RICHENDOLLAR: The Chumping Block

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If the past two months haven’t made you feel like a world-champion chump, you’re not paying attention. Either that, or the progressive nanny state hasn’t yet put your group on the chumping block. Rest assured, everyone will get their turn.

If you live in a fiscally responsible state, your politicians are supreme chumps. Instead of balancing budgets or running manageable deficits and making painful trade-offs between services and taxation, they should have paid their public servants like Illinois and New York did for decades, and just trust Uncle Sam, not the state’s taxpayers or the politicians in charge when the fiscal cliff arrived, would pay the price.

If your three kids recently flew the coop, you could have made an extra $900 per month in refundable child “tax credits” (the new ones are cash payments that are paid regardless of tax liability — that’s called “welfare,” not a tax credit), or $10,800 per year — if you only you had been a few years younger and your kids still lived at home.

These exorbitant benefits are available in full for couples making up to $150,00 per year! Couples making that much enroll their children in horse-riding and skiing lessons — they don’t go to soup kitchens or miss rent payments. Call me Ebenezer Scrooge, but I have little interest in making welfare recipients of people earning quadruple and quintuple the federal poverty line. I have even less interest in watching my tax dollars subsidize country club memberships and Disneyland vacations. I have a feeling neither do most of the American people, who are still unaware of this massive change in our nation’s basic family structure foisted upon us in the name of “COVID relief.” Temporary epidemiological problems do not require permanent economic solutions.

If you didn’t go to college because you felt the value of the experience didn’t justify the bill, Democrats are considering making you pay the first $50,000 of someone else’s college debt, who likely makes more than you do because of that degree. What kind of justice is that? Certainly not “social justice” or “cosmic justice” or good-old-fashioned “justice.” It’s justice as defined by those in power. They coincidentally happen to mingle mostly amongst people with student loans and have little if any exposure to the more than half of Americans who don’t have bachelors’ degrees or higher. If you worked to get through college and came out without debt, or earned scholarships, or both, those who didn’t might soon expropriate the products of your labor to the tune of $50,000. Silly you! You should have just lazed around on weekends in college rather than painting, clerking or interning. You should have bought a few thousand dollars in bitcoin with a part of your student loans and then watched your net worth increase, all the while politicians hemming and hawing over who will pay off your initial investment.

When everyone feels like a chump at the mercy of arbitrary power, bitter and suspicious people are the result. Nothing quite so easily destroys “live and let live” as making everyone pay for the lives and choices of others. Despite the popularity of such giveaways in the abstract (which explains why some Republicans are in favor of the greatly increased child payouts, for instance), in practicality, they are crippling to the nation’s collective morals, the national budget, the social fabric of families and communities, where such arbitrary giveaways create selective and unearned resentment, and to the toughness and self-sufficiency of our citizens.

As Milton Friedman observed, “Very few people spend other peoples’ money as carefully as they spend their own.” There is no coherent reason to addict couples making $130,000 per year, or even half that, to welfare. This not money well-borrowed. Neither is bailing out states or paying off student loans. For the sake of our country, Republicans must repeal these dangerous handouts that promise to addict the middle and upper-middle classes to government handouts and bureaucratic largesse when they next hold power, no matter the optics, and demand a repayment from states that were bailed out on false pretenses.

Nathan Richendollar is a summa cum laude economics and politics graduate of Washington and Lee University in Lexington, VA. He lives in Southwest Missouri with his wife Bethany and works in the financial sector.