June 12, 2011

Social Welfare


Nancy Briskay Cornell Lipsius

     I don’t know why my feelings are so negative concerning social welfare. Is it the Lithuanian in my background or the traditional New England influences with which I grew up? Either way, welfare as a way of life is extremely distasteful to me.

     I can’t deny there were some financially difficult times during my lifetime. I experienced the depression during my childhood. My memories are of families moving in together and some homes seemed to be bursting at the seams with people. Old and young, healthy and infirm—those who had jobs and the jobless shared quarters. My childish eyes did not detect unhappiness, frustration or downright anger emanating from these kinds of situations. On the contrary, activity, fun and laughter seemed to flourish in the home housing the largest number of people, and that home was the most interesting and fun to visit.

     I believe I was fairly well sheltered during the Depression. I do not recall seeing any bread lines or soup kitchens or Hoovervilles. My brother and I were fortunate to have a mother, who, as a former teacher, was a genius at creating delicious and nourishing meals with little or no meat and  there was always enough to share with others. She was also a clever seamstress and, although we had much less clothing by today’s standards, what we had was of good quality and was undoubtedly more than most people had at that time.

     Determined to support his family on his own, my father took whatever jobs he could find, no matter how menial. I recalled how he walked a distance of almost twenty miles to get milk fresh from the cow because it was a few pennies less expensive. Out of the desperation and need my father eventually took a job working on a freighter heading for South America. This meant he would be away from home for six months. That was when we moved in with my grandmother and grandfather, and I have a lasting impression of the cozy warmth of their home, the closeness we all felt to one another. Hunger for either food or companionship was unknown to us.

     My mother worked long hours sewing for friends and neighbors for a few dollars. She also taught a sewing class. Neither of my parents considered asking for help in keeping food on the table or clothes on our backs. They, as well as my grandparents, kept a vegetable garden each summer. They canned and preserved, and along with friends and neighbors, everyone shared from their overabundance of fruits and vegetables.

     In my adult years and in my marriage we have experienced some financially hard times. However, we saw these times as a testing of our own ingenuity. We managed to survive and learned to appreciate what we have and use it well.

     In making comparisons between the attitudes of the people with whom I grew up and the attitudes of the people today, I feel strongly that the bureaucratic structure of social welfare today robs the unfortunate of dignity, crushes all efforts to creatively supply food, clothing and other necessities. The social welfare system has put in place a system whereby it is easy for generation to follow generation in sitting back and accepting help, yes, even expecting this help as their right without putting forth any effort to help themselves.



MY AUTOBIOGRAPHY: Nancy Briskay Cornell Lipsius

My Mother’s Secret: An Adoption Story

Oprah and I: Adoption Reunion Experiences


“All My Children:” Susan Lucci & Erica Kane


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