Disclaimer: This article is not about everyone who collects entitlements; many of whom are good and honest people who truly need help. So before I get accused of attacking all of those who collect entitlements, I am only assailing the programs themselves, and those who abuse them.
During one of President Obama’s speeches, he made a statement that was patently false. He stated:
In an ideally moral world, this would be correct, but America is not Utopia. Some people are burdened with a conscience, others simply are not; a basic form of sociopathy.
I saw the videos of a woman; overwhelmingly giddy, saying she couldn’t wait for her Obama money. I personally know people collecting various entitlements even though they are capable of being self-sufficient. These people aren’t urban legends, they’re just the Lazyburg population behaving as if they hit the lottery, and they are out there in droves. So Obama is either ignorant, delusional, disingenuous—or a combination of all three.
Sociopaths and psychopaths are often believed to be the same; these terms are somewhat loosely defined. But in general and for our purposes, we’ll define psychopaths as violent sociopaths, whereas sociopaths are simply people with little or no capacity for empathy, but non-violent. They know what society considers to be morally right and wrong, but only comply to avoid imprisonment or retaliatory assault; their compliance is not out of any sense of morality. They live a life that is exclusively self-serving.
Humans have evolved as social beings. Our ancient ancestors fought off and hunted larger and more dangerous predators and prey by virtue of our intellect and our social interaction with each other—strength in numbers. Being kind to one another is evolutionarily beneficial; a point Dr. Michael Shermer eloquently makes here. But while sociopathy is an anomaly in humans, it isn’t inherently bad, nor even all that uncommon. Scientific American published a great article outlining the silver linings of sociopathy; it’s interesting reading.
The purpose of going into all of this psychobabble is to point out that most entitlement programs are built under the false assumption that people generally do the right thing, but for a much larger portion of the population than these bureaucrats care to admit, this isn’t true. Most logical folks know there are a great number of people who will often fail to do the right thing.
Here are some examples:
- Disability: Imagine someone hurts their back and can no longer lift anything heavy. Instead of learning a less physically demanding new career, they often opt for disability. The fact that they are living off their neighbor’s tax dollars doesn’t bother them. Why should they work if we’re willing to pay them not to?
- Welfare: Imagine a woman having multiple children; collecting more from welfare for each one. By paying her more per child, we are assuring she’ll never have to work again. To her; being a baby mill is more desirable and profitable than working or at least finding a supportive spouse and creating a typical family unit. Why should she work when we’ll pay her not to?
- Unemployment insurance: Imagine someone collecting UI until that perfect opportunity comes along instead of taking a lesser job to get off the government dole sooner. Why should they take a job “beneath” their skills when you’ll pay them to wait until they find something better?
In each case, many of us would see these examples as morally wrong. To the sociopath, it’s merely the path of least resistance. As such, it is quite natural. The questions I asked at the end of each one, are the questions they rhetorically ask to justify this existence.
I do believe that many serial entitlement-collectors wouldn’t have the courage to go to a town gathering, look people in the eye, and ask for money personally. The guilt of knowing they are asking for something they don’t need nor deserve would be too much for most. But with government entitlements, they don’t have to. They can do it behind the anonymity of a government worker, or worse yet, by simply filing an application online or via snail mail. While some may have some semblance of a conscience and are not complete sociopaths, the anonymity shields what little moral fiber they have from any social pressure whatsoever.
So am I saying people shouldn’t get help? Of course not. Most Americans are generous, and willing to help one another. For instance, the Mormon Church is legendary for being the first on scene when a crisis occurs. As tragedies happen around the world, American charities easily out-donate the next most generous country. Charities designed to help unfortunate Americans abound as well. So the idea that Americans wouldn’t help each other if government doesn’t, isn’t backed by any data. Good people who truly need help would often get it, whereas the scammers would be rightfully quashed.
Government caseworkers are charged with preventing fraud, but it’s nearly impossible when they rarely, if ever, meet the claimant. But small social circles know each other. My ex-roommate for instance was someone prone to find a host, pay rent a few months, then fabricate a reason why he can’t find a job, and as such, can’t pay rent. I put a stop to his all-expenses-paid vacation by simply evicting him. But if I were the government, booting him would have been significantly more difficult, lest they be accused of unlawful bias and then sued accordingly.
As the left push for more assistance, I wish to point out that one cannot fraud a program that doesn’t exist in the first place. If we continue to offer free money based on a simple set of criteria, and that money is enough to support a lifestyle, ingenious sociopaths will find a way to meet that criteria, regardless of whether they actually need assistance. It’s the path of least resistance, a phenomenon all of nature generally and understandably adheres to. These people aren’t evil, they’re just not encumbered by social pressure like the rest of us.
America is the land of the free, and as heartless as it seems, freedom means being allowed to fail as well. Charities, churches, social groups, and loved ones will find a way to help the truly needy. That was never something this government was intended to do. I say that entitlements are the seeds of socialism, but Benjamin Franklin said it best:
When the people find they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic.
We cannot let quasi-socialists redefine our love for freedom as heartlessness. Good people will almost always help other good people. They just need the government to stop stealing the money they would otherwise have to do so.