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Jun 29

If You Want To Help, Stop Giving Me Free Stuff

If You Want To Help, Stop Giving Me Free Stuff

by Mark Stevens

Every college student knew a freshman student that is dumbstruck after they complete their first round of college exams and discover that they have failed almost all of their exams. The failing freshman cannot believe that they have done so poorly on their exams. You ask them if they had taken notes during class, read the book, or even studied. They respond that they have not, because such activities were unnecessary in high school. Before college, they simply showed up and the teacher would pass them. If they failed an exam in high school, the teacher would give them extra credit and everyone was happy; at least they were happy, until the failing freshman flunked their exam.

No doubt, the former high school teachers for these unsuccessful undergrads thought their permissive pedagogy was necessary; after all, if they had challenged their students with difficult exams, some might have failed. Such failings might have resulted in feelings of sadness, and their self-esteem might have been mortally wounded. On the other hand, another consequence might have been that the failing students would have been forced to work harder and develop study skills that would have helped them when they reached college.

The road to hell is paved with good intentions. The road to failure in college, and other similar pursuits, is paved with teachers that never required students to earn their grades. People need to develop the skills necessary to help themselves. Those that cannot take care of themselves must rely on others, but who is going to help all of these dependent individuals. It is impossible for a person, group, or nation, to take care of everyone; there are billions of people on this planet. If you tried to make a meal for everyone on the planet, most would starve to death while they waited for your cooking to finish, which would rather defeat the purpose of the food preparation. Instead, a more efficient use of time would be to help people to help themselves. Motivating others to achieve is what should be done if your goal is to aid others in becoming successfully self-sufficient.

The best way to motivate a person to be self-sufficient is to provide an incentive. If a person or government is giving away free money, what incentive does the beneficiary of such generosity have to exert themselves through labor? Why are there so many people on welfare and food stamps? Well why would you not, when you receive the money for nothing and the checks for free? Welfare sounds like a great deal, but this free money comes at a price. People are prevented from reaching their full potential. Welfare hinders people from developing skills and working, because, if they do, the free money goes away.

If people want the poor to improve their lot in life, there is only one thing to do, stop helping them. As long as inaction is rewarded, it will continue. Some might say that cessation of government aid would be mean. But what is worse, encouraging a person to work or condemning a person to a life of poverty? Is a life of poverty not crueler? The poor have many untapped skills and abilities, which government handouts inhibit. If someone has the ability to work, it is our duty to help our fellow human beings to help themselves.

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3 comments

  1. Kate

    I think there are many more issues in play here than you acknowledge. First, it’s been my experience (public school in rural Missouri) that plenty of teachers were chomping at the bit to make harder tests but were unable to because of government-mandated lessons, educational structures, and the bane of their existence: “No Child Left Behind.” Even my middle school teachers who voted for Bush still agonized over having to lower their standards to pass kids who refused to put forth the effort–and why should they? They’ll pass anyways with this system set forth by politicians instead of educators! Second, I will admit to some teachers being lazy or downright incompetent but I don’t know of too many that would dispense copious free extra credit just to boost someone’s self-esteem. And how did these lazy students make it to college, anyways? If they’re really putting forth minimal effort and making equally mediocre grades, I would expect them to attend a community college or a really low-ranked school with open admissions criteria. I would not mourn for them if they dropped out seeing as their viability as a degree candidate was already pretty bad. And college just isn’t for everyone–there are still plenty of opportunities in tradeskills, retail, construction, the military, the list goes on. Keep in mind that nobody is safe from the wrath of debt or hunger if they are unable to find a job due to lack of experience.

    Lastly, if some freshman complained about failing their courses, I’d be wondering what else they were getting up to instead of doing their homework or reading the $250 textbook. It’s well-known to the point of cliche that many new college freshmen, previously under the close reign of their parents, go nuts when allowed to finally make their own choices unsupervised. This isn’t a socioeconomic status thing, this happens to kids of all backgrounds! I’ve met wealthy students who partied too hard in their fraternities, I’ve met poor students so ashamed of their backgrounds that they studied hard to rise above that. You can’t punish all those who seek financial aid for college just because some abuse it or else millions of intelligent people would never make progress or escape their past. And in the modern age, even the middle class is screwed since they’re too wealthy to gain need-based grants yet too poor to afford education without years of debt and sacrifice.

    Don’t blame every high school teacher, don’t blame every poor person, but instead teach your own children how to be responsible from an early age so if they fail out they have nobody to blame but themselves. Personal accountability doesn’t follow political boundaries.

    1. newvoiceforpolitics@yahoo.com

      Kate, you make a number of good points about the many factors that affect America’s educational system, especially regarding personal accountability.

    2. Denise

      “even the middle class is screwed since they’re too wealthy to gain need-based grants yet too poor to afford education without years of debt and sacrifice.

      Don’t blame every high school teacher, don’t blame every poor person, but instead teach your own children how to be responsible from an early age so if they fail out they have nobody to blame but themselves. Personal accountability doesn’t follow political boundaries.”

      Kate, you are a wonderful writer, I would love to read more about what you had to say on these subjects. Mainly why college costs have skyrocketed and how that has negatively effected the middle class (affordability of college and mounds of debt from it) and how do you think is the best way to teach young people about personal responsibly and the real world.

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