I am very disappointed that liberal members of the Texas House killed this bill which would have ensured that those benefiting from public funding were not using that public funding to buy necessities, in order to use other assets to buy illegal drugs. The welfare system has become far too expansive. Instead of it being a safety net, these entitlements have become a way of life for many. While we have a duty to help those who cannot help themselves, we need to make the criteria for the receipt of government aid more stringent, and be sure not to enable a drug habit. This bill would have done just that.
The opposition to this bill was largely emotional, such as when Democrat Representative Chris Turner suggested it would be “adding insult to injury.” This demagoguery may help Rep. Turner politically, but it does not address the concern of a majority of Texans that individuals are getting government assistance which frees up other resources for them to support their illegal drug use. This position of using taxpayer money to ensure votes reminds me of Alexis De Tocqueville’s observation that “the American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers it can bribe the public with the public’s money.”
We must take common-sense steps to remove the systemic dependence on government programs and heavily revise the current welfare system through those measures we can control. We can start with better education of children, including more vocational training, in our schools. The current “top-down” system, which requires teaching to a test and trying to make Texas school districts a funnel for colleges and nothing more, does not recognize the various and unique talents and interests of the individual student. If we recognize the ability of this type of education, and help students earn skilled labor credentials in fields of real demand, such as plumbing or welding, we will then be setting them up for success. For example, a welder in the Eagle Ford Shale can make up to $1,700 a week. Skilled workers would not need, nor want, government assistance. Let’s start taking steps to break the cycle of government dependency with policies of “a hand up, not a hand out.”