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Good luck Grads. You’re going to need it

My sister Kaye, the baby of the family, is a dental hygienist. When our oldest daughter was very young, Kaye worked for the only pediadontist who did work for Medicaid patients on the Georgia coast. Our daughter had some sort of minor dental issue while in Savannah and Laura took her to the office where Kaye worked. After some minor procedure was performed, Laura got out the checkbook to pay for services rendered. One of the young Medicaid patients saw this transpire, looked up at his own mother or whomever had brought him in and asked, ‘People pay for this?’. Of course, people ‘˜pay for this’. Obviously this child was in the habit of getting dental work that was free to him. But, as we know, any time any sort of service is rendered, someone pays the tab. In this case, we paid for our daughter’s bill and a portion of that for the Medicaid kid. This child learned at a young age that some people pay and some people don’t. Likely he has structured his life to stay among the don’ts. The same goes for free school lunches. Once children finish a school career in which they fed upon free food, many will expect the same for their children. Therein, lies the mixed message of that program: we want to educate you and we want you to make something of yourself but, if you don’t, we will feed your kids so you really don’t have to worry about it. In my mind, that is a problematic paradox. Do I want poor kids to go untreated when they have toothaches? No. Do I want kids to go hungry? No, definitely not. Do I want them to suck at the government teat for the rest of their lives? No, again! But, how do you break the pattern? Well we can start with the thousands of Classes of 2011 who are getting their high school diplomas or certificates of attendance this year. Seniors, I don’t agree with the oft-floated premise that it takes a village to raise a child. I do know, however, that the working residents of the village – that’s about half of us nationwide, according to the latest figures – have been taxed substantially to raise you. Now, it is payback time. It is time for you to go to work. You can work at getting a college degree or you can find a vocation but it is important to the very fiber of this nation that you work and pay your own way. Though we have multiple generations in many families who do not understand the concept of a paycheck, you need not be one of them. Look for a job. Even if you are going to college you can get a part-time job. Get in the habit of earning your own keep. Unless you aspire to nothing beyond burger flipper status, get rid of the nose ring, diamond nostril stud and those ridiculous pants that reveal your behind before seeking employment. Those are neon signs that scream Do Not Hire Me! Companies and small business owners are looking for people willing to work. Earning your own money is both fulfilling and freeing. Give it a whirl. Good luck grads. You’re going to need it. Walter Geiger is editor and publisher of The Herald Gazette and Journal Reporter.

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