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Plenty for all at the government teat

America is drowning in a flood of government benefits — and the water is getting deeper. The chasm of distinction between need and sloth has narrowed to a hairline fracture that U.S. politicians rarely step on.

Take heart America, our government programs may consign folks to a lifetime on the dole — but they sure build up self-esteem. Shame, stigma, or personal responsibility bothering you? Don’t worry, there will soon be a government program to ease your pain.

The stigma of government dependence is gone. I’m not sharp enough to figure out where it went and why, but it’s plainly evident: Government has turned into an El Dorado for the masses. Black, white, brown, old, young, male, female, transgendered — there’s room for all on the government teat.

Somewhere along America’s path to cradle-to-grave care, self-sufficiency fell out of the wagon. We’ve reached a point where government benefits are championed in society — name it and claim it. It’s either laugh or cry as an increasing number of states allow EBT-payment at fast-food restaurants: McDonald’s, Dominos, Subway, Pizza Hut and many more. In a recent press release, USDA admitted to sending letters [3] to the CEOs of Craigslist, eBay, Facebook and Twitter, asking for help in preventing online sales of food stamps/SNAP benefits. Something smells terribly rotten when our government has to ask eBay for help in nabbing benefit cheaters.

We’ve become a nation that feasts on handouts and bailouts, garnished with attitudes of expectation and entitlement. A few years ago, after the birth of our first child, my wife and I were approached on multiple occasions by friends offering unsolicited advice about how to get on WIC (Women, Infants and Children nutrition program) and qualify for benefits. I had been under the illusion that we should simply tighten the financial belt and make do. It was the same old boilerplate logic they offered: “If they’re giving it away, just get in line.” I then made the mistake of telling some relatives about the WIC advice; turned out they were proud devotees of the program. Ironic — these same relatives constantly complained about welfare recipients.

Anyhow, it’s a surreal state of affairs when the supposedly impoverished have satellite television, SUVs, Xboxes, and the latest iPod. I suppose that after paying for all those, the WIC assistance really does help fill the gaps in the family budget.

In the latest sign of the me-generation apocalypse, Washington, D.C. school officials have sailed away on a ship of fools. They’ve come up with a jaw-dropping plan to get kids in summer school: Pay them. That’s right; D.C. is using tax money to pay the kids $5.25 per hour to attend class.

The Washington Examiner reports that when the program began and only 95 kids signed up, officials went to the employment office (DCPS) and hauled in 305 ringers: “More than 300 students flagged by DCPS and who had signed up for the Summer Youth Employment Program were told that school would be their jobs this summer.” According to school officials, there are plans to expand the program in 2013. No doubt the students are hopeful of a much deserved raise next summer.

Here’s even more macabre comedy from the Examiner: “This summer isn't the first time the city has paid students to learn. The District allowed a Harvard University group to pay about 3,000 middle-school students up to $100 a month for good grades during the 2008-09 and 2009-10 school years. Grades overall didn't improve significantly.”

We’re now paying kids to attend school in the U.S.A.? Come one, come all, there’s plenty for everyone at the government teat.