There’s been a lot of chatter about how the U.S. is finally embracing the welfare state, but never forget that America is still America.
Case in point: Joe Biden’s announcement on Monday that he wants everyone on unemployment to remember that the government is watching them like a hawk—and that he would really like states to start cracking down a little more on all the freeloaders out there:
Biden made sure to send this message on camera as well:
This might seem relatively benign, but it comes as Republicans are beginning to push the idea that enhanced unemployment benefits are causing a labor shortage and driving the jobless rate up. Biden dismissed that idea on Monday, and there is ample evidence that, rather than the jobs vanishing because lazy slobs prefer the dole, we’re in the midst of a potentially fundamental shift in what people expect from their jobs. But by moving to reimpose work requirements, Biden is clearly trying to reassure Republicans—and, really, rich people overall—that he is very much in favor of unemployment benefits having to be something of a chore. At the core of this lies the idea that there is something wrong with the government handing money to people for the simple reason that they need to survive. There has to be a higher purpose. They need to become a cog in the machine again as quickly as possible, and if they don’t, there goes the money, because they are now welfare queens and slimeballs trying, as a Bloomberg video headline helpfully blared, to “game” the system.
That the Biden administration is doing this after a year in which the benefit of just giving people money has been shown over and over again tells you something about the limits of American generosity, and the American imagination. Oh well, at least the pandemic is over and done wi—wait, you say it’s not???