There are approximately 1.2 unfilled job openings for every unemployed American..
Should unemployment welfare pay more than your typical job? Those familiar with the basic economics of how incentives work would say no. So would anyone with moral objections to taking wealth from others to finance others’ idleness. But with the federal supplement to unemployment benefits set to finally end on Sept. 6, some progressives are raising the alarm.
For context, the program in question is a federal expansion of pre-existing state-level unemployment benefits. The expansion was originally passed at the height of the pandemic, in March of 2020. The expansion extended unemployment benefits to millions of new workers, such as gig economy workers and the unemployed. It also added a $600/week supplement—later reduced to $300/week—on top of what state-level benefits already paid. (Existing benefits vary state to state, typically from $200/week to $600/week). This expansion meant that many workers could earn more on welfare than they could from their regular jobs. Indeed, one study found that in dozens of states the average unemployed household could earn the equivalent of $25/hour on weekly benefits.
This creates a clear work disincentive.
It’s no coincidence that 9 of the top 10 states with the lowest unemployment rates have ended the benefits. And according to polls, more than 1.8 million unemployed Americans are not going back to work because of the benefits. If anything, that’s likely a significant underestimate, as people are likely biased against admitting to such lazy behavior.
As a result of the unemployment bonuses and other pandemic-related factors, small businesses are reporting massive labor shortages. The problem isn’t a lack of jobs. Right now there are approximately 1.2 unfilled job openings for every unemployed American!
But even given these realities, many progressives do not want the ultra-generous welfare scheme to expire. The New York Times’ ominous headline reads: “Federal Jobless Aid, a Lifeline to Millions, Reaches an End.” (Ah, yes, by returning welfare to normal levels that don’t pay more than work, we are “ripping away a lifeline,” or something. Can you tell how hard I’m rolling my eyes?)
“Losing a job is something that we know from research is one of the most damaging things to your financial and personal well-being over the long run,” Andrew Stettner, a senior fellow at the progressive think tank the Century Foundation, told the Times. “We’ve avoided those kinds of long-term impacts to a large part during the pandemic because we’ve been aggressive with our forms of support. Now we’re pulling it back, we’re putting people at risk.”
Progressive commentators have been similarly critical. MSNBC’s Mehdi Hasan, for example, called the lapse in benefits “madness,” and, because President Biden isn’t fighting for a renewal, “another self-destructive move from the Democrats.”
And left-wing lawmakers like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rep. Ilhan Omar have pushed behind the scenes in Congress for an 11th-hour extension of the benefits. (Although, thankfully, such an extension seems unlikely to occur.)
These proponents of making the “temporary” program stretch even longer toward permanency are wrong. Allowing the supplemented benefits to lapse does not pull the rug out from every unemployed person in America—it just returns benefits to normal levels and eligibility. The lapsed supplement simply reverses the woefully bad incentives and encourages the unemployed to return to work, where their return is in high demand because of the labor shortage.
There is no compelling economic case for subsidizing idleness at a rate exceeding work. Nor is there any moral case for forcing others to pay for the idle to enjoy relatively lavish incomes.
But the takeaway here is broader than just progressives being wrong about one welfare policy. This whole affair—the program being expanded again, again, and meeting tremendous backlash when finally allowed to lapse—is proof positive of the difficulty inherent in rolling back any expansion of the welfare state once implemented. As economist Ludwig von Mises once put it, “It is indeed one of the principal drawbacks of every kind of interventionism that it is so difficult to reverse the process.”
Simply put, once expanded, the welfare state is quite difficult to scale back. This is true even when the program in question is facially and obviously absurd, like paying people more money not to work than work. Don’t ever forget the tremendous difficulty, delay, and backlash that ending this unemployment welfare increase entailed. Remember it the next time progressive politicians propose a “temporary” expansion of the welfare state.
Brad Palumbo, Foundation for Economic Education
Catholic League president Bill Donohue has noted history’s great irony that “no segment of society punishes the poor more than those who champion their cause.”
In a scathing essay Tuesday, Dr. Donohue insists that the latest Marxist to “screw the poor” is New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who is undermining the cause of the lower classes by alienating those who generate wealth and create jobs.
De Blasio’s scheme to raise taxes on the rich in order to “redistribute wealth” and to close the “COVID achievement gap” is senseless, Donohue observes, since “the rich are leaving New York in droves” because of the city’s absurdly high taxes and taxing them at a higher rate “will only encourage more to leave.”
“They are taking their tax contributions and their jobs with them,” he adds.
Despite de Blasio’s claims, “fleecing the rich will do absolutely nothing to enhance academic achievement,” Donohue observes. “We have known for decades that there is no correlation between spending on students per capita and academic achievement.”
While de Blasio focuses on race, he turns a blind eye to the real causes of poverty and underachievement, Donohue asserts, noting that Asians are “people of color,” yet they have no problem succeeding in school.
“That’s because, unlike African Americans, the typical Asian family has a father and a mother at home,” he adds.
“So the ‘color’ argument that de Blasio favors — structural racism is holding blacks back — is completely false,” he continues. “Black kids from two-parent families are not failing in school. The real issue is the family, not race.”
Like others on the left, de Blasio cares more about upholding the public school monopoly and protecting the teachers’ union than helping kids.
If he really wanted poor kids to succeed in school, “he would spend money on charter schools, provide scholarships to private schools, endorse school choice, and allow the poor to enroll in Catholic schools,” Donohue observes. “Instead, he fights every initiative that works.”
While pretending to be a champion of the poor, de Blasio’s actions harm those he claims to defend.
Thus, he “drives the rich out of New York, shrinks the tax base, and does nothing to help the poor succeed in school,” Donohue notes.
Thomas D. Williams, Catholic League, Breitbart
We’re all familiar with the cycle of poverty in Black urban neighborhoods that Democrat politicians have run for decades. Everybody assumes it’s because Democrats are so wedded to their policies, they keep throwing good money after bad. Maybe that’s not the problem, though. Maybe Black Democrat politicians don’t want to help these areas, and the citizens in those areas don’t actually want to be helped.
“Diversity” and “inclusion” are two of the most often heard buzzwords in our lives these days, with a heavy helping coming from the media, of course. Tucker Carlson addressed the subject very well recently in an opinion piece where he discussed diversity versus the meritocracy, using Biden’s recently-announced cabinet selections to make his case. The evident theme for Joe Biden’s picks has nothing to do with whether his picks are actually qualified for their postings. Rather, that must check off the appropriate victim identity group box: female, Black, Hispanic, gay, trans, or (Jackpot!) a combination of two or more, where being a black Hispanic lesbian is the pinnacle of the victim hierarchy.
In particular, I noted in the public remarks made by soon-to-be repeat offender against our economy, Janet Yellen, that a big part of her focus as Fed Chair is to address economic inequality, wage inequality, food insecurity, poverty — all seemingly benevolent causes until you peel back the onion just slightly and realize that she’s not talking about these things in the scope of helping everyone, regardless of race. No, she’s specifically talking about “communities of color.” Just so we’re clear, a group of people is going to receive different (preferential) treatment based solely on the color of their skin. I’m pretty sure that’s called racism.
Yellen goes on to say that she also wants to provide more opportunities for people of color, because, she says in so many words, these opportunities are denied to people of color. She specifically states that opportunities are denied, so I must ask the question: Who exactly is doing the denying?
If we look at the largest areas of concentration of Black people, which would be the large urban centers of New York City, Washington D.C., Philadelphia, Baltimore, Chicago, and Detroit, just to name a few (and I’m not even crossing the Mississippi!), those areas presumably contain large numbers of black-owned businesses or at least Black people who would like to start a business . . . you know, they’d like to, but they’re being denied the opportunity. (I think we all know the subtext when someone is saying that “people of color” are being allegedly mistreated, the alleged mistreatment is at the hands of Evil White Conservatives.)
So, again, who is doing this denying? All of the major cities that I just listed, and dozens more just like them across the country, have been run for decades by Democrat mayors and city councils, with assistance from Democrat Congressmen on both a state and federal level. One must therefore assume that these same people in charge are also very influential regarding who receives economic opportunities or assistance, right? Thus, this horrible denying is being done, in fact, by the very people now crying about the fact that the denying is happening!
As usual, it takes mental gymnastics on an Olympic level to reconcile leftist thinking. Democrats have had control of these cities for decades and what have their policies brought their “people of color?” Misery, poverty, violence, and addiction. Obama and Biden had eight years, with two of those eight having the benefit of both houses of Congress on their side, but they didn’t come up with any miracle salve to soothe the troubles of the inner cities. What on earth would lead us to believe that this will be any different under Biden and Harris?
Or is it more practical and pragmatic if we believe that, via Occam’s Razor, the simplest answer is the correct one: These so-called leaders in Democrat-run enclaves have no real interest in helping their constituents pull themselves out of the cycle of poverty. For decades, Democrats have had their faithful Black voters right where they want them; namely, poor and dependent on the government. We give you stuff, you vote for us. That’s the unspoken agreement. But when a true leader finally comes around who has a plan and the political will to do something to help these communities — like Kimberly Klacik in the Baltimore Congressional district formerly ruled by the late Elijah Cummings — she receives a paltry 28% of the vote. Now the always useless 10-year Congressional veteran Kweisi Mfume has Cummings’s old job and somehow those precious opportunities are still being denied.
I’ve already established solid evidence that Democrat politicians — even and especially Black Democrat politicians — have little to no interest in helping their Black constituents. But there is another side to that coin. The evidence seems to show that Black people themselves appear to not want to be helped. One definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again while expecting different results. So, are Black voters in these areas insane? They keep voting for the likes of Sheila Jackson Lee, Maxine Waters, and Kweisi Mfume, but expect these serial grifters to suddenly start working for them.
In my eyes, that puts the blame squarely on both parties, the politicians and the voters who keep sending them back to their offices. Is it because the way things stand now, those voters are cozily wrapped up in their blanket of victimhood? Is it so comfy in there receiving their government subsistence handouts that they can’t be bothered to get out and do something about it? Is the alternative to this abusive, co-dependent relationship — personal responsibility, hard work, and entrepreneurialism — just too difficult to face?
My prediction for all of these cities that I’ve mentioned, and any other Democrat-run major cities around the country, is that if a Biden/Harris ticket sets up shop in the White House, in four years’ time those cities will look much the same as they do now, except with four more years’ worth of decay, addiction, and violent crime. But those citizens can comfort themselves that they still have someone else to blame for their problems.
H.P. Smith, American Thinker
VIDEO: Woman Finds Out She’s Approved for Welfare
Commentary: This video says it all. As I noted in yesterday’s post, there was a time when being on public assistance, like getting pregnant out of wedlock or going into rehab, was a source of embarrassment, or at least kept under wraps. And being on public assistance was a only a short-term fix, a temporary waystation till you put your life back together after losing a job or suffering a personal setback.
This is no temporary situation. This woman will be on the public dole till she reaches room temperature. She’ll spend her days watching soaps and eating bon-bons.
This woman is the face of the Culture of Dependency. The poster child of what we have become.
“Ben [Carson] wants to knock out Medicare,” said Donald Trump. “I heard that over the weekend. He wants to abolish Medicare. Abolishing Medicare, I don’t think you’ll get away with that one. It’s actually a program that’s worked. It’s a program that some people love, actually.” [Newsmax.com 10-27-15]
Actually, Carson does not propose abolishing Medicare. According to DailyCaller.com, he says he would not end Medicare and would use health savings accounts, which would eliminate “the need for people to be dependent on government programs.” Carson wants to “provide people with an alternative” that he describes as “so much better than anything else,” but added he doesn’t plan on ending Medicare completely.
Carson is under fire not for suggesting that we should privatize and phase out Medicare — which we should — but merely for hinting that we might provide an alternative to the coercive, government-run program. He’s under fire not just from Democrats, but from fellow Republicans, particularly Ohio Governor John Kasich and apparent front runner for the nomination, Donald Trump.
Is Trump right? Is Medicare popular and, if so, does that automatically make it morally right and fiscally sustainable?
Can’t a majority be wrong? And if they are, isn’t it the job of a leader — in politics, or anywhere else — to educate that majority as to why they’re wrong, and what the consequences of their errors are? Even if that means losing an election in one case (Republicans already lose anyway, even when they win), might it not become an advantage a few years down the road, when they’re shown to be right?
Medicare is a single-payer, socialized insurance plan for those 65 years and older. Back in 1965, Congress would have passed a single-payer plan for everyone, if they thought they had the votes. Even in 2010, Obama and the Democratic Congress would have passed a single payer plan, if they thought they had the votes. (Obamacare was the next best thing).
What nobody seems willing to examine — not even Ben Carson, who’s at least willing to slightly hint at it — is whether single-payer insurance is ever morally right, for seniors or for anyone?
Medicare is a coercive government monopoly. It’s even more communistic and socialistic than, say, public schools. With public schools, you can opt out. Granted, private schools are more expensive and in shorter supply than they otherwise would be, because government dominates the market with federally funded public schools. But it’s not against the law to send your child to a private school, or even home school, in many cases.
Not so with Medicare. With Medicare, once you turn 65, you’re on Medicare, like it or not. You have no right to purchase an alternative plan in the marketplace (or to have planned on one years before), because there is no marketplace, and it’s against the law. While there are “Medigap” plans (Medicare secondary insurance) available through quasi-private insurance companies, most people do not understand that those plans follow the rules of Medicare and the government, not the market. In other words, if your doctor or health provider does not participate with Medicare, then your secondary “Medigap” insurance will not cover that provider, either. And all the rules, edicts, regulations that apply to Medicare likewise apply to the secondary insurance.
Medicare is a monopoly. It’s a coercive, one-size-fits-all single-payer system. If Republicans running for President will not acknowledge this, then I don’t know who will. It’s a fact, all the same.
Is Medicare popular? Well, of course it is. People have no other choice. But “popularity” implies a willingness to choose one option over all others. If there are fifty restaurants in a town, one or two restaurants might draw 60 or even 75 percent of the diners. We’d call those restaurants the most popular, with good reason. Medicare is, according to the law of the land, the only option for seniors in health insurance. By what stretch do you call that popular, or say that people “love” it?
It’s reasonable to assume that most people on Medicare would not want the plug pulled on it overnight. I don’t know of anyone who’s proposing that. The only rational and just way to handle the problem is to phase Medicare out. Put young people on notice there will be no Medicare program for them, because there most certainly will not be anyway, given the fiscal unsustainability that its morally wrong and coercive approach creates. Unless the U.S. economy can find a way to sustain debts and deficits too high for economists or computers to calculate, or tax rates so high that the economy will grind to a complete halt, Medicare (like Social Security) cannot go on forever.
Debate should be open to how best, or in what way, start privatizing Medicare and all of health care in America. Until or unless we get to that point, no discussion of the subject makes any moral or economic sense. Even flailing about Obamacare does not address the core issue. If you want to privatize health care in America, you’ve got to take on Medicare.
Medicare’s fiscal unsustainability (freely acknowledged by the government, including Obama’s own Treasury Department) is not the worst thing about it. The worst thing about it is that it’s forced. It prevents people from freely acting as they otherwise would. Why are proponents of Medicare, Donald Trump included, so afraid of a free market, or even an alternative market as Ben Carson suggests we might need? If Medicare is as beloved and as great as they assume, nobody will ever opt out of it. Of course, even if we established health savings accounts for seniors as Carson proposes, it’s still not a fair competition, because government would still have the upper hand with its federally funded (albeit bankrupt) programs. Yet nobody can tolerate even this much competition with the government in health care, not even the vast majority of Republicans. It’s pathetic.
Donald Trump is supposed to be such a smart businessman, and so willing to speak his mind. Both of these things may be true. But his comment that Medicare is popular and beloved by seniors is laughable. If the government passed a law that people may buy only one kind of car — same size, color and model for everyone — would you call that brand and style of car popular? Even though that’s the only one they’re permitted to buy or own?
That’s exactly what Donald Trump and other Republicans are saying.
Without any meaningful or principled opposition to Medicare, Republicans are dead in the water on health care. We might as well have the Democrats in charge. These are their programs, and if socialism is morally justified in health care, then socialism is morally justified potentially anywhere. If Republicans really opposed socialism in principle, they’d be willing to take on or at least question the sacred cow of Medicare.—Michael J. Hurd, drhurd.com
Medicare: The Mother of All Generational Larceny by The Artful Dilettante
Medicare is the Big Enchilada, the mother of all generational larceny. Like most federal entitlement programs, Medicare is financed through long-term debt. In other words, the cost of every hip replacement, knee replacement, open-heart surgery, kidney replacement, indeed most eldercare, will be borne by our children and grandchildren, the young and unborn. Talk about taxation without representation. We older Americans love to talk about how much we love and spoil our progeny. We brag about their report cards and athletic prowess, and shower them with money and gifts well beyond anything they’ve done to deserve it. Yet we have no guilt, no mercy, and give not a second thought to them when it comes to passing along the costs of our old age onto them. Because of us, they will inherent a debt they will struggle and suffer their whole lives to pay. Our legacy is nothing less than making them slaves to debt. We all want to live to be 100 as long as someone else is footing the bill, bearing the consequences. Try asking an elderly person, “Who paid for your hip replacement?” and they’ll likely respond, “It was free,” or “The government paid for it.” Their response should accurately be, “My neighbor paid for it, and they didn’t even ask for his permission.” Or, “My newborn grandchild will be paying for it her whole life, and I don’t even care,” or how about, “My kids are paying for it. It’s part of their inheritance.” So don’t go around shouting from the rooftops how much you love and spoil your grandchildren. As long as you are mortgaging their future, you’re just blowing smoke. And making a lot of Wall Street bankers very happy.
One of the most misused words in the English language is “free,” as in “it’s free.” Whether it’s the free samples of stuff at Costco, or the free pens and refrigerator magnets they give away at your local bank or car dealership, or the free hip replacement your mother-in-law just received, we use the term freely, so to speak, without ever considering it’s true meaning. When we say “it’s free,” what we really mean is that someone else is paying for it—voluntarily or involuntarily. And this is a very important distinction. Because one is morally defensible, while the other is not. One involves a clear violation of private property rights, enshrined in the Seventh Commandment, while the other does not. The Seventh Commandment states, “Thou Shalt Not Steal Thy Neighbor’s Goods.” This is the clearest affirmation of private property rights ever handed down. By The Man Himself. And it’s etched in stone. You can’t take someone else’s things, period. And just because you take something from someone and turn around and give it to someone you believe is deserving doesn’t justify it either. The Seventh Commandment is everything the Good Lord ever had to say about “social justice,”–about what is mine and what is thine. Continue reading