Over the last 225 years, the promise of America was rooted in the principle of opportunity, which transformed the world. The principle unleashed capitalism and created unparalleled prosperity. For the first time in the history of the world, people could choose what they wanted to accomplish with their life without a monarch or patriarchal system deciding their fate for them. Still, opportunity never guaranteed prosperity, nor did most people want it to. Yet, over the last decade, something in America changed.
Since the 1980s, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has been espousing his socialist views. Still, most people inside or outside of Congress didn’t take him seriously. He believes, like most on the Left, that opportunity for prosperity isn’t enough. Instead, Sanders and his legion of Democratic socialists say that equal outcomes are the way to prosperity. It defies logic since prosperity has classes, and no one can achieve a true equal outcome. That’s why the government must do it.
During the early stages of the pandemic, the Left used public health and safety measures as a guinea pig. Unfortunately, too many Republicans were all too willing to join them under the auspices that the government had a responsibility to “help” people after mostly liberal states shut down their economies and ordered people to stay home.
Now, the country is in a unique crisis. Too many former workers are still refusing to leave the comfort of their homes as they sit on the sidelines enjoying government benefits. At the same time, unfilled job openings are still at record highs, and employers have increased wages and benefits to entice potential employees.
So, what’s the problem?
Once again, the government empowered the disincentive to work. Some Americans make more money doing nothing. They get their money from tax dollars instead of from employers.
A new study conducted by several economists in December showed that welfare programs and government-provided health insurance in some blue states contributed to a changing society. It found that in 24 states, unemployment and government health insurance subsidies for a family of four, with both parents not working, equaled, at a minimum, the national median household income.
Some of the specifics showed that government benefits contributed to a nice lifestyle. So, how much government money were some people getting in various states?
- Washington: $122,653
- Massachusetts: $117,063
- New Jersey: $108,857
In four other states, people received between $90,000 and $99,000. In seven others, it was over $80,000.
In most states, this money is tax-free according to both federal and state laws.
Here’s the real kicker — in some states with income restrictions, there is no incentive to take any job because it would disqualify one from receiving the benefits if they had an income.
There is a difference between helping someone short-term and giving them an extraordinary lifestyle off the public dime. What the government has done is reveal a few things:
- Equality may no longer exist. It’s been replaced with the leftist ideals of equity — which is proving to be an unequal treatment of Americans by the government.
- Politicians have trapped a generation of Americans in a state of government dependency.
By eroding the promise of America that everyone has equal opportunities, politicians have trapped too many people in hopelessness and despair. Studies show that people are experiencing all-time highs for mental health problems as a result of government actions before and after the pandemic.
Real human happiness doesn’t come through government intrusion, despite its best motives. Those the government seeks to help it often hurts the worst.
What happens to people dependent on the government when it can no longer sustain these budget-busting social-welfare programs?
Perhaps just as big a problem, conservatives must stop looking at people who use government programs as leeches or deadbeats. They are human beings who are not a burden to society. They are an untapped resource of opportunity that need investments, not handouts.
The central solution to the problem of government dependency and poverty is work — which is a blessing and not a punishment. It’s the means to a fulfilling and dignified life. The investment in people comes through apprenticeships, trade schools, and small business ownership. What people need and want at their core is an opportunity, not an equal outcome.
I know this is true because I’ve asked people on the streets what their dreams are. Not one said it was to live off the government dime. Yet, for most, they lost the ability to dream.
We don’t need Washington, DC, or a statehouse to provide for us, let alone kill our hopes for a better tomorrow. We need the government to unleash every person’s potential through their God-given talents, skills, and acquired abilities. The solutions are there, but difficult decisions must be made.
So, I already hear some saying, Don, what do you propose we do? In 2017, the Heritage Foundation detailed how big government policies hurt the poor and addressed specific government policies that could make a difference in creating opportunities for all Americans. I recommend you take a look at them.
The American dream is that the next generation can be better off than the prior one. It doesn’t have to die. Ultimately, whether it does or not is solely dependent on every single American.