What Did We Do Before Welfare?

A letter to the editor in today’s Rapid City Journal:

Life in a pre-SCHIP home taught lessons

Life in a pre-SCHIP home taught lessons We need to look at life before SCHIP. I remember a lady in the 1930’s who lost her husband at a young age, leaving her with eight children, the oldest 12. She lived in a small town in a small house. She had no car and worked in grocery stores, the courthouse and in the local bank (years later) until her death.

The mother was too proud to accept commodities. She couldn’t afford health insurance for herself or children and the family had a radio and telephone and running water (you ran out to get it and ran in with it). They had an outside toilet (a 2-holer). There were no school lunch programs. Breakfast was usually dry cereal and lunch was “leftovers” from the previous evening meal. Remarkably, all eight children attended college, the three boys under the GI bill. The mother was still working beyond age 65, so drew no Social Security. How do I know all this? She was my mother. I learned from her, becoming a single parent with three small children (oldest was five). We had no health insurance for the children. SCHIP is unearned welfare — called socialism.


There is an irreplaceable dignity in doing things for your self, even in poverty. Having grown up poor, I know this.

Social welfare programs like SCHIP rob people of this dignity, and when they are extended to people making more than $80,0000 a year, it moves into the realm of the grossly absurd.

One Response to “What Did We Do Before Welfare?”

  1. In the early days of my medical practice in rural Illinois I happily treated poor families for a reduced fee. They were people who were doing their best but had fallen on some hard times. They never asked for a hand-out but always offered something in exchange, be it produce, a chicken or two or painting my fence or repairing the roof on the out-building. Everyone benefited from the arrangement. They received the medical care they needed, I felt privileged to be able to help someone plus received something of value in exchange, and they felt proud and grateful that they could provide for themselves and their family.

    Nearby St. Mary Hospital was available to all when the need arose for hospital care regardless of ability to pay. I don’t remember anyone dying in the streets for lack of medical care. Just the opposite, people got the care that they needed but did not overburden the system with minor silly complaints. They understood that medical care was a service with intrinsic value and limited supply and not to be squandered needlessly.

    Medicare and Medicaid changed the dynamics and we now have a system that is satisfying to no one. Thus, we find ourselves on an endless treadmill of rising costs and greater demand for services (most unnecessary). The system is already broken as anyone can attest who has called the doctor for an appointment only to be told that it will be three weeks before they can be seen or that your insurance is not adequate. Hillary-Care will take us over the final precipice into a chasm of interminable waits, labyrinthine bureacracy and stony mediocrity. The era of American medical excellence will have passed, exchanged for the promise of “free” medical care.