After seeing Eric Ethington’s rebuttal to my critique of his piece, my initial inclination was to challenge Ethington to a Burr-Hamilton style duel. But my wife vetoed the idea, citing only our inadequate life insurance coverage. I am therefore limited to prose-based response. Here goes.
Ethington first alleges I ignored his accusation that the GOP is engaged in a “War On The Poor.” To the extent this “War” is reflected in HB 155, I made it clear that Republicans and Democrats were both complicit in its waging. No defense of the GOP, therefore, was necessary.
The irony of Ethington levying a broad, generalized accusation against the GOP, of course, is that his original piece denounced the evils of stereotypes and generalizations as applied to the underprivileged. The double standard is palpable.
Ethington goes on to refute my assertion that there is no implicit presumption that the poor are more inclined to drug use. He argues that there is no requirement for other recipients of taxpayer funds such as state employees, legislators and business owners receiving government funds to undergo a drug test. So why apply a different standard to the poor seeking welfare benefits? The answer is simple.
The critical distinction is the examples cited are instances where the recipient offers something of benefit in exchange for funds. State employees provide a service and in return receive a paycheck. Legislators offer their time and talents to represent those that elect them and a (paltry) payment follows. And a business owner receiving government funds creates jobs that ultimately grow the economy and increase the taxpayer base.
In contrast, a welfare recipient does not offer any direct, tangible benefit in exchange for funds received; the benefit conferred is a one way street.
Ethington’s suggestion that a welfare recipient is on equal footing with those providing services to government is a microcosm of the fundamental difference between modern liberalism and conservatism. Liberals see government entitlements as a right—something they qualify for by simply fogging a mirror. Conservatives view them as a privilege at best and a potentially destructive force on society and liberty at worse.
Conservatives believe as Lincoln did: “Government should do for people what they can't do for themselves and no more.” To do otherwise is to undermine the self-reliance and liberty of individuals and families (not to mention the financial strain put on federal and state governments). In those cases where a government benefit is extended, it should be offered in limited circumstances where need and worthiness are proven—with the burden of proof lying with those seeking the privilege. And there is always the option to not participate in the program if the qualification process is seen as too onerous or a violation of one’s rights.
Some people call this a war on the poor.
I call it responsible governance.