The era of accountability

Lawmakers finally seek to attach strings to public benefits

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Washington will be the last one to know – but around the country, responsibility may be making a comeback.

We’ll know for sure after the November elections. But the signs are encouraging.

In increasing state capitals, lawmakers are filing bills that finally, and blessedly, put a few reasonable strings on public benefits. Most of them involve drug testing, which is the minimum that should be required. Florida was among the first to require those receiving public benefits to be drug tested; now Georgia and South Carolina and, no doubt, other states are following suit.

Gov. Nikki Haley’s spokesman used the key word in describing the movement in South Carolina:

“Anything that increases accountability ...”

He went on from there, but that said it all. Accountability.

Truth be told, governments have done no one any favors by not expecting accountability over the decades. They’ve paid out tax money with little regard for making sure taxpayers were well-served. And in expecting almost nothing in return from recipients, they’ve propagated what, in other circumstances, is called “the soft bigotry of low expectations.” The less we expect of people, the less we’ll get – and the more potential that will be lost.

This is certainly true in the case of unemployment benefits, and South Carolina state Sen. Paul Campbell would like to change that. His bill would require beneficiaries, after six months, to volunteer 16 hours a week in order to receive benefits.

The knee-jerk reaction among some will be to consider that harsh. Oh, good grief. Our ancestors thought nothing of earning their keep with a good day’s work – and 16 hours isn’t even half a working week. Besides, it may just give someone the chance to not only feel as if he or she is contributing, but to hone or even show off some job skills. And that could lead to future employment!

Moreover, now more than ever, it’s time states and local governments got more bang for the buck. A sudden army of volunteers could help keep the trains running on time, as it were, and maybe help spruce things up a bit without increasing taxes during a fragile economy.

Predictably, a liberal organization is blowing back against the ideas, saying that, “To suggest that the unemployed are lazy drug abusers who are just sitting around feeds a false, ugly stereotype.” Nonsense. No one is saying that. Besides – if they’re not lazy drug abusers, then they shouldn’t mind volunteering.

Meanwhile, anyone who is lucky enough to apply for a job and earn a paycheck is likely subject to drug testing. Why should public benefits carry any less than that minimal burden?

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Riverman1
82400
Points
Riverman1 01/16/12 - 06:37 am
0
0
I’d drug test them just to

I’d drug test them just to harass them a bit. The more uncomfortable and inconvenient it is to get hand-outs the more impetus to go to work. I’d also make them stand in a long line outside the building for hours every week. Then before giving them the money, I’d make every one of them say, “God bless the taxpayers who are giving me this money.”

agustinian
689
Points
agustinian 01/16/12 - 07:19 am
0
0
Hmmmmmm! Today is MLK day,

Hmmmmmm! Today is MLK day, and this is what the AC writes about? You're kiddin', aren't you?

Jon Lester
2285
Points
Jon Lester 01/16/12 - 07:47 am
0
0
Watch for the story on state

Watch for the story on state Rep. Kip Smith, sponsor of a bill mandating drug testing of Georgia welfare recipients, who was himself charged with DUI over the weekend.

jwarner6
63
Points
jwarner6 01/16/12 - 07:49 am
0
0
Does requiring volunteer work

Does requiring volunteer work have to be limited to only those who receive unemployment benefits? What about other entitlements?

southernguy08
499
Points
southernguy08 01/16/12 - 08:45 am
0
0
JON, is Smith on welfare?
Unpublished

JON, is Smith on welfare?

david jennings
571
Points
david jennings 01/16/12 - 08:51 am
0
0
I was laid off last July when

I was laid off last July when the job I was on ended at completion. I drew $161.00 for about 16 weeks from SC. I could have applied for an extension, but I figured it wasn't worth the hassle. So yes making it a little more difficult to recieve benefits might be an incentive for some to just go back to work. I'm going back to work and will probaly be earning about half of what my last job paid, but I feel better working. No way do I feel anyone should be on uemployment for two years. As for the volunteer requirement, I don't think that's asking to much, drug test me , no problem, but really, I'd rather be working and let my employer pay for it.

Bruno
780
Points
Bruno 01/16/12 - 08:59 am
0
0
agustinian, what does MLK day

agustinian, what does MLK day have to do with the piece? Why should they not write about a newsworthy topic on MLK day?

Jon, Smith's DUI has nothing to do with drug testing people on public benefits. There is no parallel. Smith isn't on public assistance and he, while the DUI is detestable, he bought the booze legally with his own money.

TParty
6003
Points
TParty 01/16/12 - 09:25 am
0
0
I wonder why the

I wonder why the representatives who receive so much from the tax payers (salaries, pension, health care, all sorts of goodies like travel and per diem) do not have to submit to drug tests. Oh, what's that? They make their own rules and when a member has introduced that sort of rule- they found it unconstitutional for congress members to be tested. How weird. What's next, they get to decide their own pay raises!?!

I love how "Do other people who are not poor that receive public benefits have mandatory testing?" is always ignored.

And Rep. Smith's DUI has everything to do with this. Where's the accountability? How can someone call for accountability, cost the state money (Drug testing costs money, and if you look at how much it costs Florida, you'll get an idea) and do the wrong thing at the same time? It's that "Do as I say, not as I do" mentality that is disgusting.

The 16 hours a week, giving back to the community is a wonderful idea- something I supported for a long time. I don't think it should take effect after six months, maybe as soon as they receive some welfare (so long as they are healthy). The helping each other out is what will build a community, instead of dividing it. It should establish some pride, and sense of worth if people are paid a wage, instead of being given a handout. The hours should be low, so the people can find time to look for work, and have interviews, etc.... but working around the community and in return receive help will establish trust and should weed out those who want to take advantage and abuse the system.

justus4
99
Points
justus4 01/16/12 - 09:55 am
0
0
This is "big government"
Unpublished

This is "big government" being referred to as "accountability" because the targets are perceived to be minorities, but why not test law enforcement because they carry weapons? "Big government" is OK when its used to "keep minorities in a subordinate state" but imagine the hollering; yapping; crying; hand wringing, if the president order state governors to be drug tested, so expect this example of ignorance to backfire because this so-called "accountability fever" will cut both ways.

allhans
23546
Points
allhans 01/16/12 - 10:17 am
0
0
"But..chu know..what about

"But..chu know..what about the kids? I have 4 and no body to watch them." And all the while the boy friend is living in the house free loading.
I can hear it now.

allhans
23546
Points
allhans 01/16/12 - 10:20 am
0
0
jwarner6...Does this help?

jwarner6...Does this help? From the article:
".....require those receiving public benefits to be drug tested.."

Chillen
17
Points
Chillen 01/16/12 - 11:13 am
0
0
I think that the entire

I think that the entire entitlement program needs to be re-vamped. And by entitlements I mean money & benefits that you collect which you have not contributed to - such as food stamps, healthcare, paying people more to have babies, welfare, free housing, free higher education, utility payments, free cell phones, etc.

Those of us who show up to work every day to pay for the moochers are angry. And we are sick & tired of our paychecks being used to pay for the lifestyles of individuals who do not work and have no intention of working either. We are sick & tired of our paychecks being used by the liberals to buy votes from the welfare class for themselves.

I agree that there should be some sort of very short term safety net for humanitarian reasons - hey, I could need it myself some day. But I believe there should be a lifetime cap on these benefits of 3-6 months.

Otherwise you are just enslaving generation after generation of Americans into a lifestyle that is totally dependent on the U.S. Government. They are government slaves.

Feed the kids 3 meals a day, 365 days per year at the local public elementary schools until they are 18. Provide gently used shoes & clothes to them also through the schools (gathered through massive voluntary donation efforts). Then cut them loose too with the same lifetime entitlement cap that everyone else has.

Ramp up the technical high schools and stop telling everyone that they need to and deserve to go to college. Be realistic with people about their life's goals and stop blowing smoke up their behinds. Most of America is much better served by being taught how to repair a car, how to be a plumber or how to work in a factory than being given an A or a B by their teacher so they can go to college and then flunk out there or graduate from some joke of a "University" and then have doors closed in their face by potential employers.

Fix our youth and you fix America.

Stand back and watch independence, self reliance, self sufficiency and self respect to return to America. It will take a generation or so, but it WILL RETURN. We must start immediately.

Ozymandias
7
Points
Ozymandias 01/16/12 - 12:48 pm
0
0
I would have no problem

I would have no problem having those receiving public benefits take drug tests. It does seem strange that the majority of the these requests are geared to those getting public assistance in one form or another. Why not make it so the law makers and public servants (judges, commisioners, senators, representatvies etc.) are also included. "We the people" are their bosses as well and have a right to know if they are taking any illegal drugs.

vkimbrell
0
Points
vkimbrell 01/16/12 - 02:19 pm
0
0
The biggest public benefit is

The biggest public benefit is the roads. Everybody should be required to pee in a cup before getting on the roads!

vkimbrell
0
Points
vkimbrell 01/16/12 - 04:23 pm
0
0
The biggest public benefit is

The biggest public benefit is the roads. Everybody should be required to pee in a cup before getting on the roads!

itsanotherday1
42139
Points
itsanotherday1 01/16/12 - 04:55 pm
0
0
Only those who don't pay

Only those who don't pay income taxes for those roads vkimbrell....

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