The Fallacy That Government Can Help Those Who WILL NOT Help Themselves

Posted: October 29, 2008 in Commentary

The following is based on a true story.

A few years ago I got a call from a young friend of mine who was seeking my advice on which school he should attend for his engineering degree. He really liked the school I attended and told me that he would be joining the military to take advantage of the GI bill to help cover the cost of college.

Well, after doing his time over in Iraq he came home and was unfortunately changed his mind about going to college. Instead, he just hung around his neighborhood and did practically nothing. Eventually some family members who lived in another state offered him the opportunity to come live with them provided that he sought employment. Well before making his move out of state, he found out from his girlfriend that she was pregnant. He decides to make the move anyway telling folks that he going to make sure he finds employment so that he can help provide for his new family. While at his relative’s house, he was given an opportunity for employment through a family member with a local company who needed drivers. All he had to do was to simply study, take and pass the CDL license he needed to meet the requirement and he was practically guaranteed the job.

Instead of studying for the exam, once again he lounged around the house and did nothing. Eventually he got tired (from what, I don’t know) and decided to move back to his old neighborhood. As far as I know, today he is still chillin’.

I think what really gets me about stories like this is that although we all know folks who fit this description, we still hold on to the belief that increased government intervention can make someone want to better themselves. Now, is he typical of most folks who are poor in this country? Certainly not. However, I get fed up with the accusations that somehow if you bring up these common scenarios that somehow you are “beating up” on every poor person out there. If folks like this guy flatly refuse help from family members and government, how the heck do we expect government to do any better?

As a person who has spent a considerable part of my life working with some of the less fortunate in our society, I can tell you that the majority of kids I have worked with come from homes where the parents (wherever they are) simply do not care. Yes, I have encountered caring parents and I have wrote about them on this site. But unfortunately they are not in the majority. I have a friend out here in Cali who used to work in the public school system in Pasadena. He eventually transferred because while he loved the kids, their parents just were not doing their part.

Going back to the guy in my story–here the government gave him the money he needed to go to college and he turned it down. Not only that, he was given the opportunity to get decent employment through family members and he turned that down as well. To tell you the truth, I don’t know who is more foolish, this young brutha or the many folks out there who are familiar with stories like his, joke about these people from time to time, yet fully embrace the notion that government can “fix” folks like this.

  1. Peg says:

    Duane, you said it so well. People have to appreciate that help can be offered to others… but no matter how much “help” you offer, it’s only of any good if the person receiving has the mindset to take advantage of it.

    I have a personal family story that is quite tragic. Relative who came from very modest beginnings; family with no money. He put himself through school with a wide variety of jobs … then ultimately decided to quit school to continue in one of those jobs. After much sweat and tears, he eventually was able to own his own company in the business. He worked like a dog, kept on reinvesting, working hard… ultimately, the business was worth quite a lot of money and he was making a huge income.

    Then he became addicted to pain medications.

    Long and short of it? His life fell apart. It took a while, because the huge money insulated him from problems that others would have to face more immediately. Nevertheless, eventually he lost everything. He lost his business, he lost the wealth he spent 25 years building, he lost family members and friends.

    The one bright spot is that, after reaching a bleak and sad bottom, he decided to go for help and stop using. Today, he is trying to build his life again – but – it’s hard.

    This guy went through literally millions of dollars. They were his own millions … but – none of them helped him because he had become unable and unwilling to help himself.

    Lots of lessons there.

  2. Give it a rest says:


    You mention the fact that he spent time in Iraq.

    Was he in combat?

    Did he come home the same person that he was when he left?

    Did he personally kill someone (in combat)?

    Did he witness anyone he knew personally get blown to bits over there?

    Does he have very serious regrets about joining the army and taking part in a mission that he found rather disgusting once he was knee deep in it?

    From what you are describing this man sounds like he is very depressed yet does not know it and is surrounded by other poeple not intune enough to understand what the problem is.

    Being in the US army is a very different psyhcological experinece for a blackman than it is for a white dude. I find white guys have a much easier time going half way around the world to kill people that have done nothing to them.
    Blacks generally tend to have ambivalent feelings about taking part in these actions.

    I also have a friend that was in the Army in Somalia in the early 1990s. He went into the army at 17 and was very idealistic. Being a Ranger in Somilia definately changed him. He will tell you that he did and witnessed things that he is ashamed of and will never forget. While he came home with no physical injuries he is full of pain to this day.
    Now my firend is a very strong man and has alwasys been. I would have called him gungho when we were younger, he also comes from a military family. But war and combat does effect people in many ways.

    Why dont you offer the young man you are talking about some love brother. There is a very good change that if you were to get him to open up to you he would breakdown crying in your arms. He might tell you that he has lost faith in this world and man and is have a hard time figuring out where he fits in now.

  3. Jen says:

    “I find white guys have a much easier time going half way around the world to kill people that have done nothing to them.
    Blacks generally tend to have ambivalent feelings about taking part in these actions.”

    Wow, just wow! What would you have said if I someone else said that and reversed black and white?? I don’t know what dark fairy tale world you live in and I sure as hell don’t want to find out. Wow.

  4. Give it a rest says:


    I know you may not like what I wrote but can you honesty dispute this notion?

    Now I am not talking about white people in general I am talking about White and Black Americans. One groups come from a culture were oppression, execising power, and and using military force is what the “glory” of their history is based on and the other group come from a culture were they have been on the recieving end of that “power”.

    I can relate the stories of DRAFTED blackmen during the Vietnam war who hated the fact that they were fighting against Asain men while white men were at home doing all types on nasty stuff to black folks. I dont know of too many white dudes who were worried about their family becoming the victim of racism while they were deployed abroad.

    Yes Jen, we are different, although we strive to be one in America in many ways or culture and history have traveled down different paths that have been in conflict with each other, or more correctly one groups has a history of doing bad things to the other. That is history and will never be erased.

    With all of that said YES Blacks in the service of the USA genereally do find it more difficult to kill other oppessed people in other country that have NEVER did anything to hurt them or their families. This is why even today in America their are many , many black folks that have a total disdain for serving in the US armed forces.

    Their is NO glory in going to Iraq and putting your boot on an Iraqi man’s back if when you get home you still get profiled by a racist cop!

  5. Duane says:

    From what you are describing this man sounds like he is very depressed yet does not know it and is surrounded by other poeple not intune enough to understand what the problem is.

    No, Dr. Phil

    He, along with is brother (who I did not talk about) are just lazy. Government gave them love–they rejected it. Family gave them love–they milked it until they got tired of it.

  6. Wil says:

    Combat changes people. There is a guy I know who had two tours in Viet Nam as an Airborne Ranger, he saw, and did, terrible things there. He has never fully recovered, even to this day. He has never been able to create a secure home for himself (actually homeless on many occasions) , even after getting a degree and lots of additional study, and training.

  7. Give it a rest says:


    You never answered my questions about this young man.

    Do you really care?

    And I am not a Dr. Phill but I have seen first hand the effect of serving in a war zone has on people, particularly idealistic young men.

    Many returning combat veterans behave in the same manner as a person that managed to “get away with committing a very bad crime” but can’t not overcome their consense.

    While vindicated and/or safe they still feel an enormous amount of guilt and what I would term emotional paralisys.
    It is very hard to find a job when every morning you wake up and feel like crying or worst.

    Sometimes you conservtive should listen to what some of those god awful liberals have to say about stuff like war. The problem with our country today is we have so many fools out here saying they support the war in Iraq yet are totally divorced from any of the consequences of it.

    Duane, before you pass judgement why dont you ask this man what he seen and experienced while in Iraq.

  8. Duane says:

    Dr. Phil,

    Sometimes you liberals should listen to what has already been stated instead of making up excuses for those who can help themselves.

    He is the same NEE-Grow he was before he went to Iraq. Yes he was in battle just like others I have known. The problem is that he looks up to his brother too much. Based on your comments, they would have you eating out of the palm of their hands with your pillow talk based on little information.

  9. Give it a rest says:


    Come on man, Dr.Phil is total jack ass! I take much offensive at being called Dr. Phil!
    That’s almost enough to make me stop harassing you with my devil’s advocate point of view.

    But seriously I also know my fair share of jive-turkey negros that refuse to stand up and get their sugar honey ice tea together. All I am trying do is give a brother the benefit of the doubt before I write him off and consign him tot he heap of NEE-Grow stupidity.
    Is this guy a weed smoker? Because from what you describe he sounds like it. If not and he does not have any other issues than pull back and let him firgue it out.

    You gotta understand that I am coming from the POV where I am always mythed when I come across someone that sent 3 to 4 years in the army and can lay around like a bum afterwards with nothing being wrong with them.

  10. Duane says:

    Hey, Dr. Phill is a PAID jack ass though 😉

  11. jen says:

    Give it a Rest,
    I understand what your saying as far as black men going off fighting for the country while still getting treated like crap at home, but your statement is still just flat out wrong. But that still doesn’t justify your statement at all.

    Your confusing different issues. From your statement you accuse the white man of going to war to kill oppressed people and that black men only feel alittle more guilty doing it?? So they do it too, but just feel a little bit more guilty??

    I am sorry but you just put down both sides with that remark. I think you should find some men and women in the military and have a conversation with them. From what I know we of all color go to fight oppression not to kill the oppressed.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s