Taking Responsibility

Before I make my point in this post, I want to remind you about my background and belief structure.

The majority of my professional experience is in the private sector in either corporate management or as a self-employed entrepreneur. I am one who believe in the free enterprise structure of America and that less government intrusion on the free market system will only allow it to expand and be productive. From this position I also believe in the saying that says, “Catch a fish for a man and he eats for a day. Teach a man how to fish and he eats for a lifetime.” I am not a big fan a free government handout programs. From this position I do believe that there are sections of society who do need the temporary relief provided by programs such as welfare and unemployment insurance. I also believe that a fair amount of tax dollars should be directed to programs like Medicaid. I also believe that there is a certain, smaller populations in our society who need the continuous support from these types of programs.

Herein lies my dilemma.

Currently, I am an actively serving member of the armed forces. Due to the nature of our work, the government, backed by the support of the American people, has decided to provide certain governmental benefits and entitlements due to the unique and often times dangerous, hard work that we do. This provides a unique challenge.

The challenge with any benefit or entitlement that is provided by any organization or the government is that the recipients of that benefit or entitlement will grow very much accustomed to receiving it. The very definition of the word provides descriptions such as “special privilege”, or having “rights” that are “deserved.” When one is accustomed, or dare I say addicted, to a special entitlement it becomes very difficult for the receiving members to have benefits reduced or even eliminated. One can look at all the political discussions around decreases to government entitlement programs like Social Security, Medicaid, Military Retirement. Those discussions become very heated between those attempting to make cuts and those attempting to maintain the status quo.

Over the last week or so I received many emails from some of the national autism organizations who were all beating their chests and taking ownership credit for getting CARA passed and signed by the president. Not only that, but they were giving credit for the passage to me, the email recipient. Sure, I blogged about it and promoted it’s passage, but I certainly would break my arm patting myself on the back like several of these organizations. It’s a good law and I’m glad it passed. Much is needed in autism research to determine causation and develop more effective treatments.

One of these emails explained that the “fight” is not over yet. Because of the dangers of the cuts to Medicaid, there is much more work to be done. If deep cuts are made to entitlement, it will be difficult to discern who of the most needy gets the free money? The sick, the poor, the elderly or the disabled? And how much will the autism community be affected with the cuts!

Here is where I am divided at the moment. For a person who believes in picking your own self up and moving on, but at the same time believes that there are certain people who deserve direct government aid it is difficult to determine which I believe more of.

Government by nature, OUR government, is wasteful. It is a group of elected people who spend third-party money. First-party money is money you earn and you go and buy something for yourself (because you buy it for yourself with your money you are concerned with both price and quality – cause you’re the one who’ll be using it). Second-party money is when you use your money and then go and buy something for someone else (you are not as concerned with the quality or price because YOU won’t be using it – someone else will). Third-party money is using other people’s money to buy something that you personally will not use. All government purchases are made with third-party money. Medicaid changes are voted on by people who aren’t using their own money for a entitlement they will never use themselves. Same goes with unemployment insurance and military retirement.

“A government big enough to give you everything you need, is a government big enough to take away everything you have.” – Thomas Jefferson.

I am sure there are families with autistic children who desperately NEED the government’s direct assistance. I am sure there are individuals living with autism who desperately NEED the government’s direct assistance. And I believe they should get all the help they need.

BUT

I would like to see more live on less or find their own solutions on their own merit to provide the care for their loved ones with autism and leave the governmental aid to those who TRULY need and deserve it. I am going out on a limb to suggest that there may be far too many who believe they are entitled to more than their “fair share” when it comes to support for their autistic loved ones.

The military currently provides some excellent programs to help autistic family members for those willing to put on a uniform, shoulder a weapon and stand in harms way. There are states that have enacted health insurance mandates to assist those families in need who are willing to relocate to those states. There are non-profit organizations out there who are putting out helping hand assistance to help those families who are willing to put into the self-support to assist their family members in need.

As for me and my family we will do what it takes to find the best, appropriate care that our autistic children can get. We will do what it takes to the best of our own abilities with the legal, moral and ethical resources available to us. And we will do so without whining, without crying and without expecting someone else to bear the responsibility of the God-given charge our family was given with special needs children. I’ve tried to walk the entitlement pathways of autism for a short stroll. Trust me friend, you will be better off by picking up your pole and heading down to the lake to feed yourself!

In Advocacy,

Mike