Ask Not What your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country
John F. Kennedy Jan 20th 1961
Woman #1: ‘I don’t need anyone’s help. My husband earns enough to take care of us.’
Woman #2: ‘When are you going to learn?’
USDA Spanish Language Novela 2012
It’s near the renewal time for some of my annual customers and I was visiting them along with a few new potential customers for the radio show in its third year yesterday.
Central Massachusetts is a tough place make it today. I’m expecting a really bad economy over the next few years with perhaps a small bump in the middle (you can’t outlaw the business cycle but you can screw it up royally) so going to business’ and asking them to commit money for advertising.
Over and over people told me of issues. I spoke to one business that talked about the same problem everyone has, a lot of customers who haven’t paid yet, because they can’t pay yet, orders they want to pay but have to wait for cash flow. One person told me of their various plans to cut their overhead to keep the business going. A third told me he had to go over all his advertising before making a decision and a forth wanted to jump on but hadn’t paid himself in six months and needed to be sure the cash would be there.
In my 6 hours on the road yesterday, I heard many things, but one phrase never came up: “I’m waiting to see what the government give me?”
That’s not to say some business’ aren’t counting on the government. During my travels two years ago I talked to a doctor who declined ads saying his practice was driven by the Spanish on assistance under Mass Health.
Remembering my grandfather born in Sicily who ended up in court during the depression over refusal to take assistance, I remarked how it must be tough for him since the people on assistance must only come when they are REALLY sick.
On the contrary, I was told, at the slightest sign of illness or soreness they and their children are there for the fullest possible treatment and diagnosis, paid by the state and for the doctor, billed TO the state.
As I left I was told anybody in the area who doesn’t gear his business toward people on welfare and food stamps is a fool because this is the future of my city.
How many business’ out there have made their business model in the same way? How many people have decided that this is the way they will carry on.
How long before some electronics store sells an iPAD for $5 and snacks for $600 or till a Wal-Mart lobbies the government to allow that EBT card to pay for that iPad because access to the internet is a human right?
Perhaps I’m a sucker for not going on disability and getting on food stamps. Maybe as the doctor suggested I’m a fool trying to build a business, going door to door and shaking the tip jar to pay the bills with my writing and reporting.
The USDA asks: “When am I going to learn?” the answer? Not until I unlearn the lessons of my parents, grandparents and JFK that I hope to pass onto my sons.
When when the country recover? When we unlearn the lessons of Ted Kennedy and re-learn the lessons of his older brother.