By: Marion Webber
Where are we heading in our world today? Are we moving forward or backward? My question for today is, “why should I have to go to work when people I know sit back and get all their needs met for free?” Free phone, free health insurance, free food. I am NOT talking about people who really need this assistance, but people who are totally healthy. Do you know that Michigan is the fifth highest state in the U.S. for Bridge Card use, with nearly 20% of the state population receiving Food Assistance*?! And also, Michigan is the eighth highest state for property taxes in the country**! I have seen both sides of the coin and many are in dire need! Many of us have been there. Then again, many people today have let “free assistance” become their way of life!
Recently a store wanted to open in Washington Twp. They couldn’t open on their anticipated Grand Opening Day because they couldn’t find enough help! Can you blame people for not wanting to give up their freebies? Can they afford to go to work? If you make minimum wage or even a little more, can you afford to lose all of your benefits, and if something happens to you, now you have no health care? Can you blame them? No! We have created a society that is really stuck in a rut! You can’t afford to work! When I lived up north there was a family that had 3 generations on welfare. They made side money cutting logs and firewood, and were quite content in their life! Welfare was it! Is the next generation continuing on the same path?
What would happen if healthy people getting assistance were made to work? Some people on assistance say, “that is discriminatory!” Is it? Is there a better way to solve these problems we face today? In the early 1930’s my uncle Jude worked in the Civilian Conservation Corps., under Franklin D. Roosevelt. The CCC started on March 4, 1933. Franklin D. Roosevelt said, “Our greatest task is to put people to work. This is no unsolvable problem if we face it wisely and courageously. It can be accomplished in part by direct recruiting by the Government itself, treating the task as we would treat the emergence of war, but at the same time, through this employment, accomplishing greatly needed projects to stimulate and reorganize the use of our national resources.” President Roosevelt felt that this “tree army” would relieve the rural unemployed and keep youth “off the city street corners.” Mothers loved it because it kept their sons busy and taught them work ethics, and brought in an income as well, in a time of depression. By 1935 over 500,000 young men had lived and worked in CCC Camps. Most staying 6 months to a year. The work focused on soil conservation and reforestation. Most important, the men planted million of trees on land made barren from natural erosion or lumbering. This is where my uncle worked, and his work still stands about 3 miles west of Gaylord, Michigan. In fact the CCC was responsible for over half the reforestation, public and private, done in the nations’s history. Corpsmen also dug canals and ditches, and built over thirty thousand wildlife shelters, stocked rivers and lakes with nearly a billion fish, restored historic battlefields, and cleared beaches and campgrounds. Finally, after the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, the country was more worried about the war effort than about domestic issues. On June 5, 1942, the funding finally ceased for the CCC, causing it to end its operations.
During the time Michigan was involved, they occupied 57 camps annually. Michigan enrollees planted 484 million trees – more than twice as many as any other state. They spent 140,000 days fighting forest fires, stocked 156 million fish and constructed 7,000 miles of truck trails, 504 bridges and 22 buildings. They revitalized the Michigan State Park system, established Isle Royale National Park and built campgrounds in Michigan’s national forest. Total CCC expenditures in Michigan reached $95 million and enrollees sent over $20 million to their dependents.
What is the answer to our problem at this time? How can we get off the “get it all free” mentality? Could some of our crime be minimized if people had constructive work? Could we once again come together as a nation “undivided?” Or are we doomed to continue on this road?
Some people now are paying extravagant prices for their health insurance. Will they become the next people needing “free assistance?” How long can they keep paying these high cost and not become the next ones in need? People who are working spend much of their income paying insurance bills, not only for themselves, but for all of those who are not insured, the ones who pay nothing at all. How can this continue? Again I know that there are people who are really in need! I am happy they get assistance, and they should!
So where do we go from here? Will President Trump change Obamacare? Can we find a happy balance? These are questions we face today! What about Medicare? After working for years to enjoy benefits at a time when we are ready to slow down, will we have to pay more and continue to work later into our “retirement” years?
Our times are very challenging. Unfortunately the more I try to answer these questions, the more questions I have. Maybe you have a solution. I would love to hear your opinion!
“And so, my fellow Americans: Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” John Fitzgerald Kennedy
To learn more about the history of the CCC Camps go to Michigan History Center. Roosevelt’s Tree Army: Michigan’s Civilian Conservation Corps.
Primary sources used in preparing this article include *www.statisticbrain.com/food-stamp-statistics/; **http://www.foxbusiness.com/features/2016/02/11/states-with-highest-property-taxes-nine-states-with-highest-burdens.html; http://www.cheatsheet.com/culture/the-10-worst-states-for-property-taxes.html/?a=viewall; https://wallethub.com/edu/states-with-the-highest-and-lowest-property-taxes/11585/; the Congressional Record; Fort Brady District and Camp Custer District Annuals (1937); Michigan Department of Conservation Biennial Reports; “Objectives and Results of the CCC Program,” Secondary sources include We Can Do It: A History of the CCC in Michigan, 1933-42 (1983), by Charles A. Symon; The Public Papers and Adresses of Franklin D. Roosevelt, edited by Samuel 1. Roseman; and information sheets collected from CCC veterans by the Michigan Historical Museum. The Reader’s Companion to American History. Eric Foner and John A. Garraty, Editors. Copyright© 1991 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
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