Americans are more than happy to provide assistance to the aged, the disabled and others who can’t find gainful employment, but they also recognize the dignity of work and believe that those who can work, should work.

Americans want to help those who can’t help themselves, or are going through a rough patch, but they don’t want to support healthy adults and allow them to live off government welfare programs permanently. Those are the opinions of Dr. Ben Carson, a retired neurosurgeon who is also the former secretary of housing and urban development from 2017-21.

According to the most recent Giving USA report, Americans gave more than $470 billion to charity in 2020. They also spend more than a billion hours every year volunteering for charitable organizations, Dr. Carson wrote in a recent Wall Street Journal column.

In addition, taxpayers support the less fortunate to the tune of trillions of dollars through various federal, state and local welfare programs. Dr. Carson says conservatives oppose congressional Democrats who want to decouple welfare from work, undermining the American work ethic.

Tying public benefits to paid work prevents people from abusing American generosity. FDR’s New Deal was a jobs program, not welfare programs. Welfare programs undermine the American work ethic.

In the 1990s, President Bill Clinton signed the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996. The act required welfare recipients to start working within two years of receiving benefits and made few exceptions.

Dr. Carson says this reduced welfare rolls, increased employment, and decreased child poverty. Millions of Americans rediscovered the rewards of meaningful work because the government was no longer paying them to stay out of the workforce.

Tying public aid to work helps American society flourish. As President Ronald Reagan said, “The best social program is a job.” When people work it means more economic activity. Work supports habits of responsibility and instills a belief in self-reliance.

The Barack Obama Administration began the misguided movement by giving states the ability to waive the work requirements that had helped many working class people achieve self-sufficiency.

President Joe Biden and progressive congressional Democrats pushing the socialist agenda want to spend hundreds of billions more to expand existing social programs or create new ones with virtually no requirement that able-bodied adults work as a condition of receiving benefits.

The progressive movement is towards greater welfare programs, and as a result, many Americans have found it easier to stay on welfare than to get a job. This is to the detriment of those who can work and to the rest of us as well, Dr. Carson warns.

Social scientist Arthur Brooks has identified meaningful work as one of the keys to happiness, writing that “vocation is central to the American ideal, the root of the aphorism that we live to work while others work to live. It is important in the family dynamic to hold a full-time job as a key step to entering the middle class.”

President Biden wasn’t elected to move the country to the far left. He was elected because voters were dissatisfied with Donald Trump and hoped he would lower the political temperature and seek common ground. Instead they are getting divisive rhetoric.

The November elections were a wake-up call. Americans are worried about crime, inflation and the consequences of distance learning. Winning candidates put forward common-sense solutions to reduce taxes, secure communities and expand school choice.