Albany is doomed. Yeah, I’m being a naysayer, but I’m also being realistic. Albany is good and thoroughly doomed. You see, despite the great efforts of a lot of good people, Albany suffers from a terminal condition, and that condition is the idea that so many people in this town hold on to, and that is idea is that the government should pay.
This town has a huge number of people drawing welfare of various types. We are one of the poorest communities in the nation, and it’s not simply because there aren’t jobs. It’s because there are far too many people who are satisfied with that situation.
People who are dissatisfied with poverty will seek a way to get out of it. I met those types of people when I was in the military, for example. Others apply themselves in high school to make sure they can get a scholarship to college. Others will set their sights on smaller schools – schools like Darton or Albany Tech – and count on temporary help like the Pell Grant to help them get started on their path out of poverty.
Instead, most people in this town are content with poverty. They seek employment, if they look for a job, at the lower end of the job spectrum. In all fairness, that’s where they need to start. They’re not qualified for much above that level. However, most of those jobs are what most folks call “dead end” jobs. Others that have an opportunity for advancement never see these workers try to progress through the ranks. They’re content to sit in minimum wage hell for the rest of their lives. Why? Because the government will pick up the slack, that’s why.
“So what then, Tom? Do you want people to just die?” some might ask. Well, obviously the answer is a resounding “no”. I do think that private charity should handle this kind of thing rather than the government, but I’m not going to argue about a safety net…so long as that is all that it is. I’m also not talking about Social Security, since individuals have paid into that for years. I do think that Social Security needs some serious overhauling, but that’s a different conversation.
The problem is that we have people here in town who have contributed very little to the system who see no problem with draining more and more from that system. They don’t see anything wrong with it either, and honestly it’s more than a little disgusting.
Where does this come from? Well, at least part of the blame has to rest with our city leaders. For example, during recent discussions about a new bus terminal, most of our city commissioners were basing any decisions on what it would take to get federal funds. What the people of Albany didn’t really matter, but what it would take to get federal money was the only real factor in the decision.
We need to quit worrying about what it takes to get other people’s money. We need to do what we need to do and move forward with that. If people in this community would do that, we would thrive. It’s just that simple.
The question is, do the people of Albany have the fortitude to actually do that?