There’s enough uncertainty around these days to drive us all crazy. But there’s one thing you can count on as sure as the rising sun: The GOP’s continued assault on the character of the American people. To hear them tell it, we’re nothing but a bunch of lazy, entitled takers.
In case you haven’t heard, we’re slowly coming out of the worst pandemic in a century. Our lives have been turned upside down in every which way imaginable. Lives were lost, people got sick, kids couldn’t go to school. On and on I could go. The year 2020 will go down in infamy as one of the worst on record.
And the economy was, of course, one of the biggest losers as far as how the pandemic played out. We lost 20 million jobs during the peak of the lockdowns back in April of last year. Slowly but surely, we’re coming out of the abyss. But it’s going to take time.
What we hear from the national media, though, and by default, today’s radical GOP, the generous unemployment benefits, recently continued with President Biden’s American Rescue Plan, is holding back our economy because people don’t want to work. They’d rather take the additional benefits instead.
That was the narrative I woke up to last Friday as the jobs report announced a less than expected 266k jobs created. Initially, the projection was for over a million jobs. For sure, a disappointing result. And MSNBC’s headline on the TV screen said it all: Breaking News: Shocking Jobs Report!
I added the exclamation point for effect, but that’s how the discussion played out. Stephanie Ruhle interviewed one of Biden’s key economic advisors, Heather Boushey, as I turned on the tube. She was twisting herself in a pretzel to get Ms. Boushey to admit that the extended unemployment benefits were a significant factor in employers not finding willing workers.
To her credit, Ms. Boushey was not taking the bait. She explained that they did not see any evidence that the extra benefits were having that kind of effect. What they were seeing was much more complex and not easy to explain.
She’s right; it’s not easy to explain. And while Ms. Ruhle did mention some of the other factors, she seemed intent on pushing GOP talking points that the American people don’t want to work, especially if they’re receiving money from the federal government.
Once again, though, the answer is not wrapped up in a black, and white blanket like the radical right wants you to think it is. It’s much more complex as to why some Americans are not fighting to get back to work.
Indeed, there are several factors. For one, many children are still not back in school. Daycare, or lack thereof, is undoubtedly a factor. Women, in particular, have been battered, given that they are still usually the primary caregivers in our society. Thus, since many schools and daycares have not fully reopened, there’s bound to be sluggish job participation for the foreseeable future. Hopefully, some of this will improve going forward, and there’s help in this area in Biden’s Rescue Plan that still hasn’t come to full fruition.
In addition, supply-chain bottlenecks are constraining production in critical industries, such as the manufacturing sector, which shed 18k jobs last month, indicating continuing weakness in that category.
And another situation could also be at play. Workers who lost their jobs in specific industries might be looking for other opportunities. Maybe the last year was an eye-opener to these folks. Perhaps they’ve determined what they were doing before isn’t what they want to do in the future.
The health care industry, for one, was perhaps one of the hardest hit during the pandemic. Burnout from long hours, not to mention the depressing nature of so much loss of life and suffering, most certainly could be a significant factor.
And can we please point out the obvious? Isn’t it more than a viable possibility that people are still scared as hell to get back to work? After all, last month was just the beginning, really, of America starting to open up — albeit slowly at that. And while vaccination rates were still rising, we’re still nowhere near where we need to be as far as herd immunity is concerned.
The point here is not to say that extended job benefits aren’t contributing to slowing job growth. They most certainly are, but perhaps one of the reasons is that workers are sick and tired of making crap wages. Maybe they’d like to go back to work but will do so only when employers start sweetening the pot. It appears they are slowly doing just that.
In other words, the jobs report from last month offers up an array of factors as to why the jobs created were so much lower than expected. But you won’t hear much about that from the far-right and their favorite media no-nothing hosts over at Fox News. No, they’d much like you to believe it’s because ‘socialist’ Biden is giving us money so we can sit on our asses and collect the proceeds.
This narrative that we’re a bunch of lazy takers is nothing new, especially in today’s iteration of the Republican Party. The resentment they’ve cultivated for decades now, especially in rural America, is worse than it’s ever been. Time and again, whenever Democrats propose legislation that helps working people in some way, the other side opposes it. We’re one step closer to full-fledged socialism, they say.
In many ways, it’s the same thing we used to hear back in the Reagan era. Remember his welfare queen rhetoric? You know, those people want to keep having babies to make more money from Uncle Sam. How about those folks on food stamps who stand in line at grocery stores with their steak and lobster? Believe me when I say that millions still believe this BS about people in this country.
I’m going to go out on a limb here to say that I believe in the American people much more than our GOP friends do. I think you’ll see our economy start to rejuvenate at a much faster rate. Slowly but surely, Covid appears on a path to which we’ll be able to see it still, but only in the rearview mirror.
Yes, if we do not vaccinate enough people, that could indeed change the trajectory. But so far, the current administration is doing a phenomenal job in getting shots in arms. They take it seriously, unlike the previous guy. There’s no reason to think the American people will not rise to the occasion. They’ll go back to work in due time.
So when you hear the far-right, and even some in the mainstream media, unfortunately, try to tell you millions of Americans are far too eager to sit around collecting from big brother, don’t listen to it for a minute. Research before coming to any conclusions.
We didn’t get into this pandemic overnight. And we aren’t going to end it that way. This once-in-a-lifetime plague took away so much from us. It’s going to take time to get it all back.
Maybe someday, we’ll find out why the GOP has disdain for a particular segment of society. Or why they think some of us don’t want to work. Whatever the reason, it certainly plays to a large portion of their base of support. Once again, it’s pitting Americans against each other — culturally, racially, and economically. It’s what they do best, and they do it well.
The GOP would like you to think we’re a bunch of lazy asses. I beg to differ. We will come back — despite little help from them. As expected, several Republican governors from red states are already telling Biden thanks, but no thanks to the additional unemployment relief. They’ve already determined folks in their states do not need it.
How nice of them.