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The Lollipop Effect (The Enabling Government)

Written by | February 4th, 2009

As are many Americans, I have been following, and thinking about this proposed stimulus package that recently came out of Congress, and how it might effect us now, and in the future. 

In life, there tends to be a few different approaches to parenting: if a child misbehaves, some parents will discipline their children, or use a practice often referred to as tough love. Tough love, whether it is applied to a child, a friend, or anyone we love, generally does not feel good. Often, we can feel guilty for being so tough on the ones that we love; however, the purpose of tough love tends to be used to help the ones that we love to see things in a different light, that they are not seeing otherwise. As a parent, tough love is often to teach our children to be self-reliant, and to not be overly dependent on others for their needs. 

There is often another approach used by parents, and that is to try to pacify their children by giving them what they want at any given time; often this is in the form of a toy, or candy, such as a lollipop. While this may feel good to a child, and temporarily solves the problem for the parent, the long term effect is that the child will often grow up with a sense of entitlement, or as we often refer to as being spoiled; not understanding the need to work hard, and earn what they want in life. While some parents may see tough love as a harsh approach, more often then not, I would believe , as the child grows older, and wiser, they will later be thankful to their parent for being tough, and teaching them to be self-sufficient. 

It seems to me that the children who were given one too many lollipops, often grow up expecting another lollipop, regardless of their behavior. You might even expect them to have more trouble becoming independent from their parents, as opposed to the children who were taught that bad behavior is not rewarded, and that lollipop needs to be earned; whether it is by doing chores, or bringing home good grades from school. 

So, how does this all come together?

Well, for a moment, let’s think of government as parents:  

If a government teaches people to be responsible, and more self-reliant – gives incentives, and rewards those who are willing to work hard, try their best, and help advance the country, you would think, in that model, all of society would benefit. Now, think of a government that teaches that it is OK to perpetually fail, misbehave, and do nothing to advance society, however, they are still going to give you that lollipop. In this scenario, would we all grow up to be responsible, hard working citizens – or would we grow up to be spoiled, even co-dependent on government?     

As tempting as it may be, and as much as you may want it, it is often better, in the long run, to turn that lollipop down.

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3 thoughts on “The Lollipop Effect (The Enabling Government)

  1. KEB

    You have hit the nail on the head. Just last week I was having a discussion with some folks about the recent frigid weather and it became painfully obvious how dependent we have become on societal niceties.

    I am not saying that running water and electricity are bad, but what I am saying is that we have forgotten how to survive without them. Thousands of generations survived, evidently miraculously without electricity or running water. I am not saying we should all turn out the lights and start dipping water from the well, but what I am suggesting is that the methods that most people consider archane and outdated, often are the simplest and best methods to surviving in times of need. We sometimes forget that adversity makes us stronger. In this instance, that lollipop has made us weaker, and will continue to do so.

  2. markross Post author

    K, thank you!
    That is an interesting thought; in fact, we just had snow up here in Philadelphia, and I had a similar thought as I was seeing the salt trucks pass by.

    In these uncertain times, we tend to re-think many things, that for years, we have often taken for granted. Certainly, things like salt trucks, trash collection etc., are fine, even expected things that we would likely want our tax dollars to be used for; I can not see many people disagreeing with that, however, with talks of cities and states going bankrupt, it does make one wonder about even the most basic of services that we, for so long, have taken for granted.

    I agree that adversity, while painful at the time, certainly makes us stronger, and more importantly, wiser.

    As I was writing the post, the lollipop that came to mind was a “possible” stimulus check that may come from the government. The government may want to give us this, and offer that, however, we may need to be strong and resist some of these so-called entitlements, if it means that we are going to sell out our values, and if they are trying to use these things to manipulate us into a direction that we may not want to go in.

    The other night, I heard a commentator use anesthesia as a great analogy; prior to surgery, what does an anesthesiologist do? Simple, he administers the drug that dulls the pain, or puts you to sleep. After that, the scalpel comes out. Hence, why some people likely prefer to stay awake during surgery.

    We often think, only of ourselves, and many people often will say, “I just want my slice of the pie”, however, many people (myself included), in the past, never really stopped to think that there is really only one pie, and every slice that comes out of it, will effect us all. This is likely one of the most fundamental theories taught to economists in school.

    Here is my fear…
    After seeing the government giving all of this money to failing institutions, which further leads to more corruption and abuse, I fear that many are asking, “where is mine”? If people are asking this question, I can certainly understand it, especially after what has been going on with this bailout mania. However, if we start allowing ourselves to feel an exacerbated sense of entitlement, then we are all going to be hurt by it. And that is the lollipop that we may need to refuse; while demanding that this madness in D.C. comes to an ends.

    As far as stimulus, I say, keep the lousy money, lower our income taxes, lower corporate taxes, and lower sales tax for a while, until the economy picks back up; while keeping the billions of dollars where it belongs, in The National Treasury. God forbid, but what if we have another natural or national disaster, and we are in further need of our military?


  3. Sean

    The Lollipop Effect… I like the name; it’s catchy, appropriate & definitely buzz-worthy. As to the government being parents, I think that they consider themselves to be more the zoo keepers; I just wish they would stop slaughtering the successful animals to feed those who will not feed themselves.


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