(The Entitlement Nation, Part I | The Entitlement Nation, Part II) We, as a society, have become so accustomed to these social programs, that we have developed excuses for being so dependent upon them. And like any addict, we need to recognize these excuses for what they are so we can begin to heal. "For those below the poverty level, life is unbearable! The government needs to do something!" Government hand-outs are no substitute for hard work and personal responsibility. Most of the people who live chronically below the poverty line have the ability to change their condition, but they lack the desire and motivation. And so long as the government is handing them money, food, and medical care, where is their motivation?
Let us look at an example: Sharon Jasper, from New Orleans. By her own admission, she has been living in government housing since she was six months old; she is now 58. She has come to see the taxpayer-funded housing as her own property:
“If you bulldoze our homes, we’re going to fight,” Sharon Jasper, who lived in one of the developments shuttered after Hurricane Katrina, said before the council meeting. “There’s going to be a war in New Orleans.” Note the reference to “our homes.” These are publicly-owned and taxpayer-subsidized apartment buildings.
Yet despite being on the government dole her entire life, despite never working a day in her life, she still complains:
"I’m tired of the slum landlords, and I’m tired of the slum houses," she said.
Yes, that is a large-screen TV. Yes, those are hardwood floors, and nice cabinets in her kitchen. We all should be lucky enough to live in a "slum" like Ms. Jasper.
The fact is that most college students that live "below the poverty level". When you combine parental hand-outs and part-time job wages, most college students make $15,000 a year or less. Yet they manage to afford rent, food, books, cable TV, Xboxes, and beer. They do this without visiting a welfare office or using food stamps to buy their Ramen noodles. So is it really a matter of income or is it more a matter of motivation to succeed?
"Social programs reduce crime!"
It sounds good in theory, but facts don’t support it. The areas of the country which received the highest amount of state and federal social aid dollars — cities like Washington D.C. and New York City — saw a proportionate spike in crime rates. Between 1964 and 1980, federal spending on social programs rose from $1 billion to $21 billion, annually, then leveled off under President Reagan. The largest preventer of crime is proper parenting. Setting a good example and teaching children correct morals, values, and work ethic reduces more crime than social programs ever can. Social programs breed apathy and dependency, neither of which will result in someone being a "success", and both of which lead directly to a life of crime.
Poverty does not breed violence — violence breeds poverty. When the crime in an area goes up, the people that live there and the businesses that exist there move out to safer neighborhoods, taking their money and economic influence with them. Parents that take an interest in their children, that set a good example, and that keep their kids along the "straight and narrow" do more to reduce crime than the most lavishly-funded social program. Some will say, "What about single parents working two jobs? How can they be good parents when they have to work so much to put food on the table?" Guess what: It IS possible. Is it easy? No. But it can be done. The problem is too many people are unwilling to make the personal sacrifice required… they’d rather sit around and collect welfare checks.
"But some people need the governement’s help"
No, the correct statement is "some people need help." The government cannot provide them more help or better help than an individual or a charitable group can. In fact, oftentimes the government solution is worse. So if someone needs help, help them. You, yourself. Give money to someone who needs it. Donate your clothes to Good Will. Give donations to the Salvation Army. Up your donations to your church. Decide how you want to help and do it.
Right now the government is deciding how your money is spent for you, so when someone comes knocking on your door looking for a donation, you can honestly say "I gave at the office" because it’s been taken out of your paycheck and divided up between all the social programs across the country, even ones you may not approve of. I don’t know about you, but I would rather make my own decisions how my money is spent.
Tomorrow: Part IV — Expansion