When it comes to the great American work ethic, our country is hurtling down the wrong path. The Biden administration is putting America into an increasingly dangerous situation by creating a permanent class of people who simply don't want to work, preferring instead to sit at home and collect government checks.
Economic support following the COVID-19 pandemic has morphed into a monster. The unfettered flow of cash into the pockets of Americans — courtesy of our government — is blowing up the deficit and creating a generation of slackers who prefer to sit home and watch reality TV instead of rejoining the real world where people work to make a living.
When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, the raging virus decimated not just the U.S. economy but the global economy. The U.S. government was right to take far-reaching measures to combat a soaring unemployment rate that peaked at 14.8% in April 2020, a stunning high not seen since 1948, when data collection started.
But with the introduction of vaccines and the rapid deployment of medical personnel to distribute them, the unemployment rate dropped to just 6.7% in December 2020.
Today, the national unemployment rate is approximately 6%. Yet, Americans are still not returning to work. Many businesses cannot find workers to fill necessary jobs, while Americans who once held those jobs remain at home collecting government checks. What's happening and who is responsible?
We all agree that the coronavirus pandemic — and the resulting economic shutdown — was an unprecedented disaster. Unfortunately, some of the measures that were taken to prop people up during a time of need are holding them back in a time of want.
The government's generous extensions of pandemic unemployment relief are continuing to be extended. This "generosity" — courtesy of all of us who pay taxes — is having the unfortunate effect of creating a class of people who have decided that they are better off collecting government assistance than returning to their jobs.
In March 2021, President Joe Biden signed into law the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. The action provides for a third extension of the CARES Act unemployment provision, this time from March 14, 2021 until Sept. 6, 2021.
The first CARES Act extended unemployment benefits to gig workers, who had previously been ineligible for such benefits and extended benefits an additional 13 weeks for everyone. It also increased the weekly monetary benefit to jobs lost to COVID-19 to $600.
Those benefits, which ended in July 2020, were reupped in December 2020 under the CARES Act II and extended through March of 2021. The $600 was halved to $300. The CARES Act II extended benefits through September 2021.
Entrepreneurs and small-business owners across the country are having trouble finding employees, especially in industries that rely heavily upon unskilled workers who fetch low wages. They are having an impossible time bringing back their staff and hiring new people.
In Hollywood, Florida, one restaurant desperate for help has begun using robots to escort guests to their seats and transport food to their tables. The owner of Mr. Q Crab House told the Sun Sentinel her former employees would "rather sit at home and collect unemployment." So, instead of continuing to wait, she invested $30,000 in three robots to supplement her staff. Other restaurants across the country are offering employee sign-on bonuses, yet still can't find takers willing to put in an honest day's work.
Other employers have noted that former employees are staying home collecting unemployment because they are making more on unemployment than they did at work.
This only makes sense if you are someone that is OK with making less and sitting home all day doing nothing. Under the current generous unemployment benefits, people are opting to make less, but enough to get by, without having to work. Why should anyone go to the trouble of having to get a job if they can indefinitely receive money for doing nothing?
It is a very sad state of affairs, because the American dream is predicated on the premise that dreams can come true if you work hard. But that idea is being turned on its head.
The Biden administration and its current policies are creating a permanent class of Americans who don't want the American dream — or at least not one that is predicated on hard work. For them, the American dream is to bide their time and accept federal handouts.
It's high time that men and women cut the cord of welfare dependence and get back into the workforce. Our policymakers must start cutting off the pathetic reliance on government programs, which America is not in a position to fund anyway. After all, we have already created a deficit running wildly into the trillions of dollars.
The American economy is ready to roar back now that roughly half of all Americans are vaccinated. But businesses are crying out for help, not from the government but from unmotivated people with no incentive to forego free money courtesy of Uncle Sam.
We must immediately undertake a full-throttle effort to get American workers back on their feet by returning them to jobs. Sitting at home cashing government checks is a sure-fire pathway to financial ruin.
To find out more about Armstrong Williams and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
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