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Subsidize Irresponsible Behavior And You Will Get Irresponsible Behavior

Written on Friday, July 20, 2012 by

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Here is an unchanging truth: When dealing with people, you get more of what you reward and less of what you do not reward.  This maxim is the Achilles Heel of the government’s various entitlement programs and explains in simple but accurate terms why welfare does not work.  Perhaps there are instances in which welfare is a social “safety net” as liberals like to claim. However, too often it is an enabler of irresponsible behavior on the part of able-bodied men who father children and then abandon them and women who exercise poor judgment in their choice of partners.

Writing for The Washington Times, James A. Bacon provides a telling example of the real result of welfare.  “Desmond Hatchett, of Knoxville, Tenn. has petitioned the state of Tennessee for relief of his child-support obligations.  It seems that the 33 year old minimum-wage earner has to divide 50 percent of his earnings with the 11 women with whom he has fathered 30 children.”  In the language of the left, Desmond Hatchett, his 11 unwed paramours, and 30 children are “victims.”  One could make a case for the children being victims, but to call Hatchett and his 11 mates victims offends common sense.  The unfortunate circumstances in which these 30 children will grow up are not the fault of “society” as liberals like to claim, but of one man and 11 women who have learned how to “game” a system that rather than helping them become independent only perpetuates their dependence.  This dependence, in turn, will ensure that liberals who support government-assistance programs will, themselves, be “assisted” in the next election cycle.

What these 11 mothers do not get from Hatchett in child-support payments they make up for by receiving government “entitlements” from a long list of subsidy programs which includes Medicaid, children’s health insurance, food and nutrition services, social security and disability, rental assistance, public housing, temporary assistance for needy families, emergency energy assistance, and free cell phones.  I am probably leaving several welfare programs out, but you get the picture.  His 30 children with 11 different women are costing the American taxpayer way more than they are costing Desmond Hatchett, and not just in dollars.  They are helping perpetuate a cycle of irresponsible behavior and being rewarded for doing so.  The real price being paid is in the erosion of America’s character.

Lest hand-wringing liberals decry my insensitivity toward the “victims” of society, victims whose circumstances I cannot possibly understand because I have not experienced them, let me set the record straight.  I grew up poor with a capital “P” in a house of three boys raised—so to speak—by an uneducated single mother who could manage to secure no job better than waiting tables.  As a result, long before I completed my doctorate degree I was already a PHD.  I was poor, hungry, and driven. Poverty taught my brothers and me some hard but valuable lessons early in life, lessons such as nothing is free and you are entitled to only what you earn through hard work.

Our family never received a dime in government assistance of any sort. Neighbors and churches helped out, but not the government. In fact, though I am somewhat embarrassed to admit this, my brothers and I chose the church we attended on the basis of food, not theology.  The church that served the best dinner on the grounds on Sunday was the church we attended, because that meal would be the only reliable sustenance we could count on for a week.  I now understand that the work-or-starve circumstances of my childhood are why I developed such a high-octane work ethic, one that has served me well and has been a great blessing in my life.  Whatever success I have had in life can be attributed directly to the fact that nobody ever viewed me as a victim, nor did I view myself as one.  Are you listening Mr. President?

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