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In the age of the chronic complainer

  

Originally published in The Indianapolis Star

I was riding In my car the other day listening to National Public Radio's All Things Considered. They were reporting a story on the so-called "working poor." It featured a married man In his early 30s who was raising six children In a small three bedroom house on a yearly salary of $22,000.

Three of the children slept In one bedroom, the other three In the second, while he and his wife shared the third bedroom. The man apparently was not poor enough to qualify for Aid to Families With Dependent Children but was entitled to food stamps, and received health insurance through his Job.

I listened patiently as the story droned on, waiting for the punch-line. The Interviewer probed and prodded, egging the man on, trying to pluck from all this unhappiness the one heartrending detail needed to squeeze a little sympathy out of the listening audience. None was forthcoming.

As the story wound down, I wondered why NPR had even bothered with the account. I also wondered why the man chose to have six children with that sort of Income, and whether he was now under the Impression that society owed him something. Finally, I wondered why the man would agree to be an NPR stooge, whining in public before an audience of millions with what amounted to a fairly lukewarm tale of woe.

I ran the story by a friend of mine, a nurse in her mid-40s, who, It turned out, grew up in a family of 10 children, all of whom had managed to live quite well, mind you, In two bedrooms. Even accounting for Inflation, her father, a factory worker, earned a good deal less than the $22,000 this individual complained of. She and her siblings, she mentioned, all went on to lead productive lives, raised good families, and were as close as could be.

They never went on welfare, because, as she put it, "In those days you Just didn't." I wondered how different her life might have been had there been a stable of NPR Interviewers around In her early years to tell her how bad off she was.

I also compared it with my own childhood. Raised In a noisy two bedroom apartment in the Bronx by my mother, we were a family of five boys who managed somehow on my mother's secretary salary. From our perspective, we never lacked for anything, and fortunately there were no NPR Inter-viewers around to tell us how bad off we were either.

Cultural norms have changed a great deal since the advent of the Great Society. Liberalism, with 30 years of social experiments under its belt, has transformed our society. We have gone from a people who asked first what our obligations were to a nation of crybabies and finger-pointers Intent only on exploiting our "rights" or being accorded "victim status."

The culture of entitlement and dependency, so carefully nurtured by the liberal welfare state, has become an established feature here. But this latest and most obnoxious twist in liberalism's assault on America's values - the chronic complaining and whining - has now come into full bloom. Every day the complainers of America, aided by their lefty comrades In the mass media, hit the streets, parade across our television screens, bellow from our radios, telling the rest of us what a raw deal they got.

They are seemingly oblivious to the fact that by virtue of living in the United States alone they qualify as being among the luckiest people on the face of the Earth. Public whining and confessionals have become an American rite of passage, a form of "enlightened" self expression in this ultimate therapeutic society, and therefore sanctioned by the cultural high priests In the liberal media.

Gone are the days of stoicism, gritting your teeth and bearing hard work and responsibility. The American archetypes, the rugged Individual, the cowboy, the pioneer, who formed the substrata of our national character, have been permanently replaced by the new American hero, the chronic complainer.

Moss is a Jasper physician.

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