This used to be a self-reliant country. When people suffered either through physical maladies or economic challenges, they turned to their neighbors, community, or religion-based organizations to help them through. The onset of COVID has collapsed the mores of most Americans. Now accepting government help has not only lost its stigma, but it has also become acceptable no matter your economic status.
As you know, initially we were told our economy would shut down for fifteen days. That was a fallacy. Then when the federal government canceled mandates, many Governors stepped in and elongated the period which put millions of Americans out of work. We were told these rules were saving lives, but the infection spread and will continue to spread and will never go away. It has become endemic. The shutdowns forestalled the inevitable medically but redefined our lives economically.
Governments from the federal level on down determined that, since they were disrupting so many people’s lives and cutting off their self-supporting resources, they had to give us handouts. They came in many forms – direct deposits, tax credits, PPP loans, enhanced unemployment benefits, and more. There were definitively people in need for a period, but that largely ended a long time ago. Many of the handouts did not.
What we have seen is that people who neither have the need nor in the past would not have taken government handouts have been dipping their toes (some their entire body) into the freebie trough.
To give people the benefit of the doubt, there was a period of uncertainty in the beginning but did not last for most people. That is because we only had two months of an economic downturn. That is not even close to being an official “recession,” defined as two consecutive quarters of an economic downturn, not two months. There are vocations, like performers and actors, who were completely shut down and only recently able to perform with many still hampered. Most of them are not financially stable enough to endure such a blow to their incomes.
We are not just addressing the people who stayed out of work because of excessive, prolonged unemployment benefits and rental eviction moratoriums. Many of these people took the opportunity to pay off their credit card balances while not meeting their other obligations like their landlords.
We are talking about people who took unemployment benefits when they had spouses still earning significant money. Even if they did not have spouses making money, they had adequate resources to continue their lifestyles without impediment. The government expanded unemployment benefits to self-employed individuals even though they were not part of the insurance system and did not pay into the fund. Otherwise, pure welfare.
There are people who had an excellent year in 2020 due to their PPP loans who went back to the trough and got a second PPP loan or Employment Retention Credits (ERC) in 2021. They took the benefits because there is an attitude today that others are taking the benefits; if I do not, I will be paying for their benefits and losing out. And why not? “Why not” used to be because there was a societal agreement these benefits were only for people in real need. Now it seems most everyone is feeding at the trough.
The state of California decided to add additional freebies instead of using a surplus to pay down debt or keep the money for an inevitable downturn or God forbid return the excess funds to the people who paid the excess taxes. Instead, they decided to provide breakfast and lunch for all students without income limitations in public schools. That concept alone warrants a full analysis, but we will only address a NYT commentary.
The New York Times has a daily column called California Today. On Friday October 1, 2021, it was written by Soumya Karlamangla. When addressing the reason for making every student at public schools eligible for free breakfast and lunch she wrote: “Families also felt stigma. Some had been reluctant to fill out the needed paperwork because they didn’t want to rely on government benefits.” Stigma? What about, “we don’t need help from the government so why take it?” Now every child in a public school has become a ward of the state. Why not keep them around and give them dinner also?
Many of the proposed programs that the Leftists want to add in the $2.0 trillion (or is it $4.0 trillion?) are not income-limited like most programs have been in the past. Many of the existing benefit programs have been stripped of work requirements.
The Leftists want to make us dependent on government benefits. It seems virtually everyone is playing along. It has become every person for themselves and damn the country.
When did we become such a selfish, non-self-reliant country?