfare recipients. I’ve said this before, and received a great deal of flack over it — but in reality, if you’re not doing anything wrong, then it shouldn’t matter about getting drug tested. Yes, it’s inconvenient. Yes, it’s an invasion of privacy. I’ve heard all of the hollow excuses.

But it’s also true that “idle hands are the devil’s workshop,” meaning that those who can work but choose not to have to do something with their time.

And too often those activities are centered around drugs.

If it’s not doing drugs, it’s selling them. If not selling, then manufacturing and distributing. If not that, then it’s stealing to buy more, or sell more, or make more. It’s a vicious, dangerous and terminal quagmire that only seems to continue to worsen instead of improve.

And no government program is going to be the ultimate solution — throwing money at the drug problem only seems to exacerbate it. Our government has spent trillions since Nancy Reagan began spearheading the “Just Say No” program in the 1980s when crack became all the rage.

And yet the drug problems remain — and are much, much worse.

So let’s do something different this new year of 2014.

Let’s stand up and start learning what we can do to make our communities better, and more attractive, and less drug-infested — instead of getting online to complain about it.

Let’s push our leaders to do something more besides argue, point fingers, name-call, and shift blame — instead of ignoring our right to choose who runs the show.

But change like that starts at home — so here’s what we really need to start with.

Let’s teach our children how to take pride in their lives and their achievements, and encourage them to be better people and positive citizens — instead of giving them a remote control or a joystick and turning them into mindless, thoughtless couch potatoes.

Let’s teach those same children the pride of work, and of earning money and the value of that earned money — instead of handing them anything they whine loud enough for just to shut them up.

Let’s ultimately strive to take some personal responsibility for our actions — instead of blaming another race, another gender, another person, another ancestor, or another ex-whatever.

If we strive to be better people, then a better community we will make, together.

May you and yours have a healthy, safe and lucrative year.

John Ross is a staff writer for the Times-Tribune. He can be reached at