This idiocy also ignores the fact that, next to the UK, the US has the lowest rate of social mobility in the industrialized world. Do you think this is because poor people have a lazy gene that gets passed from generation to generation or might it be that those that come from wealth have the economic and social support networks to acquire the skills and relationships necessary to achieve and maintain their socio-economic status? E.g., a family that has the wealth to send kids to university without incurring student debt, to be able to focus 100% on school and networking because they can avoid having to work a p/t job while in school, etc... A family that lives in an area with good elementary and high schools so the child has the skills to be successful when they do go to university? A family that lets the child avoid student loans, so when they're done with school you aren't saddled with 10s of thousands of dollars of debt as you begin your post-school life. A family where there isn't regular violence so the student can concentrate on school work without fear of abuse?
“At virtually every level, education in America tends to perpetuate rather than compensate for existing inequalities. The reasons are threefold. First, the K through 12education system is simply not very strong and thus is not an effective way to break the link between parental background and a child’s eventual success. … Second, because K–12 education is financed largely at the state and local level, resources devoted to education are closely linked with where people live and with the property wealth of their neighbors. For this and other reasons, poor children tend to go to poor schools and more advantaged children to good schools. … Finally, access both to a quality preschool experience and to higher education continues to depend quite directly on family resources.” 2006 Policy Brief of the Brookings Institution, Isabel Sawhill (2006:3)
Concession: The libertarian/conservative does have some legitimate concerns when it comes to the possibility that certain types of welfare programs can create learned helplessness (i.e., welfare culture). There is empirical support for this but by and large, the proportion of people who abuse welfare programs is dwarfed by the number of people that don't (depending on the program, there is between 3 and 10% fraud). Add to this that the proportion of the population actually on welfare is very small (4%)--especially if you consider current economic conditions.
Even if certain welfare programs do promote learned helplessness, this is not an argument against welfare programs, but an argument against certain program designs. There are many ways to address chronic poverty through welfare policy. The main predictors of how long someone will stay on welfare are their job skills and education. If these two variables aren't simultaneously addressed while assistance is given, the likelihood of the recipient coming off welfare goes up dramatically. To assume they stay on welfare because they are lazy is to ignore these statistics. Without job skills and education how can we expect such individuals to enter the job market and become self-sufficient?