Implicit in the argument that people who are unwilling to work have forfeited their claim to economic security is that work is available. But jobs may not always be available, both for people who are willing to work and those who aren’t, particularly during economic downturns. During the Great Recession, there were over six unemployed workers for every job opening.
Another major challenge in weighing the balance between responsibility and economic security is what to do about the hard cases. How should policy handle the situation where a person is truly unwilling to work? Or a person who loses his job and won’t realistically be successfully retrained, but who is a decade away from retirement?