Business/Economy, Columnists, Coronavirus, Jon Caldara, Politics

Caldara: Polis paying people not to work as jobs go unfilled

Employment brings dignity, identity and purpose to one’s life.

On the other hand, dependency brings depression, listlessness and too often mental issues and even suicide.

How devastating is unemployment? I recently learned from the good folks at the Georgia Center for Opportunity of a landmark study published in The Economic Journal showing that unemployment might be the only major life event from which people do not fully recover within five years.

This study followed 130,000 people for several decades, allowing researchers to analyze the ways major life events such as marriage, divorce, birth of a child, or death of a spouse affect our life satisfaction over time.

Turns out we humans are a resilient bunch. They found that even in the wake of some of life’s most tragic events, including the death of a spouse, after a few years people do recover to the same level of well-being they had before.

But this was not the case for those who were unemployed for a prolonged period of time, particularly men.

Please take a moment to digest that. You can survive the death of your spouse better than you can survive prolonged unemployment.

Try looking your wife in her eyes and tell her, “Honey, I’d rather you die than me being unemployed for a long time.” That is how important a job is.

Then why has our governor worked so hard to get so many Coloradans unemployed?

Don’t tell me he hasn’t. He literally ordered people not to work. He decided whose job was essential and whose was not, though it is self-evident that all jobs are essential.

He ordered nearly all businesses be shuttered, displacing workers. Many of those business, especially in the service industry, went out of business permanently. Those employees won’t be coming back.

The best-paying manual-labor jobs in the state were in the oil and gas fields. But he signed legislation like last year’s Senate Bill 181 putting our energy industry in a death-noose.

He signed bills raising the minimum wage, crippling entry-level opportunities. He championed tobacco and vape taxes which will put smoke shops out of business. He signed a bill to stop pet shops from selling dogs.

He did nothing to stop a massive payroll tax hike for “family leave” which will make the cost of hiring prohibitive for many business owners.

When Jared Polis took office, Colorado was in the top five of all states for employment. According to The Committee to Unleash Prosperity, run by his own very close friend, the renowned economist Art Laffer, the state dropped into the bottom five.

And just to make sure good people stay unemployed, he continues to pay them not to work even though there is a record number of job openings.

Economic policy at its core is not a difficult concept. What you tax or punish you get less of; what you subsidize or encourage you get more of.

Twenty-one other governors are stopping the extended federal unemployment benefits of an extra $300 a week through September. Not Jared Polis.

Encouraging people to avoid finding a job while there is a tsunami of jobs to be had is depraved.

Polis certainly is smarter than this. This lack of leadership is only explained by his unwillingness to stand up to the socialist wing of his caucus.

Then in classic “heads government wins, tails taxpayers lose” fashion, Governor Unemployment tries to promote getting people off their couches and into a job by…spending more of your money.

Via executive order he is going to give up to $1,600 to get the couch-surfers he is encouraging to stay on unemployment benefits to get a job.

Passing on commenting about his propensity to spend money without legislative approval for a moment, let’s look at the confused policy goals here. Spend someone else’s cash to pay to not get a job AND to get a job. Clearly shows how he values those working hard to pay taxes, doesn’t it?

So, what would you choose, an extra $300 a week for 15 weeks WITHOUT having to work, that’s $4,500, or $1,600 to go to work now?

Even people on unemployment can do simple math.

Please, Governor Unemployment, stop spending our money to keep able people from bringing dignity to their lives.

Jon Caldara is president of the Independence Institute, a free market think tank in Denver.


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