Article by Barbara Cornell.
Syndicated from Barbara Cornell’s personal blog.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This story was originally published on 07 September 2013.
Nearly 4 months ago, a friend of PJ’s called and said he and his fiance (we’ll call them Lerry and Alissa) could no longer stay with his mother and they needed a place to stay for «2 or 3 days until the new house was ready to move into.»
While they stayed with us, they did considerable damage to my house, let their children run loose to destroy my property and endanger my pets. Neither of them had jobs, although Lerry claimed he would go back into self-employment as a contractor, and because they had no way to get around, I let them use my car (the one I used to commute and conduct business; I have another one for personal use). They never washed any dishes, they never cleaned the room they used, they left their dirty underwear piled up in the floor literally knee deep, they played the television loudly all night. Also, while they were there, Lerry remodeled my kitchen and did a fantastic job of it, so it was a mixed bag.
During this time, I was forced to face down the worst of my demons: resentment. Alissa, a woman of 23 years, has already birthed and abandoned 4 babies (2 of them she dumped off on her sister, one of them she dumped off on her ex-boyfriend’s grandmother and the other she’s never said where she dumped that one off.) She collects food stamps and public assistance for each of these children, even though they are nowhere to be seen. She does nothing. All day every day. She does nothing. On the days she gets out of the bed at all (which is about half of them), she sleeps 16 hours, then she visits the bathroom, then she sits on the couch watching television until she goes back to bed. Lerry brings her food to the couch then either she leaves her dishes on the couch (or on the floor or in the bed) or Lerry takes them to the kitchen. When Lerry paid for her to go to school to get her GED, she flatly refused to go. She makes no effort whatsoever to contribute to her own survival. I found that my resentment of her was overwhelming. She lives off of me, makes zero effort whatsoever to contribute, impedes my ability to earn a living, and while I am working at my job or building a business to support my family and her, she sleeps. I would like to think I don’t have such ugly emotions as resentment, but her presence in my house proved to me that was a lie I told myself.
But even after all of that, I still was willing to give them (or at least him) the benefit of the doubt. He seemed to be a hard worker and did good work, and if he chose women poorly, well…we all have our faults.
He showed me a house that was for sale (big, beautiful, two-story Victorian era house with hardwood floors) for practically nothing (squabbling among the estate’s heirs). I agreed that I would buy the house and he would remodel it and then we’d resell it and split the profits. It was a good deal. And it would help him get back on his feet, and give him a place to stay while he worked. By this time they’d been living in my house for over a month. The project should have taken a month.
The project went fine for about a month. Then he just stopped working. I would show up there at 2 or 3 in the afternoon, and they were both still in bed. Or they weren’t there at all. He took off a week to «grieve» over a friend (whom he hadn’t heard from in 20 years) who shot himself. He took off a day for Alissa’s birthday, took off 3 days to go to a doctor’s appointment and get a prescription. This, that or the other thing, and pretty soon, he hadn’t done a thing in an entire month. About every couple of days, there would be someone new I’d never laid eyes on living in the house with them (he told me they were homeless and willing to work in exchange for a place to stay.) I lost count of how many of these people he brought in, but it was at least 20, and they all live on welfare and have no intention of ever doing anything else. I was shocked to discover the size of the pool of these hopeless people living in this small town. Quite often, I would go to the house to check on the progress and it would be filled to the rafters with people I never heard of and Lerry would not be there. Gone…somewhere. I addressed with him repeatedly that I was allowing him to use my car as a favor and to make it possible for him to conduct business but he was not to loan it to anyone, and still many times I would see it around town being driven by someone I never saw before in my life.
As of today, I’ve given them a place to stay, a job, a car to drive, insurance, utilities and quite a bit of cash for going on 4 months.
Now, I’m willing to overlook a lot of things. All this time, I was perfectly aware that he was taking advantage of my generosity, I suspected he was skimming off the top of the project (kickbacks from the crew, stealing construction materials and pocketing the money, possibly charging rent from all his misfits, he claimed one of his crew stole a generator, compressor, tools and supplies but I suspect it was him) so I reined in his ability to do that, but I never removed all faith from him because I believe in generosity for its own sake, even if the recipients are not entirely worthy of it. That is the nature of grace, and I embrace that. People in desperate situations sometimes make desperate choices. «There but for the grace of God go I.» Also, I think we improve our character the most when we’ve been shown grace, been given things that we know we don’t deserve.
But there is a fine line between generosity and corruption, and there is a point at which generosity reduces the recipient’s ability to survive (not to mention the giver), at which point the giver becomes the corrupter. And we’ve far exceeded that. So, it was time to put a stop to it. I communicated to him last week that I was removing his authority over the project, sending a new foreman to supervise the job and he was to take instruction from the foreman. I still intended to carry through with my agreement to split the profits with him, but he had to be at work every day, he had to cease lying to me (he told me many bald-faced lies) and the project had to progress significantly from that point forward (we are already over budget and over-schedule and the project is far from done) or I would have to fire him from his job, repossess the car, and evict him from the house.
Yesterday, a member of the crew communicated to me that Lerry had stated that he intends to steal the car and leave the state. I’ve decided I need to repossess the car because (besides the fact that this morning it has a dent in it and he has not offered any explanation for that) I genuinely do not want to be in any way responsible for sending the man to prison, and if he steals my car I will have no choice but to report it stolen (I’m not so wealthy that I can afford to lose an entire car, I will have to file an insurance claim and that will necessitate having a police report).
Now, I’m not saying that every person who receives assistance is corrupted by it. But I think it is a rare person who can receive unmerited assistance for very long without being corrupted by it.
Lerry probably could redeem himself, but it’s obvious that further welfare would do nothing except harm to him.
Alissa, however, is irredeemable. She’s spent her entire life being paid to produce offspring for whom she shows no degree of responsibility. She is, as we speak, producing the next generation of people who are incapable of survival. If at any point, she had been forced to face the reality of having to do something to stay alive, she probably would have done that. But she is supported by a faceless state and she will never do anything to support herself as a result. She is the living, breathing personification of the destruction that is wreaked upon long-term recipients of welfare. The welfare system destroyed any chance she may ever have had to survive on her own.
I see the proof of the damage that is done by the guilt of the masses every day, first-hand. I suspect that if you are of the opinion that welfare systems help people, then you have never actually sat face-to-face with any of the people the systems cripple. And by advocating these systems while remaining ignorant, you are responsible for the damage done to peoples’ lives.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Since this story was written, Barbara and PJ investigated Lerry’s work progress and misuse of funds. They found that he was defrauding them, as well as the welfare system, and was not getting any work done whatsoever. They gave him notice of eviction and notified him of breach of contract. Lerry subsequently sued them for breach of contract. He lied to the lawyer who was representing him. When the lawyer was presented with the evidence that PJ and Barbara had accumulated, he immediately dropped the lawsuit in exchange for a promise that they would not pursue criminal charges. Lerry was evicted from the premises on 25 October 2013, as ordered by the court; he was not in the house when PJ arrived to evict him. Lerry’s things were still inside the house. After the police granted PJ and Barbara permission to enter the premises, they proceeded to throw away Lerry’s belongings. Lerry attempted to muscle past Barbara with a gang of 6 thugs, but decided not to when he saw that she was armed with PJ’s 1911 .45 caliber hand gun (PJ had to go close out some business with a gunsmithing client of his; we speculate that Lerry waited until PJ left, thinking he would overpower Barbara once he was gone — PJ was only gone for 20-30 minutes; fortunately, he had the presence of mind to leave his firearm with Barbara). All of Lerry’s belongings were promptly picked up by the sanitation department.