In Philadelphia, your local school may become a one-stop welfare center if proposed city council legislation becomes law. The Department of Public Health, the Department of Parks and Recreation, the Philadelphia Housing Authority, and several mayoral programs that hand out food subsidies to low-income households would all be present at selected schools under the proposed bill. Why? Because “services should be provided in a coordinated, comprehensive manner, and ideally at one nearby location so that children, and their parents, grandparents, or guardians do not have to expend precious time and resources navigating from one agency to another.” These ” neighborhood-based community hubs” would “increase the likelihood that those children would thrive both in school and in their homes.” Junior, Dad, and Grandma all together collecting government handouts.

One wonders if it was a freudian admission of guilt on the part of city council members by bringing 3 generations of potential welfare candidates together at their proposed community “hubs”, or if it was a defiant salute to those who believe in personal responsibility. More disturbingly, it may not have been either. Maybe council members supporting the bill didn’t even consider the fact. Maybe they share the view of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation in the UK whose study decided that 3 generation welfare families was a myth after carefully interviewing 20 unemployed families and asking them about their aspirations for themselves and their children. The causes of long-term persistent unemployment was found to be the result of “complex, multiple problems associated with living in deep poverty over years.” And what were these complex problems? Educational underachievement, problematic drug and alcohol use – as opposed to recreational drug and alcohol use??, offending (as in criminal) and imprisonment, domestic violence and family instability, and physical and mental ill-health. Maybe these people consistently made the wrong choices and ended up ruining their lives?

Yes, poverty sucks. No, it is not easy to work your way out of poverty or to overcome joblessness, but perhaps government subsidies should not be too easy or convenient if they do have to exist. The meaning of the term entitlement deals precisely with the problem of temporary aid or subsidies to those who are truly desperate becoming seen and demanded as legitimate rights owed to the recipients on the back of working taxpayers. At the end of that road of course one finds the hideous phrase “from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs.” This wretched slogan was in fact coined by French socialist Louis Blanc and greedily taken up and disseminated by Marx with the resulting wreckage in lives ruined or lost littered across the 20th century. Perhaps Philadelphia in reverence to its historic role in the forging of liberty and personal freedom would let its city council know that one-stop welfare shopping might not be the best solution to chronic unemployment.

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