Why stop at work requirements for food and health care? Let's go all the way | Opinion

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin announces federal approval of Kentucky's Medicaid waiver in the Capitol Rotunda in Frankfort, Ky., Jan. 12, 2018. Kentucky became the first state to require many of its Medicaid recipients to work to receive coverage. 

I'm fed up with lazy, poor families who mooch off industrious citizens and waste our hard-earned tax dollars. I agree with Sen. John Kennedy: They aren't entitled to health care through the state's Medicaid system.
Unemployment and laziness shouldn't be rewarded. Let them get sick or injured and, if they survive, they'll better understand the value of work. After the heart disease passes, they will apply the lessons they've learned as they rush out to find a job.
If the worst happens, at least their orphaned children will have learned a valuable lesson: The only way society should treat you as a human being worthy of life is if you are employed.
And I agree with Rep. Garret Graves, R-Baton Rouge: If the poor won't work, they don't deserve food assistance. Going hungry for a few weeks will not only encourage mom and dad to get up and work; the malnutrition and hunger pains should also teach the kids a lesson they won't forget.
It's just like Jesus said when he fed the hungry multitu
de: "Those with a job get a fish and a loaf."
These humane, sensible policies have inspired me to propose some additional reforms:
Why should taxpayers educate children of parents who don't work? Let's begin each school year by turning away all children whose parents are unemployed. Forcing mom and dad to homeschool them will teach the kids the value of a job.
Those of us who work pay good money to build and maintain roads and bridges. Let's establish toll booths along the highways and allow only those with jobs to drive on them. Why should poor people freeload by using the roadways you and I paid for?
My hard-earned tax money supports the police department. When my house is burglarized, I expect the cops to show up and help me. But why should someone who doesn't work summon the authorities to provide him protection? If you're not working, you don't deserve free services from the police.
The same applies to fire protection. Do you know how much it costs to buy and maintain a fire truck? They're not cheap. And the salaries of the firefighters are expensive, too. I propose that all fire departments maintain a list of employed people. If the firefighters refuse to save your burning house because you don't work, that will be an incentive for you to find a job so you can build a new home.
Do you see how absurd and perverse this kind of thinking is?
The right to life and security is not transactional in a just, compassionate society, especially one patterned after biblical, Christian principles.
One problem with many proposals to enforce work requirements for public services is that they are motivated, not by a desire to help the poor but, rather, to punish them under the mistaken assumption they are lazy or morally defective.
I was encouraged by a recent op-ed in the Baton Rouge Advocate by Dr. Rebekah Gee, Gov. John Bel Edwards' secretary of Health and Hospitals. Edwards has been talking about work and educational requirements for Louisiana Medicaid recipients. Gee's characterization of the plan (still in the works) was reassuring.
"We want all Louisianans to have the opportunity to advance themselves and their families' well-being through the dignity of work," Gee wrote. "We intend to fashion a Louisiana-specific Medicaid work-engagement program to do just that. We are now developing a plan to require smart community engagement, focused on reasonable ways to incentivize and support work, volunteering or self-improvement through education or skill building."
This approach is not only compassionate; it's also smart. It recognizes that the vast majority of Medicaid recipients work. And those who are unemployed don't need lectures on morality from lawmakers who think they are superior. 
Almost everyone who is poor longs for the dignity of a job. And most working poor people put in more hours at their (multiple) jobs than many politicians who would punish them. Isn't it strange that the political leaders who rail about the "lazy" poor are often the same people who are so stingy with the educational assistance that might help them find a decent job?
Treating poverty as a character defect might resonate with those who believe success is entirely the result of hard work and native intelligence. Those capable of more serious reflection -- and humility -- know that's almost never the case.
Poverty is akin to a communicable disease. It can be cured or alleviated with the right treatment. But just as punishing people with the flu won't cure their illness, neither will treating hunger or unemployment as a moral failing eliminate its root causes.

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