Many fellow Senators and I spent years in the Legislature trying to convince our peers that government must be run like a business and that, in order to create prosperity for the people, government must stay out of the free market and let business do its job. What it took us a while to realize was that politicians yearn for the rush that even a small bit of control and authority gives them. Therefore, to ask them to forgo that power in favor of freedom for the people and the free market for the economy was liking asking an addict to go cold turkey. It just was not going to happen.
Ronald Reagan said it best “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the Government, and I’m here to help.”
The last few weeks have demonstrated what a ridiculous carnival government can truly be. It all started when Congress passed the CARES Act. Among its major elements was a guarantee of a $600-a-week boost to regular unemployment insurance for payout to laid off workers. That part was to help the unemployed, but few considered the consequences of making unemployment be more lucrative than employment.
Next Congress included the PPP program. This program assured a forgivable loan to any business who kept their employees on the payroll for 60 days. It was designed to keep employees on the payroll so that when businesses opened, they would be available to go back to work. Virtually no thought was given to the reality that 60 days of rent and utilities brought little relief to small businesses that had no customers.
The idiocy of these conflicting programs is that employees soon discovered that they could make way more just sitting at home on unemployment than they could from their usual salary. And it was that usual salary that PPP was supposed to ensure. So, at the end of 60 days businesses will not qualify for loan forgiveness because understandably they cannot get their workers back on their payroll. Now businesses are faced with having to repay in some cases huge loans that they had thought were going to be forgiven. The result will be massive numbers of defaults and bankruptcies, leaving those many workers out of work permanently! Did I say idiocy?
Government must act like a business. It must run its programs based on effectively delivering effective services at the lowest cost, not using limitless funds to prop up social and economic equality as defined by the very politicians and bureaucrats who write the check. By forcing through a bill that paid $600 a week to the unemployed, Democrats destroyed the PPP concept and the result will wreck large numbers of restaurants and businesses that employ lower wage people, leaving them more damaged than they were before.
Just as important government, must stay out of the free market. History has shown that it was not the stock market crash that caused the Great Depression, it was out of control post-crash government intrusion that caused the disaster. The Great Recession was not triggered by greedy businesses (though they certainly aggravated the situation), it was triggered by unwise social engineering that through liberal legislation attempted to create home ownership by forcing banks to lend to those who otherwise were not qualified. The more government “help” during the COVID-19 recession, the more businesses will be forced to close.
In times of an economic retrenchment such as a recession government invariably seizes the opportunity to incrementally increase its intrusion into the free market and into individual freedom. This intrusion takes the form of expanding mindless social spending, most of which never contracts even after the event recedes and through expanded government regulation.
This COVID-19 event has shattered all records of economic retrenchment. We have literally put trillions of dollars on our national credit card for future generations to pay with off through higher taxes and lower prosperity. We have legitimized government intrusion into our personal and business freedoms. We have created a groundwork for ill-conceived liberal social engineering that will take decades, if at all, to unwind. Social engineering that will sap the economic strength from our country and will make us ever less competitive in the world marketplace.
And why? Because, though wrapped in the important cloak of public health, politicians absolutely live for the rush that comes from exhibiting control and authority even if it is unwarranted. And politicians take advantage of the hurt felt by the people to ensure their own political longevity.
Don’t believe me, just read through the hypocrisy that is the latest Democratic bill brought to us by Nancy Pelosi. Little for COVID-19 relief, plenty of liberal giveaways.
If government feels an obligation to insert itself, then just as medical professionals do, it must adhere to an old oath to “First do no harm.” To do that government is better to let the free market rebuild the economy and to create more freedom for people, not less. Some businesses will fail, and some employees will lose their old jobs. But at the end, if as usual government intrudes, the effect will be negative.
Freedom from government “help” assures that the economy will recover to its natural level quicker and jobs will be created sooner.