When I was growing up, my mother made me write and send Thank You notes to each and every person who ever gave me a gift—Christmas gifts, birthday gifts, graduation gifts, you name it. It’s a habit I carried into adulthood. When my wife and I were married, we had Thank You cards in the mail within a week of the occasion. We have been blessed with a 24-year-old son. Ever since he’s been old enough to grasp a pen, he has been sending out Thank You cards for every gift received on every occasion. It’s only right and proper. Common decency and etiquette demand it. We must express our appreciation to those who have given to us.
I think every person on public assistance should be required to submit a heartfelt Thank You note to the taxpayer as a requirement of continued assistance. In order to receive the next welfare check or allotment of food stamps, each recipient should be required to submit a Thank You letter to their caseworker or local public assistance office, no fewer than 100 words, which would then be scanned and posted to a public website. This requirement would cover all forms of public assistance. An extra letter would be required for every publicly-funded visit to a doctor or emergency room. Non-citizens would not be exempted. And the letters would not be accepted nor credited until they were free of grammatical, punctuation, and spelling errors. When he was young, I reviewed all of my son’s Thank You letters and did not let him mail them until they are free of error.
If most of us, as a matter of common etiquette send Thank You notes to our benefactors, why shouldn’t welfare recipients be required to send Thank You notes to their benefactors, the taxpayers? One, it would do right by the taxpayers, who are without their consent, forced to subsidize the welfare recipient’s livelihood. Two, it would reinforce the principle among welfare recipients that someone, without their explicit permission, is paying for their rent, their groceries, and their medical bills. It would make them express their appreciation and make it publicly available for review by their benefactors, the taxpayers. And most importantly, it would place a requirement, however minimal, upon the welfare recipient for the continued receipt of benefits. Such a requirement would add a whole new meaning to the word “entitlement.”
–The Artful Dilettante