In times of great need, we often make decisions for the benefit of today that drastically harm us in the future. We do this knowing the pain will come, but we consider it a worthwhile trade off in the moment. The more I learn about the coronavirus bailout bill that’s going to be sent to the President’s desk and signed later today, the more I realize the pain that it will alleviate is too small compared to the pain it will cause down the road.
We can debate all day about whether or not the bill is appropriate. I leaned towards it being necessary, but as the details of the bill come out I’m lurching quickly away from it. This is not the economic stimulus that we need, one that would pay itself off through improved productivity even in the long run. But that debate is done. It’s happening. Now is the time to plan for how we’re going to recover from it and whatever other monstrosities are cooked up in the near future.
There are three great risks this bill creates and/or exacerbates. The first is the obvious one: Two trillion dollars is a ton of money. Lest we forget, there was a government shutdown that transpired because of less than seven billion dollars in wall funding. This bill is 294 times bigger than that. It’s more money than there are physical dollars in circulation worldwide. If we started writing $20,000,000 checks every day from the moment the Declaration of Independence was signed until today, it still wouldn’t cover this expenditure. Yes, this is a gargantuan bill unlike anything we’ve seen in history.
The second great risk is almost as obvious, at least to the freedom-loving right. This bill inserts government oversight where there was none before. It puts bureaucrats in the financial records of every business, large and small, that accepts money. Most of them that do truly need these loans to stay afloat and continue paying workers, but they will be regretting it in the future when government starts telling them how they can handle their employees and where to invest their funds. It’s an authoritarian trap, one that is another step towards the private sector of business being controlled by government.
The last real threat from this is one that I do not believe many Americans recognize, at least not those who make up the workforce of this country. Dependency on government is addictive. The “free” money we get for no reason other than being somehow victimized by the coronavirus will breed lost productivity. People will be paid to stay home. They will be, in many ways, “better off” by not working. It’s an illusion, of course. Hard work and earning a living are rewarding in more ways than just a paycheck. There is a real threat that government dependence will supersede self-reliance in many Americans.
Sadly, it’s not only addictive. It’s contagious. When Sally sees her brother Bob doing well without working, she may start questioning why she is working to support her family while Bob plays Call of Duty. He may even question why she’s not taking advantage of the situation. She may start questioning that herself.
Today, Americans want to work. We want to contribute to society while building up our personal and familial security. But that mentality, one that is such a crucial component of America’s success as a nation, is threatened by this and future bailouts. The more government gives out for nothing, the more likely it is people will grow accustomed to it and even like it.
One of the biggest reasons we’re now rushing forward to build the American Conservative Movement is because we’re seeing the risks of a populace that grows accustomed to government dependency and of businesses in which bureaucratic oversight becomes normalized. We must prepare to reverse this course and get Americans back to work instead of standing around in toilet paper lines with government checks in our back pockets.
The coronavirus and everything associated with it is bad news. But even in something so negative, there’s a silver lining. America has an opportunity for a fiscally conservative revival, not only in government where it is so desperately needed, but also within the population of citizens ourselves. As we push forward with the movement and prepare to launch it as an educational and informational foundation, it’s necessary for us to have focus. The panic and responses to the coronavirus give us clarity on how to proceed. We must remind Americans who may fall victim to government dependency that there’s a better way.
The coronavirus bailout bill is done. Arguing over its merits is futile. But we must get moving on reversing the damage that the bill, the crisis, and the panic are going to cause. If we wait for the dust to settle, dust may be all we have left.