01/26/13 — Between lines: There are clues to troubles in new round of statistics ... and local news.

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Between lines: There are clues to troubles in new round of statistics ... and local news.

Not every truth is revealed in large bites.

Sometimes you have to pay real close attention to see the evidence that lurks behind the shroud of the politically correct.

And then you get a real clue about the breadth of a problem and the delusion under which some leaders are operating.

If you have paid attention to some of the recent news that has hit the newspaper and television airwaves lately, you have noticed a couple of very interesting statistics.

A recent story about the Wayne County Department of Social Services cited the fact that a new system is delaying processing of food stamp applications -- and that one of the contributing factors is that some recipients have to recertify if they have been on food stamps for 15 years.

There it was, did you catch it?

That's right, 15 years.

Now, in all fairness, there are people who have legitimate reasons for having food stamps that long. They might be mentally challenged and unable to support themselves, permanently disabled or facing a serious illness.

But for anyone else, the truth is, if you -- or your extended family -- have been on food stamps for 15 years, you have created a lifestyle.

Think about it. Even significantly less than 15 years is enough time to go to school, to train for a new job or to pull yourself out of a hole. You can find a good-paying job in that time and provide for your family.

That is, if you want to -- and if you have the drive and incentive to do so.

Now take that statistic and read another -- Americans are applying for disability in record numbers.

And, as some analysts have pointed out, the American work force is a lot less centered around physical labor and manufacturing -- the kind of jobs that one could reasonably assume would boost those numbers.

You take it from there.

And when you are finished with that bit of information, think about the number of stories that you have seen lately, and what you have observed yourself, about food stamps and Medicaid.

The real issue -- and one someone somewhere has got to figure out how to communicate -- is that if you offer a benefit to everyone, police nothing and set no expectations, you get plenty of hangers-on and people who could fix their lives, but choose not to -- and who pass that same philosophy on to their children.

And there is a consequence.

There are millions of American families right now who are struggling. They are working, but times are tough.

These are the people who need our help, who are trying to improve their lives and who need just a little boost, a little extra to make it on their own.

Unfortunately, they often make just a little bit too much to qualify for assistance -- and they are faced with an unwinnable choice -- quit their jobs and take the aid, or struggle.

Many choose the latter.

Think how much better it would be if we gave them the child care assistance, the funds for food or gas or the tuition money that could help them build their own lives and futures.

How much better is that than another name on another government assistance program roll call?

And there would be no stigma. This would be a hand-up and a pay it forward. Those who receive benefits would become productive and successful and self-reliant, paying taxes and donating to causes that would allow them to help others to follow the same path.

Doesn't that sound a lot better than 15 years on food stamps or a disability check?

We need to change the mindset of public assistance and to demand accountability and responsibility.

We need hope and change -- the right way.

It's the only option any of us can afford.

Published in Editorials on January 26, 2013 11:31 PM