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Obama, "Fairness", and Your Right to Not Work

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

I’m askin’ that the script be flipped…”

The young woman at the audience microphone seemed to have some familiarity with Democrat President John F Kennedy’s admonition to “ask what you can do for your country.” But she had a different idea in mind.

“..I’m askin’ what the country can do for me, and the people in this room,” she shouted, as the crowd erupted in uproarious cheers and chants.

It was August of 2011. Democrat Congresswoman Maxine Waters of California was hosting a town hall meeting and “job fair” in the L.A. suburb of Inglewood – a town where the unemployment rate is estimated to hover around 30%.

The Congresswoman was deflecting her constiuents’ anger away from herself and floating the idea that, while it’s great to have a black President, Barack Obama nonetheless was not doing enough to “create jobs” for black Americans.

That was last summer. Since then, the unemployment rate has dropped a bit and some American companies have done some hiring.

But look more closely at the unemployment numbers, and another reality emerges. After three years in the White House, President Barack Obama has indeed “flipped the script” in America and now millions of us are simply choosing to NOT work.

The reality of Americans choosing to not work – or, at a minimum, choosing to work less – would seem to be a very intentional consequence of President Obama’s agenda. Indeed, it has long been the belief of the President’s science adviser John P. Holdren that the world would be a better place if “Americans worked, produced, and earned less.”

This may seem counter-intuitive, yet the numbers don’t lie. As the unemployment rate has recently dropped a bit, so also has the “labor force participation rate” – the statistic that represents the ratio between the labor force itself, and the overall population. Assuming that the Bureau of Labor Statistics is telling the truth, participation in the labor force has dropped to a 30 year low, as roughly 1.2 million Americans recently chose to exit the labor market.

It’s difficult to deny that the decline in the number of people who want to work correlates with the President’s agenda. At the very least, one has to admit that this change corresponds on the timeline with Mr. Obama’s presidency.

Yet within his first three years as our President, we’ve seen the amount of direct federal payments to individual households – both direct payments for specific usages, and for “unrestricted” usages – skyrocket by more than $600 billion. One might argue that these direct payments rose out of necessity because of the recession, although President Obama has slated for another $500 billion worth of annual increases in direct payments between now and 2016. If the trend continues, within the next four years direct payments will account for two-thirds of all annual federal government spending.

But wait, there’s more. A record forty-nine percent of all American homes have somebody living in them who is receiving some sort of federal benefit. And reliance on food stamps has expanded forty-five percent during the Obama presidency, thanks in no small part to the President’s insistence that the expansion of food stamp funding be included in his “economic stimulus bill.”

So what does the expansion of “federal assistance” do to us? President Obama insists that it creates a sense of “fairness” in our society. Yet it’s difficult to argue that it doesn’t create at least some incentive to cease being productive.

And then there’s President Obama’s signature “healthcare reform” law – “Obamacare” if you will. Nearly two years ago the Congressional Budget Office warned that with all the robust entitlements that the law promises, it would most certainly impact the labor market.

Speaking at a little-noted event at the University of Southern California in October of 2010, C.B.O. Director Doug Elmendorf noted that, outside the healthcare sector of our economy, the greatest impact of the Obamacare agenda would be with people’s interest in working.

Furthermore, Mr. Elmendorf stated that, in some cases, Americans would simply choose to no longer work, because their needs for healthcare will be provided by the enhanced Medicaid funding entailed in the Obamacare law.

As Journalist Matt Cover observed at after the conference (he was one of few journalists that actually reported on this event), this assessment of Obamacare by Mr. Elmendorf coincided with former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s remarks in May of that year, when she claimed that Obamacare would allow “artists” to “quit their day job” and pursue their art, free from the constraints of having to provide for one’s self, because the government would now take care of artists’ healthcare needs.

And now here we are, less than nine months away from another presidential election. After roughly four years of recessionary conditions where millions of us have worried about remaining employed, today it appears that increasing numbers of us have simply lost interest in employment altogether.

Has the script been flipped? That would seem to be the case. What we don’t know is what Americans want for the future – will we choose a land of opportunity, or a President that enables us to not work?

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