It’s time for Americans to get back to work

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When it comes to the great American work ethic, our country is hurtling down the wrong path. The Biden administration is putting America into an increasingly dangerous situation by expanding the class of people who simply don’t want to work, preferring instead to simply collect government checks.

Economic support following the COVID-19 pandemic has morphed into a monster. The flow of cash into the pockets of many Americans — courtesy of our government — threatens to blow up the U.S. deficit and create a generation of slackers who would rather sit at home watching reality TV than to rejoin the real world where people work to make a living. 

When the pandemic struck, the virus decimated not just the U.S. economy but the global economy. The U.S. government was right to take far-reaching measures to combat a soaring unemployment rate that peaked at 14.8 percent in April 2020, a stunning high not seen since 1948 when data collection started. 

But with the introduction of COVID-19 vaccines and their rapid distribution, the unemployment rate dropped to just 6.7 percent in December 2020. 

Today the national unemployment rate is approximately 6 percent. Yet, many Americans are still not returning to work. Businesses report they cannot find workers to fill necessary jobs, and some who once held these jobs remain at home collecting government assistance. What’s happening and who is responsible?

We all agree that the pandemic was an unprecedented disaster of epic proportions. The shutdown of our economy was like nothing we had seen in modern history. But unfortunately, some of the measures that were taken to prop people up during a time of need are holding them back in a time of want.  

The government’s extensions of pandemic unemployment relief are continuing indefinitely. This “generosity” — courtesy of all of us who pay taxes — is having the unfortunate effect of creating a class of people who have decided that they are better off not returning to their jobs. 

In March, President Biden signed into law the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. The action ‎provides for a third extension of the CARES Act unemployment provision, this time until Sept. 6, 2021. 

The first CARES Act extended unemployment benefits to gig workers, who previously were ineligible for such benefits, and provided benefits for an additional 13 weeks to anyone out of a job because of the pandemic. It also increased the weekly monetary benefit to $600 for jobs lost to COVID-19. 

Those benefits, which ended in July 2020, were re-upped in December 2020 under the CARES Act II and extended through March 2021, though the $600 was halved to $300.  

Entrepreneurs and small business owners across the country are having trouble finding employees, especially in industries that rely heavily upon unskilled workers who fetch low wages. They are having a tough time bringing back their staff or hiring new people. 

In Hollywood, Fla., one restaurant so desperate for help has begun using robots to escort guests to their seats and transport food to their tables. The owner of Mr. Q Crab House told the Sun Sentinel that her former employees would “rather sit at home and collect unemployment.” So instead of anticipating their return, she invested $30,000 in three robots to supplement her staff. Other restaurants across the country are offering employee sign-on bonuses but still can’t find takers willing to put in an honest day’s work. 

Other employers have noted that former employees are staying home because they can make more money on unemployment than they did at work. This makes sense only if you are someone who is OK with sitting at home all day doing nothing. Under the generous unemployment benefits, people are opting to make enough to get by, without having to work. Why should anyone go to the trouble of having to get a job if they can indefinitely receive money for doing nothing at all?

It is a sad state of affairs, because the American Dream is predicated on the premise that dreams can come true if you work hard. But that idea is being turned on its head in the United States today.

The Biden administration’s policies may create a permanent class of Americans who don’t want to achieve the American Dream — or want one that is not predicated on hard work. For them, the American Dream may be to bide their time and accept federal handouts for the foreseeable future.

America needs to give her citizens a hand up, not handouts. It’s high time that men and women cut the cord of welfare dependence and get back into the workforce. Our policymakers must start cutting off the reliance on government programs, which taxpayers are not in a position to fund anyway. After all, we have created a deficit that already runs into the trillions of dollars. 

The American economy could roar back now that roughly half of all Americans have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. But businesses are crying out for help — not from the government but from unmotivated people with no incentive to forgo Uncle Sam’s “free money.”  

We must immediately undertake a full-throttle effort to get American workers back on the job. Sitting at home, spending government checks, is a sure-fire pathway to financial ruin.

Armstrong Williams (@ARightSide) is the owner and manager of Howard Stirk Holdings I & II Broadcast Television Stations and the 2016 Multicultural Media Broadcast Owner of the Year. He is the author of “Reawakening Virtues.”

Tags American Rescue Plan Act CARES Act economy Joe Biden Unemployment benefits
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