Coming up with enough money to live is a never ending struggle, it seems. I know where I want to go in life, and I know that this will only continue for another year or two. But still, the constant strain on finding enough money to pay the bills and put food on the table is wearing. My wife, Maria, and I both work three jobs in addition to going to school. We clean our church, work part time at a restaurant, and work at an elementary school during the school year. Other money comes our way, from house sitting or baby sitting. All our parents help out where they can.
Those jobs, plus grants, scholarships, and student loans almost bring in enough to live for the year, if we are careful. We are trying to get into low-income housing, but perversely, we don’t make enough to qualify for most of them. After a seven month wait, our medicaid application was granted. This is a very good thing, as I have medical issues and my prescriptions can cost one or two hundred dollars a month. Still waiting on food stamps.
You may ask, why am I using medicaid and applying for food stamps, let alone government grants and loans for school, if I am an advocate of smaller, limited government. First, my situation is temporary. In five years, I will be making a boatload of money, and will most likely pay into the system far more than I will ever take out. I do not plan to live my life on handouts. In my case I see it more like a hand up. Second, I have a duty to do what is best for my family, even if that means doing things that I don’t like to do. The programs are there, and I would be doing Maria a disservice by not trying to take advantage of them. But remember, what is good for the individual is not necessarily good for the group.
For me, as an individual, while I am working to my goal of becoming an accountant, these government programs are what is best for my family. Long term, for the United States as a whole, they are a drain on our resources. If too many people get on them, they can pull the entire nation into debt and poverty. We have already seen this in places like Greece and Cyprus.
In May of 2015, Maria will graduate and I will get my transfer degree and move to whichever four-year university accepts me. Maria will be able to get a good paying job, and depending on my school schedule, I may be able to find some work interning at a financial institution, or even do some freelance accounting. We will get off the dole, and be productive members of society. In many respects, we already are.