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SENTRY JOURNAL » unemployment » When Stonewalls Mattered

When Stonewalls Mattered

The other day I was recalling life growing up in the sticks in Pennsylvania.  This is the time of year I always find myself reflecting back on those wonderful days as a child, living and learning lessons that have carried me through life.  With the exception of my parents the one person who had the greatest influence on me growing up was my grandfather.  My grandfather was a man with a mile of integrity and a work ethic that was second to none.  He believed that through hard work and steadfast determination, you could accomplish anything you set your mind to.  He was the man who once told me that how one handles adversity in life defines who they are.  My grandfather was a teacher of life and I often find myself rewinding and playing over in my mind the times I had with him.

One of those special times was a spring day back when I was about twelve years old.  On that day my grandfather and I were walking my uncle’s property and I noticed an old mossy stonewall that skirted the edge of the property line.  These stonewall are located all over Northeastern Pennsylvania and most are falling apart or over grown with weeds and moss.  As I examine the worn down wall I noticed the remarkable precision of the stone placement and how each stone seem to fit perfectly into place.  You could see the care and a sense of pride that was taken by those who constructed the walls.  These stones were hauled in, some massive in size, and carefully place into position; but by whom.  I turned to the one person who would know the answer to my question; my grandfather.

We both sat down on the wall he told me that most of these walls were constructed during the depression years.  They were built by a proud people who didn’t believe in a free lunch.  You see back in the 1930s money was scarce and FDR wanted to get it circulating in the system again.  He wanted to pay people a monthly check for basically doing nothing and encourage them to spend this free money to kick start the economy again.  Many people back then didn’t see that as an option.  They didn’t feel right about getting something for nothing and wanted to earn the money through work.  They believed America was a country built on hard work and not on a free lunch.  So these stonewall projects cropped up all over Pennsylvania just as many other projects sprang up all over the nation.  And even though the work was hard and back breaking, their pride and work ethic would have it no other way.

Today these walls are scattered throughout the landscape of Pennsylvania; standing as a quite reminder of a time when we were a proud people, choosing to work for what we earned over the free lunch.  Oh how things have changed.  This generation believes they are entitled to a free lunch and that they should not have to work for anything less than they deserve.  They feel they are entitled to an extra 13 months of unemployment payments even though there are plenty of lower paying jobs available in the private sector.  This entitlement mentality is a cancer eating away at the very fabric of our work ethic and America.  It is the reason why we are struggling to break free from our government’s grip.  Dependency on the government leads to a loss of our sense of self-worth and purpose.  The one thing I have learned is nothing is free and when we as a people condone such a practice we are surrendering our liberties and replacing them with a government program that limits our choice.  When this happens we become pawns for the forces that desire to control our lives and steal our liberties.  These men and women of the depression years refused to receive something for nothing.  They told the federal government they needed to work for what they earned or the deal was off.  They knew they were the masters of their own fate, not the government and understood the cost of surrendering this position; something we have indeed forgotten.

Perhaps today we need to take a fresh look at our unemployment system and restructure it so that people are required to earn what is given to them.  Maybe we should implement a program for people receiving unemployment payments or any type of government assistance that requires them to work a set amount of hours per week to earn their government cheese.  It just might instill some pride and self-worth in the people and motivate them to seek higher ground.  I know it’s a radical thought, but if we hope to take back the government and make them our servants again we need to wean ourselves off the government cheese and stand on our own two feet.  We do this by breaking our dependency on the government and looking to the past.  Maybe we will find the pride and purpose of our grandparents and rediscover the identity of a great people.  If we sit back quietly and condone these practices with silence, then we are no better than those who believe that America is about a free lunch; choosing bondage over freedom.

Liberty forever, freedom for all!


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  • Trestin Meacham January 1, 2011 at 11:58 AM

    Sometimes I feel like I was born in the wrong time. As I read this I feel like I have more in common with the people back then than most of the people today.
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    • John Carey January 2, 2011 at 12:48 AM

      I know what you mean Trestin. When my grandfather told me the story back in the late 70s you could see in his eyes how much things had changed.
      John Carey recently posted..Abortion’s VictimsMy Profile

  • Matt January 1, 2011 at 2:18 PM

    Excellent post! This shows the contrast well, as well as the level of the rot.

  • proof January 1, 2011 at 5:48 PM

    “Good fences make good neighbors”
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  • LD Jackson January 1, 2011 at 6:40 PM

    Great post and a very interesting story about you and your grandfather.

    Personally, I have no problem with someone who is receiving unemployment being required to work for it, at least in part. As long as the program is designed so as to give them space to find a permanent job on their own, I would be all for it. Who knows, it might actually make them realize they need to accomplish something more with their lives. Of course, I am talking about those individuals who would gladly set on their fannies all day, every day and not think a thing about it.
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    • John Carey January 2, 2011 at 12:52 AM

      I think it’s something we need to take a hard look at Larry. I mean if my tax dollars are going to them to do nothing, then I say let them work.
      John Carey recently posted..Abortion’s VictimsMy Profile

  • Steve Dennis January 1, 2011 at 6:41 PM

    Great post John, you have highlighted a major difference between this current generation and that of your grandfather:The people of our grandfathers generation would do whatever it took to avoid accepting a government handout as a matter of pride. Only as a last resort would they look to the government for assistance, meanwhile this generation stands their with their hands out looking for more and more because they feel they are entitled to it.
    I think you hit on an interesting idea; if these people are so willing to accept three years of unemployment let them work a little bit for the money that the rest of us are giving them.
    Steve Dennis recently posted..Merry Christmas everybody!My Profile

    • John Carey January 2, 2011 at 12:54 AM

      Thanks Steve. My grandfather’s generation was really a proud group. But first and foremost they understood about liberty and freedom. Something many have forgotten about.
      John Carey recently posted..Abortion’s VictimsMy Profile

  • RightHandMan
    RightHandMan January 1, 2011 at 7:35 PM

    What’s wrong with making people do work for the money? If they surpass the normal insurance levels and start getting money strictly off of our dime, we should get something in return. I say that each person has to show up to work at least a half day…

    Oh, but then we’d have to create a whole new bureaucracy to control that…and everyone would get around it by getting sick or claiming injury…and then showing up to the hospital and getting care (and we know that will take hours in the waiting room) on our dime. On second thought…
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    • John Carey January 2, 2011 at 12:55 AM

      You make a good point here right and I could see it drifting in that direction.
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  • Bunkerville January 2, 2011 at 10:53 AM

    You nailed it. I too marvel at the miles of Stonewalls around the my old homestead. They worked hard to scrap out a living in mostly unforgiving land that gave them what they needed to live. Let us remember.
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  • Woodsterman (Odie) January 2, 2011 at 11:03 AM

    When I was still working for the telephone company, there would be an occasional strike. I hated the union, but I wouldn’t cross the line because of my friends. I, instead, worked as a handyman for single woman that owned homes. I would mend fences and decks, fix leaky toilets and faucets, and change heater filters. These woman were very happy to get the help at a fair price. There is work out there, they just have to be willing to shed the government crutch.
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    • John Carey January 2, 2011 at 12:19 PM

      I bet it was rewarding for you Odie.

  • Jim Gourdie January 2, 2011 at 12:13 PM

    Great story, John. Too many of the Baby Boomer generation have lost or never had dignity. Earning your way through this life is, to me, the source of all dignity. That may mean pushing a broom or being a rocket scientist. It doesn’t matter. A man/woman can lie to any and everybody but they can’t lie to themselves. We all know if we are carrying our own weight or not. I wouldn’t want to live without dignity and dignity is something the government can not give to anyone.
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  • John Carey January 2, 2011 at 12:21 PM

    Well said Jim. I’m with you on this.

  • […] When Stonewalls Mattered […]

  • S. Prescott January 2, 2011 at 3:17 PM

    The actual dollar amounts are hard to nail down. They get money for utilities, food, rent, living expenses, etc… What is really sad is there are 4.7 million families on welfare and they average a stay of 6.5 years and that is expected to rise to an average of 13 years. It’s not just people on welfare though. There many people with jobs that do everything they can to limit the amount of work they are required to do while at the same time demanding more money (many unions for example). To make it worse you can’t even fire them for not doing their jobs.

    • John Carey January 2, 2011 at 4:34 PM

      My father worked in management for many years and he would always tell me how difficult it was to terminate workers that were part of a union.

  • ARWB January 2, 2011 at 3:48 PM

    We have those same stone walls here in Tennessee. While out yesterday I passed by a short section. I have seen them in various places around this area but never knew when they were made or under what circumstances. Very interesting.

    • John Carey January 2, 2011 at 4:35 PM

      My guess is that some of your stonewalls were probably built around the same time. I know these projects were not isolated to Pennsylvania. Thanks for the comments and dropping by.