Dan Kennedy

We desperately need more honest public discussion. Calling acts of terrorism and war against America, intended to mass-murder us “man-caused disasters” is embarrassing. Arguing over the merits of extending government run health care to illegal immigrants is insane; what part of the word “illegal” is incomprehensible or ambiguous? Extending some version of “the Twinkie defense” for every imaginable act of irresponsibility is not helping us at all. Somali pirates aren’t at fault; they’re poor, and deserve our compassionate understanding. At what point do we raise the matter of personal responsibility?

A report in my Sunday paper, The Cleveland Plain Dealer, says 1 in 8 Americans receive food stamps – 1 in 8. Liberals would say it is shameful for America, the richest nation on earth to permit 1 of every 8 of its citizens to live in such poor conditions. We need to say it is shameful for many of these food stamp recipients to be in such a situation and to continue relying on hand-outs. We need to ask them what they are doing to remedy their situation, to improve their circumstances.

I am not insensitive to those in temporary trouble; when I was young, my parents were on food stamps for about two months. I know trouble can arrive uninvited. But I also know that, among these 1 in 8, are huge numbers of long-term losers not exerting the slightest effort to fix their problems and get off the dole. And we have methodically removed the shame and stigma, even the inconvenience of getting the hand-out; it is electronically deposited to food-stamp cards on the 1st of each month – a time that Wal-Mart reports a sales surge. There’s no shame in being broke. There is shame in staying broke, in this, the richest-in-opportunity nation on earth.

So far it looks like the new decade, even more than the last, will be one of tolerating, sanctioning, accepting – even celebrating – entitlement, victimhood, and abdication of personal responsibility. It’s an unsustainable philosophy for the nation. If it is accepted as norm, financial and moral bankruptcy will inevitably follow. If we are rich in excuses, we’ll be rich in nothing else.

Dan Kennedy

Dan Kennedy is a serial entrepreneur and contributor to the Business & Media Institute.