The Conversation

Whatever Happened To The Concept Of Shame?

Lisa said:

Painting all SNAP users as irresponsible "slobs" doesn't really endear conservatives to the people who really are hurting right now.  It also doesn't do anything to offer solutions to the real problems with the program.

I certainly didn't mean to imply that all SNAP card users are fat slobs. I thought I made a point of saying that I believe in a safety net for those of us who are temporarily down on our luck, and those who can't help themselves. 

But am I not even allowed to tweak those who abuse the system by loading their carts up with expensive items?

I don't think we can have a proper discussion about entitlements without bringing up the concept of shame, which is in short supply for too many people. 

I would submit to you that there SHOULD be a stigma attached to accepting government handouts. It used to be the chief motivator for getting people off of government dependency, and that was a good thing for the country as a whole. It wasn't great for the individual going through the tough time, but it helped motivate him to get off the dole. 

In the absence of shame, we have generations of cradle to grave Welfare dependents who think nothing of sucking off the government teat their whole entire lives.  I'm sorry, but I have a healthy contempt for those players.

When considering today's entitlement recipients, I often think about the movie, "Cinderella Man" about James J. Braddock, the Depression era boxer who went through some tough times, but triumphed in the end. 

In it we find a standout sequence that elegantly and efficiently dramatizes the social and cultural value of shame, and demonstrates why we miss it so much today. Injury-plagued, semi-retired from boxing, and relying on scant work as a longshoreman, Braddock is depicted living with his wife and small children in a dingy tenement in New Jersey, splitting a single ham steak four ways for supper. But even then, he has too much pride to tap the government for help. It is only after the utility man shuts the heat off, and Braddock’s wife farms the children out to a relative for fear they are slipping into pneumonia, that the fighter relents.

If you haven't seen the movie, the scenes where he has to accept government help, and pass that hat around the sitting room full of his old boxing associates, are gut-wrenching. 

But there was never a man more motivated to make it on his own, and when he finally did, he returned every penny of the Welfare money he took.

Compare that to too many of today's welfare dependents.

My concern is more about what this lack of shame is doing to our culture than whether my less than diplomatic words hurt the Republican brand.


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