How often have you heard “give a man a fish and you feed him for a day”? Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime”? On the surface this proverb sounds provocative but in application it makes little to no sense. This saying is usually applied to people who are receiving government assistance or repeated by people who are against government assistance.

By Alfredo Sanchez

Most Americans are educated and can read and write. You would think they already know how tofish. You would think with these simple skills (knowing how to fish) a person would be ready to support himself, hold a job and feed himself. Yet many Americans who have these basic skills are not able to earn a livable wage and are dependent on government assistance.

To feed yourself by fishing requires more than just knowing how to fish. The fisherman must own fishing equipment, have transportation to get to the fishing location from his home, money topurchasegasfortransportation,mapsto locate lakes to fish the best fishing holes, own a boat to get away from the shore toisolated locations where the fish are, to have a place to store his catch, etc. It is not sufficient to teach someone to fish. There must be numerous resources available to the fisherman, other than knowing how to fish, before a fisherman is able to become self-sufficient.

The resources needed by each fisherman varies from location to location and from individual to individual. Just knowing how to fish does not make everyone successful, just like knowing how to read and writes does not make everyone successful. The reason we have such a large homeless population is that many issues contribute to needing government assistance or homelessness, such as hourly wages, having reliable transportation to a job, drug abuse, family abuse, no family support, etc. Once a person is homeless, it is almost impossible for a person to get on his feet unless someone intervenes and provides some sort of support for an extended period, especially if the person has no employable skills.

The next time you hear a person say, “giveamanafishandyoufeedhimfora day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime”, challenge him and have him explain what exactly he means by it. Anyone having a skill needs the basics of life before he can implement his talents and skills. Graduates from high school,

college or trade school get support from parents and family before they can go off on their own and start their owncareers. Some come home because they do not earn enough to live on their own. It is not enough for our government to provide housing for those in need. Our government must also provide funding for career skills if we hope to have fewer people needing government assistance. As the pandemic has reduced our workforce, we need more skilled workers to replace those we have lost. It is time our government, both federal and state, invest in our greatest resource, our labor force, which includes primarily the youth. Yes, I say invest in America which also includes our homeless residents and bring them back to living the American dream. It is cheaper to educate them and help them become contributing members of our society. Once these people join the work force again, they will pay taxes. They will paymoreintaxesthanwhatweinvested in them. If the United States wants to compete on the world stage, it must have a highly educated population, both at the vocational and university levels. Once America was great because it had a highly educated high school graduate population. At one time it had a high school education and vocational training. Today, our youth, in most cases, need a skill or higher education to compete in their own communities and to compete on the world stage.

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