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Letter: Government programs keep us out of trouble

Posted: August 6, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: August 6, 2012 2:00 a.m.

Byron York’s op-ed piece in the Aug. 3 issue of The Signal shows why conservatives are so out of touch with what’s going on in “real America.”

As he rails against government programs supposedly causing a “culture of dependency,” the example he gives undermines his argument at every turn: the programs he references are designed to help people live a productive — and self-sufficient — life.

Head Start has proven to be a fabulously successful way of preparing underprivileged children for elementary school (making them competitive with better-off ones), and student loans and grants for higher education often mean the difference between a low-income youngster getting the training he or she needs for a good career — or not.

Mr. York gives short shrift to the person’s career (Web designer). Hopefully, thanks to the community support she has received for her education, the young lady will be a productive, tax-paying citizen for decades, supporting herself, her country and helping other young people be successful through wisely used government educational programs.

As for free contraceptives, health plans must provide them free, but we all know they are paid for by employers or by individuals through the premiums they pay, so they are not truly free, just more readily accessible.

Finally, Social Security and Medicare lifted old people out of pervasive poverty when they were enacted and still keep millions out of it today. And both programs require lifelong participation by employers and employees paying premiums into them so that they can rely on their benefits when they retire.

Society works best when there is a public-private partnership to provide help at key moments along the way of life, so that people can become — and remain — productive members of society.

The idea that we are all somehow “self-made” is nothing but an oft-repeated myth; we have all received government assistance in our lives, and our lives are better for it.



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