Accountability? Yes, let's have it!

Who's entitled to what -- and are there any strings anymore?

The term “entitlement” should never have become a four-letter word. In the case of Social Security, for instance, recipients are entitled – after paying into the system their entire working lives.

But today’s entitlement mentality has made the word absolutely obscene.

Take the Florida woman who has 15 kids, 12 of whom were found living with her in a motel room. Her situation became the focus of jaw-dropping outrage on the Internet after she told news cameras that her predicament was society’s fault – even after agencies had chipped in to pay her rent, utilities and even provide her with furniture.

It’s not enough, she says.

“Somebody needs to pay for all my children,” the woman indignantly intones, sweeping her hand over the overpopulated room. “Somebody needs to be held accountable, and they need to pay.”

You will never see a more inappropriate attitude in your life.

But the same entitlement mentality is woven more delicately throughout our society – disguised as a down comforter.

Some, for instance, are expressing outrage or, perhaps, subtlely suggesting you should express it, over a growing movement to require drug testing of those receiving public benefits. The matter came up in Florida, where the state passed a law requiring drug tests of welfare recipients. A judge has put a hold on the law.

More recently, Georgia Congressman Jack Kingston has introduced legislation that would require recipients of federal unemployment benefits to at least be pre-screened for possible drug testing. A Los Angeles Times story on the bill sends a not-so-subtle message to the reader that he or she should be upset by Kingston’s proposal.

So let’s examine this. Should you be outraged?

First, understand that most folks seeking employment these days are subject to possible drug tests. Why should you face a lower standard to be paid not to work?

Second, consider that a great number of unemployed individuals may be unemployable – precisely because of drug use. Kingston says he was inspired to sponsor the bill in question after hearing from an employer in his district that half of job applicants failed a drug test. Why, then, should taxpayers be forced to pay such folks not to work, without any regard for their irresponsibility?

Third, the media want you to believe that requiring drug tests is punitive and mean, when it’s actually the exact opposite. It’s not compassionate to fund someone’s destructive behaviors and habits, and being found out could be the first step in turning their lives around and becoming employable.

Ultimately, though, it comes down to this: Does the Constitution or morality or even compassion require taxpayers to send people, even the unemployed, money without any strings attached, without any expectations?

Of course not.

Indeed, it’s that expectation that ought to bring outrage.

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Rick McKee Editorial Cartoon