Dan Popp
By Dan Popp
July 20, 2010

Government "help" to business is just as disastrous as government persecution... the only way a government can be of service to national prosperity is by keeping its hands off. — Ayn Rand

Government help to the unemployed is just as disastrous as government help to business, or government help to unwed mothers, or government help to foreign countries, or to the homeless, or college students, or farmers, or sick people. Surely that's because help is not what government was created to do. It is the wrong tool for the job.

Government is a justice institution, not a mercy institution (Romans 13). Mercy institutions are things like churches and hospitals. Countries don't wage war by unleashing their hospitals. You wouldn't task churches with solving crimes. Why, then, would you try to use government to help people?

George Washington famously said, "Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master." This must be why government attempts at charity produce disastrous results. This kind of help does not heal; it wounds.

"Government is an association of men who do violence to the rest of us," wrote Leo Tolstoy.

Now here we are again, with Congress and the President threatening to "help" the unemployed for the fourth or fifth time. Of course the party of upside-down syndrome is delirious over yet another chance to play Robin Hood. But the pachyderms are perfectly willing to go along — as long as the robbery is "paid for."

Not, as long as it's allowed under the Constitution.

Not, as long as it doesn't make the unemployment situation worse.

Only, as long as we can ignore our founding principles and the immutable laws of the universe.

Some months back I wrote that as government aid to the unemployed rises, unemployment rises. No one yet has been able to refute that assertion.

Some sources say that the effect is pronounced, and negative.

Others say that the effect is positive — that high unemployment is "not a bad thing."

And some say (in an "analysis" so devoid of evidence that it appears to be mere wishful thinking) that the effect is minimal.

But there is acknowledgment across the ideological spectrum that when the government increases or extends unemployment benefits, more people are out of work.

This is a statistic, not an opinion. It's not a Conservative fact or a Liberal fact; it's just a fact. Yet when you repeat it, people will say that you're a mean person. They will create crude straw men for immolation: You're saying that the unemployed are all deadbeats! (Note the magical word "all" that conveniently appears out of nowhere.) Even some Republican talking heads have said that they don't believe that the unemployed are taking advantage of more free money to lie around on the couch; of course they really do want to work — there just aren't any jobs.

But this accepts the bogus paradigm of the barbarians. It's not about whether all, or even some, unemployed people are deadbeats. It's about maximizing your outcomes in the given situation. The Slate article linked above celebrates the fact that more unemployment compensation lets people take their time to find just the right job, so I don't know how Leftists, much less others, can deny it with a straight face.

But they do. The brain-dead will scream, "No one would choose to live on 'unemployment!' " — as if a government check eliminated all other possible means of sustaining life. (By the way, it's always funny when Leftists accuse others of "seeing everything in black and white," because in my experience it's usually they who are trapped in binary thinking.) OK, let's stipulate that no one would want to live entirely on an unemployment check. But many people do live pretty comfortably on an unemployment check plus their spouse's income, plus their savings, plus gifts from relatives, plus sales of assets, plus non-reported income, plus private charity, etc. etc.

If your choice is between taking a job far below your skill level and accustomed wage; and accepting an unemployment check and waiting for something better to come along, a lot of non-deadbeat people will take Option B, thank you very much. This is just human nature. If there is any humiliation left to being on the dole, it's cancelled out by the humiliation of taking a job as a "burger flipper." This stigma comes directly from the godless crowd who talk about "meaningful work" and "a living wage" and "dignity," as if the universe owes us just the kind of situation we believe we deserve. This paganization of our culture has cost us dearly — I mean the loss of the idea of vocation; that to work is to pray; that all honest work is meaningful and blessed and dignified; and that providing for one's family is holy.

Jobs are available. They may be far from ideal jobs right now, but more and better jobs will not come along until the government ceases its attack on business, quits transferring money from the productive to the non-productive, and stops subsidizing joblessness.

Call me names if that makes you feel better. But as they said in a certain movie, "those are the facts of the case, and they are not in dispute."

© Dan Popp


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