My mom and I were talking on the phone last night and the subject of the Stimulus Plan came up. My mom is all for helping those who need it. Those who have lost their jobs in this horrible economy and are now in danger of losing their homes and those who have battled catastrophic illness and have been unable to work and are now in danger of losing their homes. She has great empathy for those who have worked hard and, through no fault of their own, are now in deep financial doo doo. Those who overextended themselves and bought houses they couldn't afford and paid only interest on their loans for 5 years? No sympathy at all from mom.
But if we are honest, don't we all feel that way? Why have I worked so hard for the last 20 years, saving, keeping my credit card debt low, buying the car and the house I could afford and get nothing from this plan if others have done it wrong and get to keep their stuff? Stuff that I will not be able to afford in my lifetime?
Well, life's not really fair, is it?
But our conversation made me think, made me consider and made me draw some conclusions.
It is a lot like the man on the street holding a sign that says, "Homeless." Is he? Maybe he lives in a million dollar mansion on the water, drives a BMW and shops in the more expensive stores that I don't even walk through. Maybe he lives in his car with his wife and their 2 children, one of which is still in diapers. If I give him $5, he may buy caviar, or he may buy Cheerios and powdered milk. The point is, I have no way of knowing. So what should I do?
I should give him the $5. I should give him money or food, because that is the human (or Christian, if you prefer) thing to do. If I give him money with an open, loving heart and he doesn't need it. Or he spends it on crack cocaine, that isn't really my problem, is it? My heart and my conscience are clear. I have done a nice thing to help my fellow human being. If he spends that money incorrectly or inappropriately or doesn't really need it, that is his problem. I do believe that eventually he will pay for that deceit.
This stimulus is the same way. People in this country truly NEED this money, without it they will be standing on the street corner. People need this money to stay in their homes, to continue their health insurance, to feed their families. If some people don't need the money and end up with it anyway, then that should be on their conscience, not mine and not the governments.
And if the government has to turn into an investigative agency and spend the entire stimulus trying to determine who does or doesn't need it, it didn't do a bit of good, did it?
We are going to have to learn to trust our government again, to trust our neighbor again, to trust ourselves again. Or we can just give the entire country up as a lost cause now.