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Public whining appears to be new foundation for Americans

  

Originally published in the Indianapolis Star

The following guest column was written by Richard Moss, a physician from Jasper

I was riding in my car the other day listening to National Public Radio's (NPR) "All Things Considered." They were reporting a story on the so-called "working poor." The story 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 other, while he and his wife shared the third bedroom.

The man apparently was not poor enough to qualify for Aid for Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), but was entitled to food stamps, and received health insurance though his job. I listened patiently as the story droned on, waiting for the punchline. 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 ac- count. I also wondered why: the. man chose to have six children With that sort of income, and whether he was now wider 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 faintly 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 haw 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 are a family of five boys wild; managed somehow on my mother's secretary's salary. From our perspective, we never lacked for anything, and, fortunately, there were no NPR interviewers around to tell us how bad off we were, either.

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

The culture of entitlement and dependency, so carefully nurtured by Elie 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 com- plaining and whining - has now come into full bloom. Everyday the complainers of America, aided by their lefty comrades in the mass media, hit the streets, parade across our television screens, bellow hum our radios, telling the rest of us what a raw deal they got; 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 this ultimate therapeutic society, and therefore sanctioned by the cultural high priests in the liberal media. Gone are the days of stoicism, gritting gout teeth and bearing it, hard work and responsibility. The American archetypes - the mugged Individual, the cowboy, .the pioneer - Who formed the substrata of our national character- have been permanently placed in the wax museum of American history, replaced by the new American hero - the chronic complainer.


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