We now live in a world where companies make you pay a subscription for everything. It’s always an amount that’s small enough that you shrug and think it’s harmless. A few bucks a month for Netflix, a couple dollars for Amazon prime and a little bit more to backup your cloud storage. All the sudden you have no idea why your money’s gone and forget half of the things you subscribed to. The other part of that is we never delete these items and stop paying because it is inconvenient or we may someday pick it back up. I think that this is a good analogy for where we are with pandemic policy and government assistance. Most Americans just received a second round of payments from Washington and Biden is proposing more immediately.
First of all, politicians have done a good job of elevating their usefulness during the pandemic. They forced tens of millions into isolation and disallowed schools, restaurants, many small businesses, sporting events, concerts and other social gatherings. Then, since many were unable to work, we expanded unemployment insurance, offered business grants and direct payments to taxpayers. The argument is that ‘it’s not your fault that you can’t pay your bills and we’re here to help.’ Politicians are correct. It is not the taxpayer’s fault, it’s the politicians in DC and state/ local areas that did not allow people to earn a living. Politicians grabbed the fire extinguisher, started a fire and then said ‘hey, look there’s a fire. Also, I have the extinguisher and am the only person that can save you.’
The spending from the government has been in numbers that are really astronomical and difficult to even process. We are becoming numb to proposed spending bills that are in the trillions of dollars. The money going out to individuals so far is about $1800 per person over two payments, which really doesn’t replace lost wages. It is a small amount on an individual basis that helps those struggling but only marginally. So when these payments go out, our attitude is almost dismissive. To the federal government, however, that is several hundred million dollars, if not over a trillion. Us, the individual see the payment as something small and relatively harmless. We seem to be putting our hand back out asking our leaders for more.
Instead of doing the easy thing and staying on our couch, letting the federal stimulus roll in, we need to unsubscribe. We need to signal to our elected officials that we prefer to run our businesses, go to school, go out to restaurants and make our own decisions on where we spend our money. We need to put out the fire and call out our leaders for starting the fire. If we become accustomed to being paid a few bucks in the name of safety, we will pay long term. Economically, everyday Americans will be paying higher taxes, our government debt will become a riskier asset (more expensive to repay), the government will not be able to pay for other services – such as our defense – and unemployment will be higher for longer. It will also further perpetuate the belief by the government that they can just offer constituents free things and we will nod and vote for them.
I say that this is on the people to unsubscribe because politicians will never offer that as an option. Those on the right pretend to be fiscally conservative but, that’s hard to believe at this point. It’s also virtually impossible to run against someone who is offering more free stuff while you are out there pleading for responsibility and turning off the money printer. It’s also a matter of whether you want to return to the normality and relative independence you once had. You have to decide that you can make decisions on safety and how to make a living for yourselves and whether that currency outweighs the supplemental amount that the government is offering.
We are a country that claims to be skeptical of large government, and wants to be left alone to make our own decisions and live our lives unimpeded. The American people rolled over nearly a year ago and trusted our leaders when they asked us to stay in for a few weeks. Maybe, based on known information and projections on the virus’ consequences, the decision made some sense. The issue is that those in power typically have a hard time dialing it back on their own. This is the traditional concern of the American people.
Continuing to offer payments and services to enhance our lives and keep us safe are easy ways to slide the scale of power towards government. Hopefully it is not too late for this to change. Rules are being set and consequences implemented for those who do not follow the rules there for your “safety.” Now that the conversation has shifted from “flatten the curve” to “prove that you’re vaccinated,” it might be difficult to believe that government officials really want to loosen their grip on the country.