As a nation, we'll never know when we've hit rock bottom until it's too late. History will know when we've reached that dismal point. Unfortunately, I suspect at the time we'll just plod along and witness the decay of a civilization that held so much promise.
A good starting point may be in New York (surprise!) where a plan is under way to pay poor residents for good behavior. Under an experimental project recently announced in the Big Apple, poor residents will get financial rewards for doing well on a school test, for holding a job or for visiting a doctor. And we're not talking petty cash here - the cost of the program is a cool $53 million.
Here are some other ways to earn some extra cash in New York. Attend a parent-teacher conference and pick up $25. Graduate high school and collect $400. See a dentist every six months and collect $100.
So we've finally hit the jackpot. We now have to pay people to live responsible lives. Granted, it's just another crazy idea from those fine city folk but it exposes the ugly reality of our society.
Now here's an interesting twist. The critics of the idea say a cash reward program is wrong because "they promote the misguided idea that poor people could be successful if they just made better choices." Did I read that right?
One social "expert" - who by the way will be part of the Clinton administration if the New York Senator wins in '08 - says that the cash program "reinforces the impression that if everybody would just work hard enough and change their personal behavior we could solve poverty in this country."
Boy am I behind the times! Go figure. I have always been under the obviously mistaken impression that if people did work harder and did accept personal responsibility, then yes indeed, we could reduce poverty. Gosh, I'm so glad this Clinton "expert" showed me the light on this matter.
It's a grand idea to reward accomplishments. It works. But we're talking about fundamental personal responsibility here. That's a whole different matter.
If you have to pay someone to take just a minute's interest in their child's education, that seems fundamentally wrong. And isn't there some irony in rewarding someone for visiting a dentist when, in fact, the Medicaid program is paying for that visit in the first place?
Let's try this concept. Quit buying products from China and instead manufacture those items here. That will provide jobs, which will reduce poverty which will make this silly reward program unnecessary.