Many of my friends and family who know me well have told me how surprised they are that I’ve kept so quiet since before the election – and especially after the results. Well, truth be told, I decided this time around to NOT be critical of any of the candidates or get involved with the hoopla that surrounded the election. I did enough posting on FB, where my opinions were constantly shot down – so, I thought that my blog wasn’t the place to vent.

Now that some time has passed and a clear, logical discussion can be had, I’d like to offer my views on our country, and why I believe we’re headed in a direction that will impact us in ways we can’t imagine. First of all, I must say that when I was a young boy, one of the very first recollections I have is that of my parents instilling love of country – the USA – and a sense of fair play, hard work, and integrity to achieve success in my life.

That was a lot to sink in for a kid, but it was also character building, because my parents practiced what they preached. I had no excuses – none that would pass muster with them anyway. I had to work hard at school, at my first job, in college, and in my subsequent professional life. I also learned the value of having integrity in all those areas, but most importantly, in my personal life. This is where I learned that the hardest work would yield the most results. I’ve only been married for nearly 25 years – not much by some standards, yet quite a bit by others. A long marriage is NOT easy work, but no relationship between a man and a women is more rewarding if they both WORK at it.

Nonetheless, I see a tremendous contrast in how I grew up in Brooklyn, NY back in the 60’s and 70’s, and what is being taught to the majority of children in America now by parents and teachers. When I was in Elementary, Junior High (Middle for many), and High School, I HAD to respect my teachers. If I didn’t there were consequences for me. In our present world, it’s the teachers who face consequences if they dare attempt any discipline on their pupils. How did we get to this present situation? I can’t answer that question – maybe some of you can.

That mentality has propelled many in our country’s young generation to act without conscience or thought of any consequence. Disrespect is the norm – for their parents, teachers, and for authority in general. Now, don’t get me wrong, every generation has had their own misgivings with authority – as is clearly evidenced in the history of the hippie movement of the 60’s and 70’s.

I see a deeper problem, however. Young people – and the generation that immediately precedes them – are generally more apathetic, ignorant of history and current facts, and less appreciative of the hard fought freedoms we, as a nation, enjoy. The sense of pride and patriotism has been replaced with a sense of entitlement and dependency. Many more people, now more than ever before, are reticent to get up and go to work, rather than ask the government for “help.” This so-called “help” for many amounts to nothing more than a handout in exchange for their vote come election time. I call it being on the “dole.”

I suppose there’s always been this type of sentiment, but it used to be in the minority. If this election showed us nothing, it demonstrated that at least HALF of our country believes this is Ok. My suspicion is that the sentiment will only continue to grow. If you’re a middle-class worker getting up every day to work hard for you and your family, and you can barely make ends meet, but then have to pay taxes for support many of those who WON’T work, you eventually feel like giving up. This is insidiously true if you discover that you can do better by going on the government “dole” – it doesn’t take a genius to figure it out. Now, I mentioned those who “WON’T” work. I find it unconscionable that so many on the “dole” are able to work, yet find ways around the system to avoid working and continue to receive monies they’re not entitled to. Whereas, I have no problem with my tax dollars helping those who’ve tried to help themselves but can’t.

Another issue I see happening is the alarming rate at which VERY young people are getting on the “dole.” When I was a young man in NYC, you were not able to get on welfare or get food stamps if you even showed a semblance of being able to work. Not now. I have seen with my own eyes how people who just barely turn 18, and because they’re about to have a child, are given full benefits. How is this possible? These people haven’t held down a job or contributed to their communities, have never paid taxes, and are nothing but an immediate drain on the resources that could be better spent on those who really need the help.

It’s really a contrast of the times – and a shame. I grew up believing America was great, and I wanted to be a part of that greatness. Nowadays, many still think America is great – great to give them everything they want without any effort on their part. A shame indeed, and a true contrast of times.

Thank you for reading – Ed Martinez, Regular Guy.

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