Terry Paulson

Mark: "My name is Mark. I'm here at Government Anonymous because I'm addicted...addicted to government aid."

Leader: "Welcome Mark. What made you finally decide to come tonight?"

Mark: "I've always had a job. I've always earned my own way. When I lost my job two years ago, I thought I could get a job right away. I'd always done that. I updated my resume, used all my contacts, took interview after interview. I couldn't get a job."

Leader: "You're not alone. It's been difficult for many in this economy."

Mark: "I applied for unemployment. They suggested that I apply for food stamps. With their help, I was applying for any benefit I could get. Pretty soon I was spending more time applying for and keeping my aid than finding a way off. I was going on the minimal interviews required. I was just going through the motions. Government aid is designed to help, but it became a trap to me, an all-too-comfortable crutch. Even worse, I stopped believing that I could make my own way."

Leader: "Go on."

Mark: "I know that everyone is going to have times that they need help. I just thought it was my turn. After all, I had convinced myself that the money was there. Then when President Obama said that the rich--those top 1% he's always talking about--needed to step up and pay more, I wanted to believe that was fair. I didn't want to give up my benefits, but I didn't realize how much the rich already paid."

Leader: "What do you mean?"

Mark: "When I found out that the top 1% of American income earners already pay 38% of the federal income taxes and nearly 50% of Americans pay no income tax, I couldn't believe it. While I was being encouraged to game the system, I felt like I was justifying stealing from my neighbor. That's far from fair. And it's more than the poor who are getting these benefits. It's out of control."

Leader: "But why are you here tonight?"

Mark: "It's not just wrong to justify taking more from my neighbor; the government is broke. I didn't realize how much until I saw John Stossel explain it in a way I could understand. He didn't talk about trillions in debt. Who can understand how big a trillion dollars really is?. Stossel put the problem in terms of an average American family. If America was a family, its average income would be $24,700--its annual spending $37,900. This year, that family would have added $13,300 in new credit card debt. But that is nothing compared to the existing credit card balance--$153,500. Who could sleep with a debt like that? And who would be paying for this? Our kids will! We are taking now, and they will get the bill later."

Terry Paulson

Terry Paulson, PhD is a psychologist, award-winning professional speaker, author of The Optimism Advantage: 50 Simple Truths to Transform Your Attitudes and Actions into Results, and long-time columnist for the Ventura County Star.

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