We The People

Demanding our Fair Share or Choosing to Share our Fare?

Submitted by AMAC Member Diana Erbio –

Are Americans no longer responding to John F. Kennedy’s plea to “Ask not what your country can do for you ─ ask what you can do for your country”? Or have they just begun to answer that question with “Ask the 1% what they can do, we the 99% have done all we are going to do.”

There is a lot of talk these days about those who have done all the right things deserving their fair share. But what exactly is a citizen’s fair share and who determines that share? How will a citizen from the 99% respond when he or she is asked for more because someone in the lower portion of that 99% is not getting their fair share?

Americans who work hard and play by the rules have never expected to be held responsible to make up the difference if other Americans who also worked hard and played by the rules felt short-changed for one reason or another. America’s promise that has drawn people from around the world to her has been the idea that all are given a chance to climb the ladder to the top. The promise was not that you would be carried up the ladder. Often in America, people who have made it to the higher rungs of the ladder do offer a helping hand. But you cannot blame them for not wanting to be pulled off the ladder by too many hanging on.

If the goal is to level the playing field, many may instead be inspired to quit the game. Fewer and fewer players remaining on the field left with the responsibility of providing those who have left the field with their fair share is not a winning formula.

The winning formula for our nation has always been the God given right to freedom and the pursuit of happiness. However, with that right also comes the right to failure.

True, too many as of late have been spared their right to fail. Financial institutions, automobile companies, preferred corporations and others are at the top of that list. Instead of trying to eliminate failure, which is of course impossible, why not level the playing field by allowing all a chance to fail and all a chance to succeed?

This brings to mind the tale of the Ant and the Grasshopper. As I am sure you recall, all summer long the ant worked hard to store food for the long winter ahead. The grasshopper chose instead to dance and play the summer away without making any preparation for the long winter ahead. In the version of the story I am holding up the ant did in the end help the grasshopper. But it was of the ant’s own choosing. The ant was not mandated by anyone to help the grasshopper. The ant did so by its own free will.

It is important that we extend a hand to help others up the rungs of the ladder. But have we become more like the grasshopper than the ant? Are more and more of us expecting others to make up the difference for our short comings as Charles J. Sykes, senior fellow at Wisconsin Policy Research Institute and author of A Nation of Moochers: America’s Addiction to Getting Something for Nothing (St. Martins Press, 2012) suggests. Sykes is concerned that we are at the tipping point at which more Americans depend on the efforts of others than on their own.

Let us move the scale in the right direction by returning to JFK’s call and answering it by helping each other out by choice and not by commanding others to do all the helping. Let us make a pledge. No more demanding our fair share, but instead choosing to share our fare.

Diana Erbio, a freelance writer, lives on Long Lsland, N.Y.

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8 years ago

Divisiveness prevails in the current political climate. Getting “your fair share” has replaced being and doing your best and voluntarily sharing your blessings. Difference reigns over what we have in common. Respect for the opinions and ideas of others is trampled by bully politics and dictation of policy.
Equal opportunity cannot guarantee equal outcome because we are individuals, each with our own talents, abilities and levels of drive. Responsibility to develop and contribute those talents and abilities is both individual and societal. Waiting to get “your fair share” squanders what we each have to offer. Expecting government to meet our needs limits our potential and results in passive citizens not interested in being and doing their best or sharing their blessings. It results in a selfish, self-centered citizenry.

Tom Murphy
8 years ago

I belive that more individual resposibility, Then realize the meaning of FREEDOM, that means fredom to be successful and fredom to be. Help our fellow man who cannot help themselves.

8 years ago

You hit the nail on the head when you stated in a free society you have the right to fail as well as the right to succeed. Equal opportunity does not guarantee equal results. Our “Leaders” don’t seem to understand this and as you said tend to think failure should not be an option. As to your story of the ant and the grasshopper, I think we have a moral obligation to voluntarily help the “Helpless” but should not be compelled by force to help the “Clueless”.

8 years ago

Great article. Where are the centrist Democrats now? They are in hiding ashamed to admit they belong to the party of BHO!!! Harry Truman, Skip Jackson and that generation are all rolling over in their graves, thanking GOD that they didn’t live long enough to see the shame of their party. RIP Democrats of the past!!

8 years ago
Reply to  Joe

Ronald Reagan isn’t exactly looking down on the Republican Party of today and smiling either. When the GOP leadership openly targets some of its fellow members, because they are too conservative, you know the Republican Party has started slipping back to its old ways of “go along to get along”.

Grumpdog In Phoenix
8 years ago

This comment about the tipping point is so dead on.If my numbers are right, we are at 48.7% takers in welfare and other programs, and when we pass 50% our government will go the way of Grease and Spain. Study the demographics of our society and try to figure out where the money will come from to fund all these programs. With the baby boomers reaching retirement age and dying off, who will foot the bill for all these programs? When the boomers were being born they had three or four brothers and sisters to help carry the load. Now with familys producing one or two children, those one or two, will be shackled to this burden for their entire life. What a great gift we,(the boomers), have given them. God bless America and I hope it isn’t to late!!

Jim Uberti
8 years ago

This “new” mindset should not come as a surprise to anyone who studied the last election. Our President, who historically should be a uniter, ran a class warfare campaign, and ,unfortunately, it fell on enough willing ears to get reelected.
When those 99 week unemployment benefits ran out, there was a spike in the number of people on SS Disability. Coincidence?? Those who faked their way onto the disability rolls figured that a lifetime of benefits trumped 99 weeks.
This is most likely what happened in Greece and other European countries. The politicians bought support by giving away the money from the “providers”, but when the money ran out, and they had to deny these benefits, the people rioted. Don’t be surprised if we see that in this country in the not-too-distant future.
I hope the President is proud of what he accomplished. He’ll go on to a luxurious retirement while our grandkids stuggle to pay for his charade.

Dave Herbert
8 years ago

Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for yourself !

Mike Broeker
8 years ago

The author of this article makes a lot of sense to me!!

Duke of Earle
8 years ago

Well done, Diana. I especially love your last paragraph (conclusion). Giving voluntarily is a spiritual act and a blessing. Mandated giving is nothing short of theft.

8 years ago

JFK could not be elected as a Democrat today. His would be considered a right-wing radical by the Party. That should tell you how far left the Democrats have swung.

Good Grief
8 years ago
Reply to  PaulE

Absolutely! I believe that most Republicans would call him too conservative and he could not even be nominated by the “do anything to get elected/reelected” Republican leaders. JFK would join the T.E.A. Party and be rejected by the so called “regular Republicans”.

8 years ago
Reply to  Good Grief

That about sums it up. Which shows just how badly the values of our leaders have eroded over the years. A moderate in 1960 would be classified a radical right-wing nut job in 2013 by both parties.

John Oliff
8 years ago

Any decision I make to share my fare will be mine alone. As long as washington’s entitlement mentality determines who gets paid, I will not give anything to anybody. Unless conservatives start bringing a gun to the gunfight I will not support any candidates or ineffective ad campaigns. We must get angry and defiant.

Reality vs. Excellent Article
8 years ago

Yes, an extremely well written article. Right on target. Erudite. I fear those in power in the current administration would not understand a single word. It’s way too radical for them. Theirs is the counterpoint ideology, the “give it all away” and damn the consequences ideology. And we voted these fools back in for another four years. Are we insane?. Those presently in power are NOT who we want to become, unless we have a national death wish. How do we break away from the snake oil salesmen?

8 years ago

Couldn’t have said it better, with the exception of the 1st sentence. I’m not sure what it means. What I do know it that the top 1% is paying in excess of 50% of the revenue to the treasury. I know they are the ones who create the jobs and capitalize job creation for the 99%. The only answer is the elimination of career politicians with citizen legislators who actually understand the Constitution, what it means, and why it is the hope of the entire world, not just the USA. The second “must happen” is the elimination of any form of income tax. Our framers considered it anathema for the federal government to have any right to the produce of any man’s labor. It is the tool that creates all the power in Washington to divide this nation (the proletariat versus the bourgeoisie (sp), communist revolutions or the 1% versus the 99%). Most don’t even know that the income tax (progressive) is the second plank of the Communist Manifesto and the primary tool used to move a society to socialism and ultimately complete statism, the ultimate being communism. When you hear 1% versus 99% understand that is actually referring to the world, not the USA which makes everyone in the USA a member of the 1%. Are all you 99% getting slammed with more taxes now? Don’t let this secret out, it will ruin the administrations plans. Please investigate The Fair Tax. The recovery of this nation would be near instant if the collected revenue in the manner and everyone would be much better off.

Mary K
8 years ago

Excellent Article and spot on! We have become a nation of moochers, looters, and thugs. As in “Atlas Shrugged”, I want to know when the rest of us are quitting and moving to that valley in “Colorado”.

Kathy B
8 years ago

This article reflects how I have felt for the last four years. Thank you for a well-written article.

8 years ago

Many of us who watched JFK’s “Ask not…” speech are wondering what happened. Thank you for clearly defining the situation.

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