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    Red wine and whiskey / All the ti-i-i-i-ime

    Bill Whittle has his latest essay up. It’s finely written, and I don’t mean to take anything away from it when I say that it’s a shame everything he says in it isn’t so obvious as not to be worth mention. I grew up in a working-class family. Of my parents’ closest dozen or so friends, someone was always laid off, or needed an expensive hospital stay, or had his car break down on him. People helped each other out, and everyone got turns at both giving and receiving generosity.

    You took assistance with gratitude when you needed it, but it was shameful to be a permanent charity case, and there was no sense of entitlement to other people’s largess. One of the (many) times my father was laid off by Bethlehem Steel, he took three part-time jobs–including one at the 7-Eleven–to keep us afloat. As soon as we returned to relative solvency, my parents were back in the group that was inviting people from church over for dinner when they were in straitened circumstances. That’s what you did.

    I know that losing your Rust Belt job is not the same as going through a hurricane. I’m less trying to compare the situations than making a point about the mindset. I’ve spent my entire adult life bitching about the entitlement mentality in America, but this past week has made my jaw drop, as person after person interviewed on the news said, essentially, “Where’s the government with our Carr’s Water Biscuits and Evian?” Some of these people had their children standing right by them. Great lesson from Mom and Dad imparted there, huh? There’s nothing embarrassing about not providing for your own kids as long as you’re EXTRA CRABBY to show you mean business when you try to get the government to do it.

    And, yes, I know: some of the complaints were from people who had been told to wait in location X for a bus that didn’t arrive, and some people had newborns in maternity wards that they couldn’t bring themselves to be separated from until the last minute, and yet other people had bedridden elders to take into account. Obviously, I’m not criticizing people who were making a good-faith effort to fulfill their responsibilities. They can be forgiven for happening to be caught by CNN in an unguarded moment as they were forced to make wrenching choices on the fly. I also know that I’m asking for trouble as a childless bourgeois gay guy passing judgment on how some parents run their households.

    All I can say is, I grew up around humble people who were constantly on the lookout for un-self-aggrandizing ways to serve others and who did everything in their power to provide for themselves before expecting handouts. I know those attitudes when I see them. They’ve certainly been in evidence this past week, but much less than one might have expected. It’s sad.

    2 Responses to “Red wine and whiskey / All the ti-i-i-i-ime”

    1. John says:

      “I also know that I’m asking for trouble as a childless bourgeois gay guy passing judgment on how some parents run their households.”

      Why? I complained about this before I had kids. Were my opinions different then? No. Did the human detritus placed into society by this attitude affect me any less because I did not have kids? Well, yes and no. No, I personally still put up with the crime and pay for the subsidies. Yes, because now there’s an impact on my own kids that magnifies my anger. But you also have an especial interest because, short of adoption, the only way you are going to influence the future is through other people’s kids. So they’d better raise them right, right?

      I’m tired of the chickenhawk argument being used all the time in all sorts of places. If I don’t experience something, I can’t comment on it? I might get a few details wrong, but does that mean my entire argument is necessarily invalid? Or does it mean I’m bringing a fresh perspective and the clarity that distance brings to the issue?

    2. Sean Kinsell says:

      Well, I wasn’t saying I deserved trouble, only that I was asking for it in the sense that experience tells me I might get it.

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