Our politicians are turning us into a nation of aimless, useless people

For me, work is a reason to get up in the morning that defines me as a useful and competent person.  It is a moral and dignified way to support myself and my family, and part of my being a useful member of society.  However, thanks to the economic policies the federal and state governments enacted during the past two years, we not only destroyed the economy and wiped out thriving small businesses, but also converted millions of Americans into idlers who will not work if the government subsidizes them.

A dangerous misconception driving the professional classes in academia and politics is that everyone wants the good things in life: a professional reputation, a nice home, a good car (electric is best, of course), and money to have fun on vacations, nights out, etc.  To achieve these goals, people willingly work in a nice office environment or at home for a decent paycheck.  They believe these goals and workstyles are every American's dream and aspiration.  They are so very, very wrong.

I have a friend who, like me, has worked her entire life.  However, her life choices have meant that she doesn't hang out with the professional class.  Instead, her friends have less pleasant jobs.  Their paychecks are smaller, and their work is both less satisfying and more physically demanding than in the professional classes.

But it's not the quality of the jobs that divides her friends from my world.  It's what her friends want from life.  Their goals, often, are beer, pot, a car that runs, and a rental home in a neighborhood that's not downright dangerous.

Because these are minimal desires, many have discovered that they can achieve them without working at all.  If your needs are few, government handouts will do.

My friend recently told me that two young men of her acquaintance have given up work entirely in the past year or so.  One was a short-order cook, and the other was in construction, and both hated their jobs.  Losing those jobs due to COVID restrictions and then getting a no-strings-attached check that covered their minimal expenses was a revelation to them.  Neither has any intention of returning to work again if the free money continues to flow their way.

What's most striking is that these young men are no longer limited to a narrow subclass.  They are the face of myriad Americans who have discovered the joy of government subsidy checks.

Image: Now hiring by Rick Obst.  CC BY 2.0.

E.J. Antoni, an economist at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, has written a fascinating article about the long-term damage from COVID-era policies, a toxic blend of destroyed jobs and free money.  (Hat tip: Instapundit.)

It's bad enough when politicians enact witless economic policies with huge price tags, but it's even worse when those policies destroy American lives and livelihoods. New research shows that this will be the pandemic-era legacy of the politicians that forcibly closed businesses, made people stay home, then incentivized millions of out-of-work Americans to give up the opportunity to get their lives back on track.

It's now clear that half the states kept destructive policies in place even after their devastating effects were known. What should have been a temporary bridge to keep people afloat while America tackled COVID-19 became a nightmare of dependence and depression.

The problem was that the COVID checks often exceeded people's paychecks:

Eliminating people's jobs and paying them to be unemployed was robbing millions of Americans of the dignity that comes with finding purpose and achieving self-sufficiency. It destroyed lives, driving dependency on government, contributing to drug and alcohol addiction, and exacerbating isolation and depression.

(And as noted, I know that many of these people already considered drugs and alcohol a primary pleasure in life.)

Twenty-six states realized that destroying incentives to work was disastrous and stopped handouts.  Democrat states, however, did not, and we know now just how poorly they've served their citizens:

But new research from the Texas Public Policy Foundation shows that the states that ended the benefits early had superior job growth, ending the soul-crushing dependency inflicted upon millions by the misguided policy.  By the end of 2021, only Texas and three other states that ended the bonuses early had regained all the jobs that they lost during the pandemic.

In the states that continued paying the unemployment bonuses through September 2021, job growth was anemic. Roughly 3 million more people stayed on unemployment in states that maintained the increase in benefits versus the states that ended the program early.

One doesn't need to be an economist to know that if you pay people not to work at unsatisfying jobs, they won't.  Leftists may feel smug about freeing people from such jobs, but you've also destroyed those people's dignity, self-reliance, ambition, and maturity, turning them, instead, into selfish children looking at dead-end futures.

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