Our mental plasticity just has age related limits.
I'd also debate the conclusion you're making on which approach is more patronizing. I'd assume giving you (and everyone) the means to make your own choices with money is less patronizing than appointing your specific job as a lost cause and appointing new jobs for you to go train yourself for.
also, on people's intrinsic motivations: people don't want money in and of itself. people want esteem (e.g., status) and influence (e.g., power). jobs and careers provide those things; handouts do not.