Essay by:
Betty Jo Herring
Emporia State University


“Survival of the fittest” is a concept most of us are familiar with. In nature, some individuals are better competitors than other individuals. Likewise, some species are better competitors than others. Those individuals and species that adapt to changes in the environment tend to survive, whereas those who are unable to adapt generally die out. Competition in nature is, well, natural. We humans live in the natural world, but many of the things we do go against the natural order of things. I believe that if we were to apply the concept of “fitness” to our economy, the situation would eventually level out.

Right now, the government spends more than it takes in, which causes an unbalanced budget, or deficit. Instead of discussing the existing deficit, I would like to put forth some ideas to keep it from getting worse. First, the government needs to stop bailing out failing corporations. If an American automaker is not able to compete with foreign automakers, then the company must adapt to the current environment if it is to survive. The company should ask, “what makes Toyota or Honda so successful?” “Is it the price of the vehicles, the quality of the vehicles, or some other thing?” Once the answers are found, the company has to change what it needs to change to be the better competitor or die out. It is a horrible idea, in my opinion, to reward a company for failure by bailing it out.

Yes, when American corporations go out of business, many Americans are left without jobs. That is a sad result, but it is not a good enough reason for the government to save a poorly-managed corporation. By allowing the corporation to die, it creates space for a new, more “fit” corporation to take its place—one that could compete with foreign automakers. In the meantime, the government can pay the displaced workers unemployment, which would probably be a lot less expensive than a bailout anyway.

Speaking of unemployment, the second idea I have is not a new one but I believe it is a good and necessary one. We desperately need to rethink and reform unemployment and welfare! Not only are the current policies favoring unfit corporations, but also uncompetitive individuals.

Unemployment is a life-saver for people who genuinely need it, but many people take advantage of it and milk it for as long as they can. The side of me that would love to stay at home and be lazy understands why a person would do this. Even so, it is in the best interests of the economy to make it harder for people to milk it. Instead of letting recipients of unemployment search for jobs at their own pace, I think the unemployment agencies should have coordinators who match people with jobs. Once matched, the unemployed person would have to accept the job or forfeit their unemployment pay. Of course, the coordinator would have to consider several factors such as education and experience as well as previous salary when matching people, but if a job is open and the unemployed person is able to do it, then starting at entry level for a lower wage is still better than nothing.

Likewise, welfare is a good thing when it is used properly. However, most of us have known of one or more people who take advantage of the welfare system. I propose that welfare have a time limit and should only be offered on an extended basis to those who absolutely cannot provide for themselves. Welfare recipients who are physically able should be required to find a job or forfeit welfare altogether. Child medical cards and food assistance should be given, but NO welfare checks issued ever. What does the welfare check do, really? I know this is an unpopular idea, but I feel the welfare check harms its recipient more than it helps. Many people who receive them don’t use them for their intended purpose anyway. I have known several people who went and cashed their check on the first of the month and promptly went to buy licquor, cigarettes, drugs instead of buying groceries and paying rent. Others I have seen buying steaks with food stamps.

I work for a living full-time and go to school full-time and receive no assistance whatsoever except for loans, and I rarely eat steak. Yet the person in line in front of me with the food stamp card is buying steak with tax money from me and people like me. Yes, there is something wrong with that. There is something wrong with punishing the fittest and rewarding the poorer competitor. I say, we cut government spending on bailouts and welfare and see where that takes us. Survival of the fittest doesn’t have to apply only in Biology class.


Great job with your essay, I really agree with you. I have not been able to understand why automakers are recieving so much money that could be used to go toward others who really are having a hard time financially. Perhaps, there is a reason though and I'm unaware. I also find it annoying when the person in front of me is buying steaks and whatnot with their food stamp card, and I am eating Ramen Noodles.

Aubrey Koeppe


Wow, I like your style! ha, I COMPLETELY agree with your stand on welfare and unemployment. I have also heard/seen many take advantage of the two. I can't stand lazy people, something should defintely be done. Nice work.


I must say your essay made me change the way that I look at bailout of large corporations, welfare, and unemployment. Your "survival of the fittest" idea put into place with bailouts seems very reasonable and I do think eliminating bailouts and allowing for more "fit" coorporations to take over would help our economy greatly. As far as unemployment and welfare, I have never had first hand experience with either, and I really dont know much about the programs, but I do know enough to say and agree that new policies need to be put in place to regulate who gets help and how much. I think the ideas you gave about unemployment and welfare regulations were great, why hasnt anyone put ideas like this into effect?? Great essay, I really enjoyed it!
-Stacy Beardslee


Really great ideas Betty. The strong must survive in nature and in the market.


I really like your analogy in explaining the economy. It is true! The fittest do survive. You did a great job of explaining what others may not know or even understand. Great job!

Emily Lager


I found out the other day that some of the welfare changes have already been made. I'm glad to hear it but feel a little foolish for not already knowing it. Thanks for the nice comments everyone! :)


I like the style of your essay. You seem to know what you are talking about and have some good opinions on the situation. Good job...Miranda Meyer


I loved your analogy of "survival of the fittest". It really does apply to much of our daily lives. I am also glad to hear that others share my disgust of misuse of government aid programs. I think your essay was beautifully written and fun to read. Great job! -DeZ


I like where you went with this!

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