GR US

At Long Last, We Have Looted the National Treasury

Αssociated Press

President Donald Trump participates in a Memorial Day ceremony at Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine, Monday, May 25, 2020, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

One of the most important facts about our government that every student should learn from an early age – but few of them ever do because in many cases, not even their teachers are aware of it – is that contrary to what so many people mistakenly believe, the United States is not a democracy. And we should all be grateful for that. Except that lately, with coronavirus government subsidizing run amok, one of the great dangers of democracy could befall us: the looting of our national treasury. In some respects, it may already be too late.

Sure, the will of the majority ultimately prevails in the United States, but there are so many hurdles to clear for that to happen in a constitutional republic, which is our form of government, whereas in a pure democracy, sweeping changes to national laws and policies can materialize overnight.

Taken to its natural conclusion, a purely democratic form of government could easily self-destruct, as the masses could vote to loot the national treasury. It’s very simple: a national movement emerges that we simply cash out and call it a day. Because so many in the media spin the news so irresponsibly and incorrectly, large numbers of Americans also believe that because we have a national debt, we’re underwater. In fact, quite the opposite is true. We choose to carry a large credit card bill precisely because we are so wealthy: if we were to sell all of our assets, we’d be rolling in the dough. To illustrate, consider the example of the Jones family, which lives paycheck-to-paycheck and often has to take on more debt to make ends meet. It all sounds like gloom and doom for the Joneses, except they happen to own free and clear, a $50 million mansion. They can sell it at any time, easily pay off their debt, purchase a comparatively modest $500,000 home, and still be rich enough to retire and live a very comfortable life. That’s a lot like the current situation in the United States with one big difference: because of wild, unbridled, knee-jerk spending, our government has already sold off the mansion and is doling out rolls of $100 bills to anyone asking for money.

The media is all too willing to be complicit (so many among them are ratings whores, after all). Eagerly, they rush to report “record numbers” of unemployment claims filed amid the prolonged virus-related business shutdown. Of course, many of those claims are very real. Surely, many businesses have really shut down, and employees have nowhere to turn except their government for economic relief, because they have food to buy and bills to pay. But so many others among those millions of claimants really don’t need the money at all in order to survive.

The sweet, one-size-fits-all deal our two major parties offered up in a panic, unfortunately hurriedly agreed to by president Trump (otherwise, his enemies would excoriate him for being “pro-pandemic”), is a significant economic upgrade for a very large chunk of the population. Small businesses throughout America include not only mom-and-pop shops but any business with (depending on the industry) as many as 1500 employees. Imagine one of those larger small businesses employing a bunch of workers who deal directly with the public, face to face, saying things like: “won’t you have a seat, sir? Ms. Williams will be right with you.” Many of those folks earn about $20,000 per year, yet our virus giveaway plan (now that they’re not needed because the office is closed) ensures them a minimum of $30,000 just to stay home and watch TV. That’s not just making ends meet; that’s a fortune falling from the sky. “How can an extra $10 thousand a year be a fortune?” some out-of-touch politicians may scoff (think Hillary Clinton in 2016 and wonder if that – and not the “Russian collusion” nonsense – is what kept her from winning, but, I digress…), but it’s a 50 percent jump in income, which is a big deal to everyone, from the prince to the pauper.

Basically, our government has told every one of its citizens who earns in the $20,000 range and has been laid off, “you’re getting a 50 percent raise and instead of hauling boxes and cleaning toilets, you get to stay home, put your feet up, and bingewatch your favorite shows.”

The one-size plan for small businesses is another reckless giveaway. Again, many, many small businesses actually deserve relief money. Yet, all small businesses are eligible for it, as long as they can demonstrate some sort of economic uncertainty. Consider Al, a hypothetical neighborhood pizzamaker. The virus shutdown has caused his business to skyrocket: families who can’t sit down and restaurants but are tired of cooking every night call in to Al’s in droves for pizza, and love the fact that he delivers. Al never made so much money in his life! And, yet, he is eligible to get a wad of cash from Uncle Sam because, after all, the future is just as uncertain – at least in theory – for him too. Would Al really turn down the money because he doesn’t desperately need it? Remember, Al isn’t as big as Shake Shack or Ruth’s Chris – he’s not sure when this business boom will end and he’s not about to turn down a gift.

America is the greatest superpower in the history of the world. But that doesn’t make us perfect, and one of our bad habits is that we often use an elephant gun to kill a mosquito. To have done nothing in the face of this pandemic would have been grossly irresponsible, but it is almost as irresponsible to shut down our whole country, crippling millions economically and psychologically, and handing out trillions of dollars like Halloween candy.

I pray that our planet will be rid of this virus soon. But when we look back – at least here in the United States – the two big winners to emerge from the panic will be socialism and Big Pharm (more on the latter to follow soon).