What in life is free?

Published 8:33 am Friday, October 23, 2015

When I was growing up, my parents frequently said two things. The first, “Money does not grow on trees” meant no, you are not going to get money just because you want it.

The second, “The best things in life are free” meant we did not have the money for whatever I thought I needed at the time. This taught me to be frugal in life, often to the chagrin of my wife and my children; some of which has worn off on them I hope.

Later, I was introduced to a different way of giving the same message, “Nothing is free in life”. Meaning things have costs. To get those things you must work to pay for them.

Learning from these reinforcing messages, I have always been willing to work. The type of work and the hours required have been of no concern to me.

However, it appears that the basic tenet that relates work and reward has been lost to far too many in our nation.  In the last three generations, some see no relationship between work and raising themselves and their families up. Too many are quick to turn to the government for sustenance rather than to the rewards of hard work.

Once long ago, charity was handled from the church and the community. Those in the community were well aware of those who were in true need of assistance and who simply did not want to work. The churches and communities worked to make sure the infirm and children were assisted.

Those who were simply lazy understood that not working created hunger pangs. This resulted in them finding work. Since assistance is now dealt with through government offices, the effort now is — how can one get as much free from the labor of others rather than working?

This is not healthy for our nation. When some see others “beating the system”, they believe they too deserve those same free benefits. On the other end of the equation, those who are working and paying the taxes needed see less reason to earn simply for the benefit of those who choose not to work.

Some will say that there simply are not enough jobs available. That is true to an extent; however, that argument is undermined by the fact that we have many crossing our borders to take jobs. These are jobs that some consider beneath them because they are hard or dirty.

It is clearly true that given the option of doing hard work or lying around getting free benefits, some will choose the latter.

Maybe it is time that we consider learning something from China. They have problems with a mismatch of workers and jobs and, therefore, some qualify for assistance. However, in China one must, if able, work for those benefits. A friend was in China earlier in the year.

He saw individuals going around and around in a public area picking up the smallest of trash. When he inquired why, he was told that to receive benefits able bodied folks were assigned some sort of public work and were held responsible for their assignment.

If you are expected to work to receive pay from your employer, shouldn’t the same be expected from the able bodied who receive government benefits? Shouldn’t the next generation learn the connection between eating and working?


Frank Ruff, a Republican, represents Lunenburg County in the Virginia State Senate. His email address is Sen.Ruff@verizon.net.