Why America Needs to Kill Its Entitlement Ideology
Largely a result of decades of government dependence, too many people today lack the basic concept of personal accountability. Many view the act of collecting their government benefits (whether they be food stamps, WIC, TANF, or other programs) as an act to which they are entitled. Yet, few acknowledge that this ideology is politically counter-intuitive, morally alienating, and fiscally unsustainable. The following account of a Walmart employee's encounters with welfare recipients illuminates not simply a few bad apples, but an ideology of rot.
"I understand that sometimes, people are destitute. They need help, and they accept help from the state in order to feed their families. This is fine. It happens. I’m not against temporary aid helping those who truly need it. What I saw at Wal-Mart, however, was not temporary aid. I witnessed generations of families all relying on the state to buy food and other items. I literally witnessed small children asking their mothers if they could borrow their EBT cards. I once had a man show me his welfare card for an ID to buy alcohol. The man was from Massachusetts. Governor Michael Dukakis’ signature was on his welfare card. Dukakis’ last gubernatorial term ended in January of 1991. I was born in June of 1991. The man had been on welfare my entire life. That’s not how welfare was intended, but sadly, it is what it has become."
What we are witnessing as a society is not a few destitute people, but a culture gradually consumed by an ideology that fails to permit returns on personal growth and achievement. Rather, the welfare-entitlement ideology rewards bad behavior. This is known as perverse incentive in professional circles and has been linked to the actions of our most troubled institutions: banking, investing, education, and of course government.
The political implications that this destructive force has reached everyday Americans is certainly not without importance. From the voting booth, the problem is a double-edged sword. So long as my neighbor feels social justice entitles him to a portion of my paycheck, he is likely to vote in politicians supporting the same ideology. And a particularly disturbing political phenomenon known as "the tail wagging the dog" states that if such an ideology grabs hold of America, many politicians will - against their better judgment - adopt said ideology in order that they be voted into office. The average voter holds onto sentiments divorced from the productive attributes of healthy society, while the politician embraces the same political ethos for personal gain. The people think they've earned such benefits, while politicians enjoy the wide support they receive for supporting them. Thus, the welfare-entitlement ideology is especially damaging because it attacks America from both ends of the social scale. The result is often the demise of the middle, and most productive, segment of any three-class society.Continued on the next page