Flying never happens until the bird leaves the nest.
President Johnson's Great Society is just over fifty years old. During this very long period America's great society nest has become huge and yet crowded.
President Lyndon Johnson declared war on poverty in January 1964. He then needed a poster child for his new campaign and chose my hometown - Inez, Kentucky. The famous TIME Magazine picture of Tom Fletcher and his family sitting on a porch with the President happened about two miles from my boyhood home.
Life changed for America in many ways in the sixties. The Civil Rights act was vital and was an important piece of Johnson's war. Helping kids go to college was a crucial investment in America's future. In reality at face value it's hard to knock most of the programs that have became permanent American fixtures.
Most of us know someone that has used Medicare, Medicaid, federal college help, food stamps, Head Start, Women and Infant Children and much, much more. With any thought whatsoever we know that many of Johnson's programs have been lifesavers for millions of Americans.
The problem is how far do we go and for how long? Three fourths of our national budget goes to Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and defense. I realize Johnson didn't start Social Security or our defense program. However, his administration produced about forty new programs and most of them in some form are still in existence. Government programs seldom go away. They just get bigger and need more and more money.
I am all for helping people that really need it and are trying. However, there has to be a cut off time. Federal handouts can't go on for a lifetime unless someone is truly disabled.
A lifetime of welfare is personal and national debilitation.
One big problem is that all of The Great Society programs are enrolling more and more people. In millions of cases people hang on to their government support for as long as possible. More people require more federal budget dollars. These dollars come from the taxes of the American people. America is broke and going deeper and deeper into debt to keep our current programs going.
The safety net programs of The Great Society era must only be safety nets with a cut off time. Millions should not be allowed to live in these safety programs forever. Whether it's one, two or even three years there must be a cut off time when the government says no more.
There comes a time that every family must insist that every abled child financially care for himself. I firmly believe we must help every child succeed. This involves a major investment of our time and resources. Education and/or some type of training are vital to all. However, the time comes and it's painful but children have to leave the nest. If they do not they will never learn how to fly and survive.
Glenn Mollette is an American columnist and author.