By David Crisp/Last Best News
Last month I received my very first Social Security check from the United States government. At long last, I am officially on the dole.
I’ve already learned one thing: All of those conservative politicians were right when they said government checks discourage hard work. I haven’t felt like doing a darn thing all month. The world owes me a living, after all of these years, and I intend to cash in.
At age 66, I can now draw my full benefit and still continue to work at assorted jobs, so I’m not exactly retiring. Life goes on, at its petty pace.
Of course, it will be a long time, if ever, before I take out as much money from Social Security as I put in. That’s not even counting money that my employers have had to put in on my behalf, or that I had to put in on employees’ behalf, plus all the interest I might have earned if I had been able to keep all that money to myself.
But I don’t care about that, nor about the many thousands of dollars I have spent over decades propping up all of the governments that rule my life. Even though it has been a one-sided arrangement—I have sent the government a lot more money than it has sent me—it has never seemed like a bad price to pay to live in the richest and most powerful country on earth.
The government keeps water running into my house. It picks up the garbage. It gives me parks ranging from Pioneer to Yellowstone National, from fishing accesses to the Smithsonian, and it builds roads so I can drive to those parks. It pays for a military that used to protect me from guys like Vladimir Putin, and it reins in polluters who threaten the food I eat, the air I breathe and the water I drink.
The mail comes six days a week. The government sends me election ballots in the mail. The public library has books I want, or shows me how to find them if it doesn’t. Even the Department of Motor Vehicles, the legendary home of inept government, treated me like I owned the place the last time I was there.
David Crisp is a longtime Billings journalist and frequent contributor to Last Best News.