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Depressing: People in Detroit line up for "Obama money"

By Scott Tibbs, October 28, 2009

This just brings tears to my eyes. In the city of Detroit, thousands of people lined up for a shot at what some described as "Obama money" - funds provided by the federal government to help low-income residents. Rush Limbaugh has been playing these clips for a few weeks now. As I listened to these clips and considered the implications, especially for the people quoted, tears welled up in my eyes. First, a transcript of the two quotes:

ROGULSKI: Why are you here?

WOMAN: To get some money.

ROGULSKI: What kind of money?

WOMAN: Obama money.

ROGULSKI: Where's it coming from?

WOMAN: Obama.

ROGULSKI: And where did Obama get it?

WOMAN: I don't know, his stash. I don't know. (laughter) I don't know where he got it from, but he givin' it to us, to help us.
ROGULSKI: Did you get an application to fill out yet?

WOMAN: I sure did. And I filled it out, and I am waiting to see what the results are going to be.

ROGULSKI: Will you know today how much money you're getting?

WOMAN: No, I won't, but I'm waiting for a phone call.

ROGULSKI: Where's the money coming from?

WOMAN: I believe it's coming from the City of Detroit or the state.

ROGULSKI: Where did they get it from?

WOMAN: Some funds that was forgiven by Obama.

ROGULSKI: And where did Obama get the funds?

WOMAN: Obama getting the funds from... Ummm, I have no idea, to tell you the truth. He's the president.

The city of Detroit has been devastated economically, with the decline of the U.S. auto industry and government policies that have hampered economic growth. Now, people are lining up for their share of Obama's "stash" for a little temporary hope. It has been heart-wrenching to listen to these quotes. With no jobs on the horizon, these people are dependent on government to sustain themselves and to stay in their homes.

Here is what is sad. Most of the people in line for some of Obama's "stash" are capable of much more than they realize. They've been beaten down by a shattered economy and taught by government that their primary hope comes from government programs. Kept dependent on government, they keep voting for the same politicians that produce the same failed policies. The entitlement mentality has destroyed individual initiative and robbed these people of hope.

These people do not need a check from Obama's "stash." They need a job. They do not need the government to step in with a pittance that will only go to a small portion of the people. They need government to encourage long-term economic growth by lowering the tax and regulatory burden to allow businesses to be established, grow and create jobs. Detroit is a city that has been economically devastated, but the people there are no different from anyone else. Most people, no matter where they live, are capable of achieving much more than they know.

Of course, there's the issue of civic ignorance. The money being distributed is not from Obama's personal "stash." It has been confiscated at the point of a gun from taxpayers. The government is being "generous" with money it has confiscated from someone else. In the 1980's, stand up comedian Gallagher joked that "there is freedom of the press at the U.S. Mint." While government can print money, that ultimately devalues the currency. Government cannot produce wealth. It can only confiscate wealth from taxpayers and redistribute that wealth.

In addition to being terribly sad, this story also makes me angry. These people need the hope and change that comes from being able to work for a living and provide for themselves. They need the hope and change that comes from knowing that they produced something and earned the money they are getting. They need jobs, and businesses to create those jobs. Politicians are more than happy to promise handouts to win the next election. This may be a cliché, but these people need a hand up, not a hand out. They need leaders who will tell them they are capable of more than they know. They need the government to get out of the way, and advance free-market economic policies to allow business to create the jobs that will lift Detroit out of the depression it is suffering.

With few exceptions, all of the people who lined up for some of Obama's "stash" are more than capable of taking care of themselves and improving their standard of living far more than any government program can provide. What government can do is provide the infrastructure necessary for job growth, such as law enforcement and well-maintained streets. Government needs to get out of the way, but getting out of the way will not help politicians win elections through buying votes. It is not about helping people, it is about winning elections.