by Joseph B. Baity
Regardless of one’s perspective, the COVID-19 pandemic historically upended the global community. Of the many burdens the world has suffered in its wake, some of the greatest have been economic. In the United States, many businesses—large, medium, and small—were forced to shut down or dramatically scale back their operations for the best part of a year as much of society sheltered-in-place at home. Tragically, many of these businesses never reopened. Unemployment naturally skyrocketed to levels not seen since the Great Depression, and with that unemployment came widespread economic pain.
Responding to the many fiscal woes of the people, the federal government passed “emergency” legislation that authorized economic stimulus in the form of generous cash payments to the majority of all citizens, regardless of employment status. In addition to the cash payments, the government increased the weekly unemployment compensation payment and extended the duration of eligibility for receiving the benefit. In many cases, the monies provided by the government equaled or exceeded what an individual could earn by actually working. Many observers report that the political will exists to continue these stimulus payments as long as COVID-19 remains a threat to economic growth.
An additional “benefit,” quietly included in the federal legislation, is a drastic change in the child tax credit. Initially designed as a benefit (in the form of a tax deduction) for working, tax-paying parents, the credit has now been increased and changed into direct cash payments to the parent(s). More significantly, the legislation eliminates the work requirement. Once a tax credit for the employed, it is now a cash handout to all parents of young children, without regard to employment.
This proposed benefit is a colossal undertaking, especially if it is made permanent. All indications are that it will be if the Democrat party retains control over the executive and legislative branches of the federal government. The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank based in Washington, D.C., released a report describing the legislation:
If enacted permanently, the Biden cash grant plan would constitute the second-largest expansion of means-tested welfare entitlements in U.S. history. In constant dollars, its annual cost would dwarf the initial costs of the Medicaid, food stamp, and Aid to Families with Dependent Children programs. Only Obamacare would be more expensive.
Acton Institute’s Jordan J. Ballor surmises: “The creation of a new, permanent entitlement program for parents seems particularly unwise while our federal debt skyrockets and reform for already existing entitlement programs is so desperately needed.”
Oren Cass’ article, “The Biden and Romney Family Plans Go Too Far,” in The New York Times on March 2, 2021, opines:
To be clear, America should provide basic necessities to those who cannot provide for themselves. . . . But the safety net’s assistance should not replicate the income associated with engaging productively in the society. . . . A generous cash benefit disconnected from work can also be economically and culturally counterproductive. Work plays a critical role in people’s lives as a source of purpose, structure, and social interaction; a prerequisite for upward mobility and a foundation of family formation and stability.
The news and social media overflow with anecdotal reports from employers who have recently reopened their businesses but cannot rehire old employees or find new ones because they cannot compete with the cash “benefits” paid by the federal government.
Richard Giacovas, reporting for Fox5NewYork.com on March 31, 2021, quotes restaurant owner Dean O’Neil, who has struggled to staff his restaurant recently: “I couldn’t work out really why. And then I found it was basically they could receive money without having to work.”
Tyler Durden from ZeroHedge.com opines in an April 9, 2021, article:
The trillions in Biden stimulus are now incentivizing potential workers not to seek gainful employment, but to sit back and collect the next stimmy check for doing absolutely nothing in what is becoming the world’s greatest “under the radar” experiment in Universal Basic Income. . . . Early in the Covid-19 pandemic, Melissa Anderson laid off all three full-time employees of her jewelry-making company, Silver Chest Creations in Burkesville, KY. She tried to rehire one of them in September and another in January as business recovered, but they refused to come back, she says. “They’re not looking for work.”
U.S. history is replete with the efforts of conscientious men and women rolling up their sleeves and working to overcome almost any crisis at hand. But powerful, secular, anti-God winds are blowing, and the era of big government is back in vogue in Washington, D.C. With that, we are witnessing a purposeful pivot away from our Judeo-Christian heritage and its conservative, capitalist roots toward liberal, interventionist, and even socialist policies that will eventually bankrupt the country—fiscally and morally. Moreover, if our incentive for employment is taken away, we oppose our Creator’s design for us and abandon one of His greatest gifts—work—while slipping into indolent oblivion (Genesis 1:26; 2:15; Proverbs 19:15; Ecclesiastes 5:18; John 5:17).