The complainer mentality is often contradictory

By Vicki Hyatt | May 20, 2014

The complainer mentality is often contradictory — and hard to figure out

Is it just me, or have others noticed we have become a much more contentious and critical society. It seems many people spend a lot of time complaining often and loudly. Thy are quick to find fault with others, yet turn a blind eye to their own faults.

Whether it’s traffic, our job, the neighbors, the cost of living people or politics, discussions are shriller and thinkers who will evaluate and then discuss are a definite minority.

Many of the complaints these days are about government spending — who benefits, who pays and what needs to be done about it.

Interestingly, some of those screaming the loudest are the very ones who are taking advantage of government programs.

With longer life spans, practically everyone who has been on Social Security for two decades is taking out more than was put in on their behalf. There are households where a government disability check helps make ends meet, but those getting the money want to cut government spending (just not theirs, I guess.)

My favorite complainers are the major corporations that decry spending for public welfare but feel totally justified in taking billions in government funding, either through special tax breaks or incentives they’ve successfully lobbied to receive through the years.

An early lesson continually preached in our household when I was growing up was that everybody works, nobody whines, and if you’re looking to blame someone else, you had best examine your own house first. We were told to just banish the word “fair” from our vocabulary. There was to be no speculation on why a chore we were assigned seemed harder or more unpleasant than one assigned to a sibling. We all had a role to play and it was best to just get on with it.

Later on, our parents taught simple economic lessons. There was the  “if you want something, get a job, save your money and buy it when you have enough” advice, or the cause and effect challenge.

“If we, as a family, spend our money on (insert any number of requests children could make), then there won’t be enough left to pay for things like gas or groceries or shoes, let alone cover costs such as cattle feed, farm or fencing materials and truck /tractor repairs that were a necessary part of making a livelihood ranching in Montana.

By high school, my dad made sure our economic lessons expanded to a societal level.

There are some things worth investing in, and education was at the top of the list. Our nation prospered because of leaders who understood the value an educated populace, transportation, natural resources and the need to ensure that all levels of society had a way to have their basic needs met.

When it came to public welfare costs, we were encouraged do more than jump on the bandwagon of those who were criticizing the bum who didn’t work or the unwed mothers. Decades ago, I found that in our county, 80 percent of the Medicaid funds went to support the elderly, and most of that was for institutional care. Now, about two-thirds of public welfare costs in our country are spent on the elderly, but that’s something you wouldn’t know if you just listened to the complainers.

Many of those who complain the loudest about public welfare are the corporate welfare recipients. There are some studies showing that almost twice as much is spent on corporate welfare than public welfare.

In reality, if the companies that are so concerned about the little guys getting something for nothing would take some of the money they spend on political campaigns and invest in paying employees a living wage, it just might tip the scales toward self-sufficiency.

My dad would say people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. Jesus would ask why you notice the speck in your brother’s eye but ignore the plank in your own.

Comments (8)
Posted by: Scott Lilly | May 20, 2014 17:33

There's a lot of wisdom here.  Stepping back at the highest level imaginable, 47% of the American population is subsidized in some way.  That's too much.  Hopefully everyone can agree to that.  On the other hand, corporations are too large and too impersonal.  Government is supposed to prevent "monopolies" but I fear that term is too near impossible to define.


How to reduce those taking public money for assistance and how to make capitalism more inclusive is where you see the fireworks.  What we've lost in the last generation or two is the fair representation of those two positions and how they work together to meet each other's needs.

Posted by: Joe Vescovi | May 21, 2014 14:18

I truly agree with the article author.   I wish those who always complain about "those taking public money for assistance" would walk in their shoes.  I don't believe any of those people wish to be in the situation they are in.  It is too bad that many of those that have (both corporations and individuals) have no compassion for those that have not.

Posted by: Scott Lilly | May 21, 2014 15:10

It may surprise you how many people who have much wealth came from humble beginnings.  The most compassion you can have is to "teach people to fish" rather than simply "giving someone a fish".  If someone refuses to show up for fishing class and still demands a fish, that is where my compassion starts to dry up.

Posted by: Vicki Hyatt | May 22, 2014 22:15

Working a full-time job is "fishing," I'd say. Yet, those who make minimum wage have children who qualify for free and reduced lunch and need other services. How would you solve that?

Posted by: Scott Lilly | May 23, 2014 07:32

"those who make minimum wage have children who qualify for free and reduced lunch and need other services" -- There must be some penalty for irresponsibly having children when one cannot support them properly.  If the penalty is to have to work 2 jobs, so be it.  If the penalty is to live in squalor, that is part of the equation.  But there must be a path to a better life and people must be free to choose that path or not.


If we had a hypothetical rule that said if you take from public funds, you agree: to be drug tested, to not have a TV in your home, to not have a phone, to not smoke cigarettes, and to work 60 hours/week and if nobody will pay you for that work, you put in community service each week until your 60 hours are done.  All of a sudden you'd see the "need" for public assistance dry up at an alarming rate!  And if someone is doing all of the above and still needs assistance from public funds, I say with all of my right-wing heart: give it to them!

Posted by: Charles Zimmerman | May 23, 2014 09:08

         Presently, wallmart's failure to pay anything resembling a living wage results in app. 18% of OUR dollars spent on "Social programs" like Welfare, food stamps, etc being spent on wallmart employees.

         Most recently a Swiss bank was found to be helping Americans dodge tax responsibilities. While they have been fined heavily, We are not allowed to go after the US citizens who used their services. mitt's wife had a $3,000,000.00 + account that was closed before the last election. Why isn't she and all the other US citizens that have app. 25 to 40 trillion dollars hidden in offshore tax havens not in jail?

            Virginia Declaration of Rights, adopted June 16, 1776.

              Article 16. That religion, or the duty which we owe to our Creator, and the manner of discharging it, can be directed only by reason and conviction, not by force or violence; and therefore, all men are equally entitled to the free exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience; and that it is the mutual duty of all to practice Christian forbearance, love, and charity, towards each other.


              "All persons" who have lost a job/income and qualify for OUR assistance are not "takers". Especially if they have paid into unemployment fund or taxes in general.

               "All persons" who have forcefully acquired OUR businesses for the stated purpouse of "harvesting" them whereby the assets are sold off along with pension funds, business is "outsourced" overseas at OUR expense, are in my opinion traitors and are the worst type of person. Republicans ran one for President. How screwed-up is that?

                 Thank "Almighty God" OUR Founders were liberals and proud of it!



Posted by: Vicki Hyatt | May 23, 2014 11:04


How would you suggest unwanted pregnancies be handled if the event abstinence and birth control didn't work?

Posted by: Scott Lilly | May 23, 2014 11:55

I am only aware of one instance where abstinence didn't work.  :-)


Seriously, in a conservative frame of reference, avoidance of premarital sex was how that was traditionally managed.  That was a moral influence.  The more you remove morality from our society, the less it is able to influence premarital sex.  For those married couples that do not plan to have children (or have them yet), there are options.  From tube-tying to adoption to dual methods of birth control, doing the responsible thing ought to be encouraged by knowledge that making a mistake has a serious cost.  Make it "too easy/comfortable" for an unplanned pregnancy and there will be more if it.  And if for some reason a family DOES need public assistance, they should feel a debt to the public that ought to be repaid in some way.


I understand the "bleeding heart" types don't like the "tough love" kind of thing.  When my children earn a punishment of some sort, I hate dispensing it - but know it teaches them well.  It's the same with society.  When irresponsible actions or risky behavior cause undesired consequences, the consequences need to occur as a deterrent.  It's the tough love we all need.


That being said, when something undesirable happens that is not a result of risky, unwise, or irresponsible actions, society ought to take an interest.  Some "right-wing" folks might take issue with government being what addresses those cases.  (As opposed to extended families and churches and other charitable organizations.)


Public money is OUR money and it ought to be guarded by all.  $17 trillion in debt is too much.  Too many people are taking.  Too many people are spending.  "The System" is not serving We The People well.  It's time everyone started treating public money as they do their own money.

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