Today’s society has become a breeding ground for the most out of touch social norms. People will look back at this time period and wonder how we ever got to this point. I think the main ways the social norms were obscured are from: accepted culture, religious misguidance, and no expectations. There are certain programs that have encouraged this with loosely monitored guidance or enforcement.
The welfare program was put into legislation by the The Social Security Act of 1935 during President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s (FDR) time in office. The original intention of these programs were to help needy or under privileged families. Programs like this were not unheard of in the United States before then. It just did not have large government organizations in control of them. The very first program was the British Poor Laws.
“In the early days of the United States, the colonies imported the British Poor Laws. These laws made a distinction between those who were unable to work due to their age or physical health and those who were able-bodied but unemployed. The former group was assisted with cash or alternative forms of help from the government. The latter group was given public service employment in workhouses (Welfare Information).”
There were other programs after the British Poor Laws. One of them would have been the Civil War Pension Program of 1862. The others had also strived to help with disabled or unemployed people. All of the programs were created to help or sustain individuals that were able-bodied for a short time until they found work.
When FDR created the Social Security Act of 1935, his intentions were the same as the previous programs. The biggest difference was that he created government organizations such as Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Department of Labor, the Department of Agriculture, and the Department of Education. I do not disagree with any of these services. The part that gets me and probably most other Americans would be the mismanagement of these programs. FDR once said:
"The lessons of history, confirmed by evidence immediately before me, show conclusively that continued dependence on relief induces a spiritual and moral disintegration fundamentally destructive to the national fiber. To dole out relief in this way is to administer a narcotic, a subtle destroyer of the human spirit. It is inimical to the dictates of sound policy. It is a violation of the traditions of America” (Thorner).
This quote to me was one of those “I told you so moments.” FDR knew the beast this program could become. He believed that it was up to the individual American to do his part and not become addicted to these programs or handouts. Especially not breed it into our culture.
Accepted culture, to me, is the way people have failed to attempt to change one’s culture with the times or rely on the “way it has always been done” mindset. For instance, African American culture is a proud culture. They have so much incredible history and overcome so many obstacles in their culture. Their history in Africa is one of the most underappreciated areas of study in world history. They have survived constant civil war in Africa and slavery in other European dominated countries. There are many people that have done great things such as William Edward Burghardt DuBois, Martin Luther King, Jr, and many others congressmen/congresswomen, authors, and musicians. I think that most modern African Americans feel they have been oppressed their whole lives because of their skin color. Social media has continued to portray them as a lower group in society.
This is a misconception, because most of society has moved past the skin color issue. The biggest problem is the fact that people from African American, Hispanic, Asian, Indian, Middle Eastern, and Anglo-Saxon descents have become lazy. We no longer strive for what we can earn; instead they look for the handouts. This is slowly becoming the social norm for today’s American Society. Yes, there are still people striving to make a difference but their work inhibited by our laziness. A society cannot change overnight or change without help. We need to change the direction of our cultures from helplessness to willingness. I am not saying to change everything, but we need to look at ourselves, communities, and nation, in order to change our direction. We must not be the generation that destroyed or gave up on America.
“Total number of Americans on welfare 4,300,000, total number of Americans on food stamps 46,700,000, total number of Americans on unemployment insurance 5,600,000, percent of the US population on welfare 4.1 %, total government spending on welfare annually (not including food stamps or unemployment) $131.9 billion.” (Statistic Brain) I’m not saying that everyone on here abusing it, but when there are that many people on it there is some abusing the system. If you need it then by all means, use it, but don’t live on it.
The next thing is religious misguidance. This is a very touchy subject but people think that religion is not the way anymore. The thing is that most major religions have not changed; it is just that the people practicing the religions have changed the appearance of it in order to fit their needs. No religion preaches war, murder, or hatred. All of them have been changed to fit a need of false sense of religious greatness. The biggest example of this would be the Crusades.
The Crusades were one of the darkest time periods of Christianity. God’s Will was used as a slogan for conquest of everything that was not Christian. I doubt God’s will was ever slaughtering people of other religions, for his name. These events have casted a dark shadow over the Christian religion. Others have been the Salem Witch Hunt or Conquistadors in South America or modern day Westborough Bapisist Church. People have taken items out of context in order to fit their needs. Religion is about one person seeking his/her own god in order to satisfy their own internal needs of happiness. Its other purpose is to help the needy. A lot of this is done by privately run, religiously backed organization that put on soup drives and help needing families with clothing, food, and housing. This is the way the countries and people previously helped the poor, not government run programs.
The last thing is no expectations. If no one has any expectations of me, why would I strive to become anything? Our government has strived to become more and more prevalent in our lives. To me it is the hidden agenda of servitude. If an enough people are reliant on a person or group, they can control them by controlling access to their natural needs. The example of this would be our large group of people on welfare. “Nearly half (49.1 percent) of the American population lives in households that received some form of government benefit in the first quarter of 2011.”(Damon)
I think that welfare is needed, but needs to be monitored. Its true purpose was to fill the gaps of unemployment or provide for the incapable, not to sustain a person’s inability to function as an essential part of the work force. This ideology of welfare living is passed on to children and eventually other generations. It becomes the social norm and almost a culture in of itself. Things continue to get worse because there are no repercussions for not working. There are people that live more comfortably than I do because of welfare checks, government housing, and food stamps. Not that I am envious of that lifestyle; I am proud to go to work every day and provide for my family. This is a social concept that has been lost on up and coming generations.
Our country is a great country and has always been. The time is now to make people and their social norms strive to become better. This cannot be done by our government, only by individual choices. Everything I have said can be changed by a simple step in each person taking care of himself and by helping his neighbors. Not doing it for them.
ReferencesDamon, Andre. "Half of Americans in households receiving government aid." World Socialist Website. International Committee of the Fourth International, 07 2012. Web. 7 Dec 2012. <http://www.wsws.org/articles/2012/jun2012/soci-j07.shtml>.
Thorner, Nancy. "FDR warned in 1935 that social welfare programs could become narcotic-like." Freedom Pub. April 26 2012. Web. Web. 7 Dec. 2012.
. "US Welfare System." Welfare Information. Welfareinfo.org, n.d. Web. 7 Dec 2012. <http://www.welfareinfo.org/history/>.
. Welfare Statistics. Statistic Brain. October 15 2012 . Web. 7 December 2012.