Most parents learn this the hard way with their children.
Those in government sometimes learn it. It seems this former administrator of New York City’s welfare program, Robert Doar, gets it, too, as evidenced by his piece in the Wall Street Journal.
I am not an economist, but one likely reason for the dismal labor-force participation is that many U.S. assistance programs act more like work replacements than work supports.
Consider the 45 million recipients of food stamps. While touring the country with the National Commission on Hunger, I often heard from recipients that the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program was good at providing electronic-benefit transfer cards, but not so effective at helping them get a job.