May 14, 2020
We’ve frequently featured libertarian journalist John Stossel in our American Consequences magazine… but you might not know that he is also is fighting to better the education that young folks receive.
Every week, he releases a free video on social media to explain individual liberty and free markets. They average 1.8 million views each.
Then the videos go to classrooms. An incredible 130,000 teachers across the nation use them to teach civics and economics to millions of middle school and high school students.
But while the content is incredibly valuable… and the videos are free to watch… they aren’t cheap to make.
John’s programs are run through the Center for Independent Thought, a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt, non-profit educational foundation.
And every single video is funded through the generosity of donors. Unlike competing one-sided, statist educational foundations, it doesn’t seek or accept government funds.
We receive no incentive if you donate… we simply like John’s work and appreciate what he’s doing for the next generation of Americans.
And now, read John’s essay about the big unintended consequences from the government’s unemployment handout… why he’s upping his personal charity donations… and some important advice from his mother.
You’ll Freeze in the Dark!
By John Stossel
Last Sunday, Mother’s Day, made me think how my mom warned me as a young teen: “Work hard! Or you’ll freeze in the dark!”
Sometimes, the warning ended, “Or you’ll starve in the cold.”
She grew up during the depression. She and her peers were sensibly worried about freezing in the dark.
The message scared me, and I worked hard in school.
When I got my first job, I always put some pay in a savings account, even when (OK, it was long ago) I only made $132 a week. I feared a bad future, and I wanted to make sure I could support myself.
This wasn’t all good. I’ve probably been too anxious all my life. I missed out on things. I didn’t contribute to charities until I was in my 40s.
But fear of “freezing in the dark” made me persevere. I studied when I didn’t want to. Then I took a job that frightened me.
I’m a stutterer. Stuttering is now among disabilities covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”).
I wonder, had the ADA been law when I started in TV news, would I have struggled as hard to overcome my stutter? Would I have had the career I’ve had? Probably not.
The TV station wouldn’t have hired me. Once the ADA passed, my stutter makes me a member of a “protected class.” The station, reasonably, would have viewed me as potential poison.
That’s because if they fired me because I didn’t work out, I might sue. I could have accused them of failing to “accommodate the disabled,” as the law requires. Even if I didn’t win, the lawsuit would be expensive. It’s safer for employers to avoid members of “protected classes.”
Far-fetched? Look at the stats:
Before the ADA passed, 59% of disabled men had jobs. After it passed, the number fell to 48%. Today, fewer than 30% have jobs.
Once again, a law that was supposed to help people did the opposite of what politicians intended.
I think about that when I read about today’s $600 a week federal unemployment check subsidies for the coronavirus. Added to the average state payments of $378 a week, unemployment now often pays better than working.
“We have not seen an application in weeks,” says Steve Anthony, CEO of the Anthony Timberlands sawmill in Arkansas. He’s offering jobs that pay $800 a week. But in Arkansas, federal and state unemployment benefits reach $1,051 a week.
Anthony told my TV producer Maxim Lott, “If Congress elects to extend this $600 unemployment bonus, it will simply support a higher level of unemployment.”
Lott also interviewed Otis Mitchell Jr., who quit his job transporting hospital patients once he learned about the increase in unemployment benefits.
“My little girl is loving it,” said Mitchell, because he has more time to spend with her.
But it’s bad for hospital patients who need transportation.
Shame on the U.S. government for making unemployment pay better than work.
People who lose jobs because the government won’t let them work do deserve help. I’m giving more to charities because of that. Charities are able to discriminate – to discern who really needs help while ignoring freeloaders.
But government is a blunt instrument. Its checks go to people whether or not they try to find work or overcome disabilities.
Over time, as people depend on handouts, they often feel that their lives are no longer within their control. They become passive. They don’t push through obstacles. They wait for government help.
Social scientists call this “learned helplessness.”
It’s the struggle to overcome obstacles that brings fulfillment.
When government programs “take care of us,” they kill off some of the best of life and make us much less productive. They don’t even make people happy.
If we keep giving the state more power over our lives, we will freeze in the dark.
Now here are some of the stories we’re reading…
Remember, most of financial media is incentivized to keep you spending, to keep you in debt, and to keep you from building wealth. Just take this headline for example: New threat to the economy: Americans are saving like it’s the 1980s
The savings rate in the United States climbed from 8% in February to 13.1% in March. That was the highest savings rate since November 1981. And given the disastrous economic news, the savings rate will likely go even higher when April statistics are released. “When you have a depression-like shock, households will increase savings,” said Brusuelas, who called the March spike in savings rate “insane.”
US grocery costs jump the most in 46 years, led by rising prices for meat and eggs
The Labor Department reported Tuesday that prices U.S. consumers paid for groceries jumped 2.6% in April, the largest one-month pop since February 1974. The spike in supermarket prices was broad based and impacted items from broccoli and ham to oatmeal and tuna.
Universal basic income and the end of the republic
Keep in mind, all of this fervor over the UBI in far-left circles predated the COVID-19 pandemic by a few years, at least. So, given the historical context, is it such a logical leap to assume that some on the left are using the coronavirus crisis as an opportunity to introduce another “temporary” welfare program that is almost assuredly going to be popular among Americans who receive it?
Limbaugh: Next Four Months Will Be War Like You’ve Never Seen, Dems Will Try To Keep Economy Shut Down
Rush Limbaugh said these next four months are going to be a “veritable war” like we have not seen between Democrats and President Trump. On the Tuesday broadcast of his nationally-syndicated radio program, Limbaugh said Democrats will do their best to keep the economy shut down, expand that shutdown, and to blow up their own country’s jobs to ensure a Trump loss in November.
And let us know what you’re reading at[email protected].
Publisher, American Consequences
With P.J. O’Rourke and the Editorial Staff
May 14, 2020