But this natural response actually stems from an understanding that it is a basic right for a man to enjoy the rewards of his own labor. If a man works twice as hard as his neighbor or is more skillful, is it really fair or just to say that that individual should be entitled to keep less of what he earns?
That is not to say that conservatives should forget about the poor and needy, but here again, their arguments should rest on principle not politics. There is no right to be taken care of (except among children, the severely disabled or very old). But there is a moral obligation -- for the individual and community -- to take care of those who cannot take care of themselves. So, too, is there a moral obligation on the part of the individual not to take advantage of others' charity to avoid taking care of himself and his family -- if at all possible. Conservatives too often act as if the problem with social welfare programs is that they cost too much, rather than to point out the way in which they breach both moral obligation and responsibility.
It's not too late for conservatives to try to make these arguments -- but first they have to understand them and believe them themselves. Conservatives shouldn't concede the justice or fairness arguments of liberals; they should tackle them head on.
Linda Chavez is the author of "An Unlikely Conservative: The Transformation of an Ex-Liberal." To find out more about Linda Chavez, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
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Linda Chavez is chairman of the Center for Equal Opportunity and author of Betrayal: How Union Bosses Shake Down Their Members and Corrupt American Politics .
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