Social Security Administration

1199502493_447ed84c_social+security+number_e  I am a pleaser, for those of you who haven’t figured that out. I try to be sensitive to others feelings as I am sensitive to my own.  Sort of a Golden Rule rule. “Treat others as you wish to be treated.”  Except for my enthusiastic support of Mr. Modi, I have not often talked about controversial Indian topics…slums, lack of toilets, poverty except in a very general way. I love India and want only to support her journey.  Well , let me take you back to my morning and how this all began.

I had to have blood drawn before my physical at the doctor’s next week. As I left, I thought I would stop at the Social Security office to get a change address form which I have been remiss in doing. I thought I would  run in and get one…but no. The policeman….yes armed . .   . .told me to sign-in and get a number. Being compliant, I did as I was told.  I sat there for an hour before being called. That gave me time to notice my fellow waiters!  Old and lamed  men in well-worn  old and ratty clothes, someone needed a bath and was quite smelly, a man with no teeth and a couple screaming and swearing at each other. Needless to say I felt uncomfortable…..wished I wasn’t there, didn’t really want to see or hear these interactions.  There was a man behind me who told the person beside him that he needed an operation but  “they” were denying it!

Then I started thinking, “Why aren’t THEY working? Some were young seemingly healthy men. . . . .  Why are taxpayers  giving them money? ) Then I started feeling guilty and thinking they must be wondering why I was there and why I was under Social Security….hmm….I slid a little lower and tried to be invisible. . . .

Social Security started as a safety net for the poor and the elderly during the Presidency of Franklin D. Roosevelt.  To fund the program, all working people pay into the fund each week and the employer contributes too.  So if you are wondering why I was there, it is because we have  contributed for all our working years and are eligible to draw out those funds now.  Architect is still teaching.  But he is known to tell the TV in a loud voice….”Don’t mess with MY social security!”  This is how most older Americans feel that this is their money, and it is. We/ they have paid into  the fund and are lawfully  entitled to. There is another side to the program…..money for disabled people who can’t work and the poor who need food stamps and money for housing and medical care.   Are there frauds, without a doubt as the news is always reporting. Are there  people who are needing it to survive….obviously.   Two sides of the story and  a very complicated one.  Most older people expect that this money however small would be available for their retirement. It seems the government has not put it in a lock box to be returned to retirees but has used it in other ways. And now as Baby Boomers are retiring, there are fewer workers to support this large group.  AH…the government!

As a former teacher, I know how much is done to try and  help the children  who need extra help either in academics and or finances. No child ever misses a  trip because they can’t afford it and free lunches and even free breakfasts are available in Title I schools. Many schools send home canned food with the children on Fridays so they won’t go without over the weekends. Why isn’t this helping with all the money…billions of dollars spent in these  programs? social-security-debateAre we taking the incentive to work away with all the programs?  But what about the obviously poor and old who need help ?

I started thinking of the Dalit in India, the formerly untouchable caste….the slums I drove by, the children and adults begging non-stop?pch4717  Are there people in this the richest country on the earth who  are also untouchable?  I remembered seeing this Asian women morning after morning digging through trash behind my building  in New York looking for pop bottles to get the 5 cent refund money.  Would a Dalit person  being doing that ?  Probably, desperately searching for just a few cents.

There are lots of people and groups here who provide meals and food for the needy as there are in India.  But the problem seems to persist.  I remember that Christ said, “The poor will always be with you . ”  And  it is true, but  it gives people of faith  a opportunity to  share from our abundance and  help the needy.  There are wonderful programs helping others in India, too ,that I have shared in some former  posts of my blog.

Do I have answers or  have solutions  to these questions, no? I guess we just must see, help, pray for, try to understand,  and be kind to the “least among us.”  Remember we had no control over our genes or the family or position we were born into in  this world.  I  must remember that “There but by the grace of God, go I.” ( I thought this was a quote from the scriptures but actually I found out it was said by John Bradford when he was watching fellow prisoners on their walk to execution.  He later was put to death for his Protestant beliefs in Queen Mary’s England.)

I would love it if my readers were share their thoughts and correct me if you see fit.

Pictures from Google Images, Public Domain

Namaste. . . . .These  Are My Random Thoughts on Hard Questions. . . . .

About annetbell

I am a retired elementary teacher, well seasoned world traveler,new blogger, grandmother, and a new enthusiastic discoverer of the wonderfully complex country of India. Anne
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22 Responses to Social Security Administration

  1. OyiaBrown says:

    Reblogged this on Oyia Brown.

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  2. Even here in the UK, many people discuss those that are receiving benefits and many of those on the receiving end are looked down upon, much in a similar way to the Dalits of India.

    It really is so easy to judge and I have even found myself doing before. You see, I was born into a poorer working class family, my father died of cancer when I was seven and so it was left to my Mother to bring me up with the help of my maternal Grandfather. They both did a pretty good job, I received a fairly decent education and went on to University and am now a fairly well paid professional in the UK’s National Health Service; as is my wife, an immigrant.

    We often wonder: if we could do it, then why can’t others? I always try to remember that whilst we have and do work hard, we have had a fair amount of good luck coming our way and we have moved on professionally because people like us. It would be fair to point out that professionally, people might not like us if we were not well mannered and hard working.

    I suppose my main point is that whilst I was brought up under fairly poor conditions, I was taught love and good manners were key. I hope to pass this on to my own child/ren and hope that they will do far better than my wife and I.

    Sadly, not everyone does grow up in a loving family. Some people grow up in families where there is no love, nor care for their education and well being. It is these people that the social welfare system is for, alongside the disables, retired and those that has otherwise fallen upon hard times.

    I was shocked to here the story from a friend that had gone to somebodies house and had asked the son what he wanted to do for a living when he grows up, only to be answered: “nothing. Why should I? My dad doesn’t work, he just gets money from the government”. The saddest thing was that this boy has no hope from his family. They have not taught him that before you can eat the potato, you first need to dig it out of the ground.

    I will always fight for the Social welfare system, but do also think that there needs to be more done to try to catch children before they fall. There are some really amazing teachers out there that try to help their students, but they can only do so much. We need governments that are not afraid to say: we will help you out for a time, but you will have to help yourself also. It is immoral just to give the poor the fish. They need to be taught how to use the net.

    My apologies that this comment is so full of metaphor but I can find no other simple way to express my views. People must learn that whatever their predicament, there is always something that they can do for themselves whilst also receiving help from their government. We just also need forward thinking governments to support what those receiving benefits might actually want to do in life.

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    • annetbell says:

      Wow, I love you cared enough to write such a long response. I have much admiration for your accomplishments and life. I am thinking that you should , if you want to , post your comments to my post. It is such a great thread and see if others will respond as you did. Does that make sense. My life story, which I did not share has been much different from yours. I grew up much more advantaged and sheltered. That is why when faced with poverty and the poor, I think my heart is so touched. If you want to do something like this, I am not very good with the technology. Mybe a reblog and joining of the posts somehow? Even if that doesn’t work out…thank you ever so much for the comments and sharing the gift of your story with me!

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  3. suzjones says:

    Unfortunately, there are the similar issues in Australia. And there are those who are born and raised in the cycle of dependence upon hand outs. They know no other lifestyle than to expect handouts from the government.
    I have been on the receiving end of benefits for a short time in my life when I was a single mother. Even when I got some part time work, I received a ‘top up’ from the government. But I have worked most of my life and whilst I felt guilty for receiving the benefits, I knew that it was some of my tax dollars that I was receiving back. Now I work full time once again.
    However, I struggle seeing the lack of support for those who are homeless. I struggle when I know that the old age pension is barely enough to feed and clothe a person, let alone pay for utility bills. I struggle when I hear of politicians giving themselves another pay rise or how many billions of dollars profit some of the banks are making. I struggle when I hear of CEOs of companies earning six figure salaries. I struggle when I know that teachers, child care workers, police officers, firemen, nurses, ambulance officers, disability support workers and others in the front line of human services are paid a pittance. I struggle when our government cannot find money to put into essential services in our country but manages to find $13 billion dollars to send in overseas aid.
    It is just scary how upside down life has become.

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    • annetbell says:

      Oh thank you for sharing your story from Australia. I hope it is on the post with mine and the one from Britain. All have similar thoughts…very interesting. Power seems to be so seductive and corrupting. Public servants seem to begin to think they are gods. And the ordinary citizen with jobs or not suffer. Congratulations to you . I think the welfare money is just there for people that need a temporary hand up. Blessings!

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  4. AngieG9 says:

    Reblogged this on Angie's Place and commented:
    Re-blogged from Annetbell, a story that tells it all, in a way I never could, with my heartfelt thanks.

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  5. AngieG9 says:

    I have always wished I could say that as well as you did, and one of my pet peeves is that so many people in my building receive more Social Security that I do, but after they pay their rent and phone bills, they spend the rest of their money on cigarettes and alcohol, with maybe enough food to last a week. Then when they are out of food, but still have the cigarettes, they can be found talking about how hungry they are.

    I grew up poor, and learned how to cook from several generations of great family cooks. One of the lessons was that you can always throw another bean in the pot when necessary, so when I know the others are going without food I cook large pots of food and share with them. I just can’t stand to see anyone hungry when I have more than I need, so I try to feed them all. So I’m probably enabling them in their irresponsibility, and they all know where to get a free meal when they need one, but that’s the way I seem to be wired inside.

    I don’t qualify for food stamps, but did invest some of my food money in a farm to fork program last summer, which saved me a lot of money, and brought me weekly deliveries of the freshest produce I’ve had since moving here from the farm. I know how to save the extras by canning relishes, syrups, jams, freezing veggies, making frozen cubes from some of my favorite flavor veggies to make my own flavored water, dehydrate veggies and herbs, and to grow herbs in containers in my window. So, if a person disabled with MS can do this, why can’t the healthy people do it?

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    • annetbell says:

      Angie dear. . . I hardly know what to say. You have written this beautifully from your heart and your experiences. You may be enabling your neighbors but you are doing it out of love and mercy for them….the best of all possible qualities. It seems people who really understand doing without and being poor are the most compassionate because they truly know how the others feel. I wish more people could read your touching story and see your heart.. . . . . you are my hero! (Maybe you should think of writing this as a post , if you wouldn’t mind sharing your story with more people. I am sure they would be touched and inspired, too!

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  6. It’s all very sad. I remember in Nicaragua that many poor people lived at the garbage dumps. People set them up in houses and tried to help them but they all eventually went back to the dumps because that’s what they were used to–a hell on earth. I’ve never seen such degradation.

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  7. Rohan says:

    I agree that the problem of the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer has grown but the sole reason isn’t the lack of funds or their embezzlement. One of the reasons behind this is also the lack of education and awareness. I’ll give you examples for this. One of the programs by The Govt of India was to provide housing to all the slum dwellers for which residences were constructed and allotted. But the slum residents preferred to continue living in the slums and put up the houses allotted to them up for rent and preferred to live an uncomfortable life albeit with the money received from the rent. Another mindset of the not so fortunate classes is that the more kids there are the more people there are to work and get money. What skips their mind is that though there will be more people working, there will be more stomachs to fill as well and hence children go hungry. Begging is one of the biggest rackets in India. It’s not just a few people who’re begging on the streets, it’s a complete organization. One day there was a beggar who asked my mother for money to eat. My mother bought a whole bag of fruits to to the beggar instead of the money. But this beggar cringed away from the fruits and said she’d rather have the money. The beggars refuse to work as well. There have been instances of NGOs trying to provide beggars with training in sewing, stitching, embroidery but to no avail with the beggars showing little interest. And, the Govt has free education programs for the poor, people are even offered incentives to educate a girl. Many people who’ve believed in these programs and educated their children have had a rags to riches success, with many of them qualifying for the Indian Civil Services and other such prestigious jobs. But, such a mindset is that of a very few people. Most believe that it’s better to have a child working from a young age rather than educating them. So, I believe that until and unless the lower classes change their mindsets and approach, there’s not really much that anyone can do for their benefit.

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    • annetbell says:

      Our students would drew crowds ( no pun intended) when they were sketching at sites. They would have the kids sign their sketch book to let the kids see their sketches. They were horrified when there was a 12 year old selling trinkets who couldn’t write his name. I guess he had never been to school! I also have a post coming about new housing in the slums I will post soon. Such hard stuff!

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    • annetbell says:

      I am going to write about the slums. Try to remember where this is and I will use your comment. Have you read BEHIND THE BEAUTIFUL FOREVERS BY Katherine Boo. about the slums in Mumbai and it makes this very point!

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      • Rohan says:

        It’s very heartbreaking to see their condition! The lack of education among children even when free education is being offered is absolutely appalling. For this very reason, it’s very important to educate the adults along with the children!
        No, I haven’t read that book. I’ll be sure to catch up on it soon though!
        I’m looking forward to your article! 🙂

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  8. Glad to know you support Modi. Sad to know you can’t vote. I am fascinated by what you wrote about social security. It is indeed a pity that extreme poverty co-exists with abundant wealth in India. Mumbai, the financial capital has the dubious distinction of being home to the most expensive house in the world, owned by Ambani, while also having one of the largest slums in the world.

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  9. shuart24 says:

    Well, you can teach a man to fish, but there have to actually be fish for him to catch. Poverty and unemployment is a community wide trap because there is no escape to be found. There are no jobs to be found no matter how hard you look, and looking for a job costs money that just isn’t there.

    And because they have no money, politicians aren’t exactly jumping to fix the problem. The surrounding communities will just try to wall off the poverty ridden one. (Isn’t that a pleasant term, “poverty-ridden”.) They will throw enough money to keep the problem out of the public sphere but will not put contribute any real effort to truly fix the problem.

    Is it any wonder that hopelessness and resignation take hold?

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    • annetbell says:

      Your second paragraphs reminds me of a book I read on the slums in Mumbai, called Behind the Beautiful Forever by Katherine Boo.The slum was near the airport and the govt didn’t want the tourists to see the horrible slums, some of the worst in India. First they built a wall to hide the horror and the side facing the road had a bill board advertising Italian tiles which were billed to be Beautiful Forever….. People told us not to give money to the beggars that they just gave it to some illusive bad men. Some of the girls and I were very tender hearted so we would save some of our food from dinner each night and give it to the young mothers and her children. BUT after we gave them the food, they still begged for money. It is so hard to know what to do. Your words are very sad to me.. What do you think would really help them?

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      • shuart24 says:

        I believe the key would be to tear down that figurative wall. To treat residents not as helpless children but as adults with the power to help themselves. But it is also necessary to recognize that it takes money to make money.

        I think microlending is the approach with the most positives. Generosity with an aspect of responsibility and pride that charity doesn’t create. The government in the meantime can help support businesses and community areas in neighborhoods of low income.

        The key is not to focus on the individual but the community.

        (I’m basing my opinion from my experience living on Chicago’s South Side.)

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