The result? Overnight, welfare agencies became job-placement offices. People who had been trapped in dependence began seeking employment. Between 1996 and 2009, caseloads dropped from 4.5 million families to 1.7 million. Employment for single mothers also increased dramatically.
There’s still much work to be done -- and thanks to the Obama administration, the number of federal welfare programs with work requirements is down to two -- but it was an important step in the right direction.
By the same token, conservatives oppose corporate bailouts. Companies should be allowed to fail. If government agrees to the special pleading of corporate lobbyists and ensures corporations against irresponsible behavior, it only encourages more irresponsible corporate behavior -- and more corporate bailouts.
We need to return to some very old, very basic truths. Welfare programs should create no sense of entitlement to an endless stream of handouts. Business laws and regulations should cause no expectation of future bailouts. Otherwise, the soaring costs will eventually ruin us, both morally and financially.
A “something for nothing” approach begets a culture of subservience and dependence and undermines self-reliance, self-discipline and self-respect -- traditional virtues that have always been vital components of the American spirit.