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Biting the Hand that Feeds

Every few hours, new facts emerge about the Boston Marathon bombers. While much has been made of their family, studies and religion, on Tuesday night we learned that American taxpayers helped finance them.

Marathon bombings mastermind Tamerlan Tsarnaev was living on taxpayer-funded state welfare benefits even as he was delving deep into the world of radical anti-American Islamism...

State officials confirmed last night that Tsarnaev, slain in a raging gun battle with police last Friday, was receiving benefits along with his wife, Katherine Russell Tsarnaev, and their 3-year-old daughter. The state’s Executive Office of Health and Human Services said those benefits ended in 2012 when the couple stopped meeting income eligibility limits. Russell Tsarnaev’s attorney has claimed Katherine — who had converted to Islam — was working up to 80 hours a week as a home health aide while Tsarnaev stayed at home.

In addition, both of Tsarnaev’s parents received benefits, and accused brother bombers Dzhokhar and Tamerlan were recipients through their parents when they were younger, according to the state.

You picked a fine way of repaying your debt to society, guys.

Worse still, Tamerlan was still collecting benefits when he took his fateful trip to Dagestan, where he is thought to have attended a radical mosque. In other words, Massachusetts residents may have paid a long-time resident to become a radical terrorist.

The deadly April 15 attack prompted a number of questions concerning security, immigration rules and police procedures. But this latest revelation is sure to outrage all taxpayers — not just fans of limited government. Massachusetts Health and Human Services declined to specify the types of benefits or the amounts paid out, but public pressure may force the agency’s hand.

Most Americans would expect immigrants from a war-torn nation to appreciate the country that took them in. And if the new land also lavished them with funds and perks, you’d expect undying gratitude. Instead, America received terror.

While the brutality of the Boston attack was exceptional, a person biting the hand that feeds them is not. The fact is that dependency often breeds contempt.

When government treats adults as children, some recipients learn to lay back and game the system. But eventually many yield to resentment and anger. Psychologists have repeatedly shown that getting something for nothing actually harms an individual’s psyche.

While many exhibit low self-esteem through passive means, others can be much more aggressive. In the 2011 London Riots, a massive dependent class set sections of the British capital ablaze, trashing and looting their way through their own neighborhoods. These criminals weren’t seeking to right wrongs or change policy — destroying property was the only way impotent wards of the state could feel powerful. Nicking an HDTV was the only "accomplishment" these people had in years.

Obviously, public assistance alone didn’t radicalize the Brothers Tsarnaev or cause them to plant those bombs. But neither did it make them even slightly thankful to the taxpayers, state government or America in general. The people of Massachusetts deserve a full accounting of where their dollars went and why.

Follow Jon on Twitter at @ExJon.