Rushville Republican

June 20, 2013

Ward: We used to help ourselves

Bill Ward
Rushville Republican

RUSHVILLE — Whatever happened to the idea that individuals take responsibility for their actions? When did we become a me me me country, one that seems much more interested in what they can get for nothing rather than doing something for themselves? My generation and those before mine were generations that looked on any type of welfare with skeptical eyes. Of course, in my youth many of the federal programs were not in effect and we had to do for ourselves. Social Security was not in effect when I was born. No Medicare or Medicaid, no prescription help, not much of anything. What we did have, however, was self respect, self reliance and a desire not to have to see about any type of help. Today that seems to be just the opposite; what can I get for nothing?

Had some of the present day programs been available few would have attempted to use them, we had self respect. Non government organizations were the ones that actually brought us through the Depression; at times, the government seemed to be more against recovery than trying to recover. We grew old then as now, but if we were unable to live on our own our family, even extended family, was where we looked. The county had a home for those without any other means of support but it was hard to get into and not the most comfortable thing around. We had local banks, not national banks. Our neighbors and friends were those we worked with at the banks. Not so today; all banks in town, with one possible exception, are now large multi-state banking facilities.

Bankers used to know you and what you could or could not do. They had known you since you were born and knew your parents before that. They knew what you needed and without a credit score or any other way to weed out those who may not be able to repay the loan. And about the only things we would borrow for were homes and cars. My family was far from rich, but we managed and did so without any outside help. If Dad lost his job that was indeed his problem: no unemployment or anything else to help him. But what we did have was family, and friends who cared.

Dad was an auto dealer and worked with both banks in town at the time. He was also friendly with all but one of his competitors. In fact, all the dealers in the county had a county-wide social organization they would meet once a month, play poker, drink booze and discuss business. That, my friends, is something I really do miss today. There were businesses in town that knew just what you would want and that is what they carried. You could buy one bolt and one washer and one nut and have two or three different categories of strength to choose from. If your appliance or shoes or anything else wore out you got them fixed, not go out and buy a new one.

Our society today is one of what can I get? Also, I am afraid we have the feeling that you are entitled to all kinds of free services and programs. I agree that some of today’s programs are now a necessity, but not all. The feeling of family is more or less out of style. Now, the children, in some instances, are depending on mom and pop well into their middle age for their sustenance.

Our desire was to do for ourselves what we could. To live within our means has been tossed on the scrap heap of history, unfortunately. Political correctness has replaced our sense of humor and invaded our privacy and lives. Computers have made life much more difficult and I believe tossed many out of jobs. I look around and see so many things that used to be done by people; not now, computers and electronics and robotics have basically done away with the marginal worker in today’s society.

A worker has to be much more educated today than in my day. When my brother got into Indiana University in 1940 we all celebrated because then it was something to be able to physically and financially be able to go to a college. Most all college students went four years and got that degree; there was no idea of dropping out until you actually did graduate. If you had a college degree you were almost certain to have a job after graduation. The degrees given out then were pertaining to reality in life, not the superfluous things one can get a degree in today.

After World War II, the government, rightfully so, decided to see if they could help those returning veterans get a college education, and they did it too. Well into the ‘60s colleges were not big business, they were educational institutions. When you got your degree it was in an area that would be able for you to be able to make a living by having it, not like so many degrees today.

Yes, things have changed, and like my parents I am certain that things are going to heck in a hand basket. But, as with my parent’s generation, I feel in time things will sort themselves out (without governmental help) and we all will indeed see a bright future for our children and grandchildren.