by Michael Goodwin
Among its many stamps, the Postal Service has a series called “Made in America, Building a Nation.” The strip of “forever” stamps is a collection of iconic photographs of 20th-century industry featuring men and women toiling on railroads, skyscrapers and factory floors.
A celebration of work and workers, the series quotes Helen Keller saying, “The world is moved along, not only by the mighty shoves of its heroes, but also by the aggregate of the tiny pushes of each honest worker.”
My, oh, my, how times have changed. America now has a government that views work as a trap and celebrates those who escape it.
That is the upshot of last week’s remarkable exchange over ObamaCare. It began when the head of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office reported that the interplay of taxes and subsidies in the law “creates a disincentive for people to work.” The report predicted the mix would lead to fewer hours worked, costing the equivalent of nearly 2.5 million jobs.
In response, President Obama’s spokesman pleaded guilty — with pride and pleasure.
“Opportunity created by affordable, quality health insurance allows families in America to make a decision about how they will work, or if they will work,” Jay Carney said. Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi applauded the law for freeing people from “job-lock.”
They never mentioned the implications of this distinctly Obama-ish New Deal. The subsidies that enable some Americans to decide “if they will work” mean higher taxes from those who must or want to work.
Republicans immediately jumped on the finding as proof that the law is a jobs killer and cited earlier discoveries about its destructive impact. These include Obama’s lie that “you can keep your plan” and the fact that many new insurance plans come with higher premiums and deductibles and fewer doctors.
Pay more, get less will be the experience for tens of millions by the time the law is fully implemented. And don’t forget its assault on religious freedom.
All true and yet, as Carney’s defense showed, something much, much larger is at play. The impacts are symptoms. The disease is that leading Democrats view fewer workers and more dependency as a good thing. That attitude largely explains slow economic growth, record-low labor rates and the explosion of handouts over the last five years.
This anti-job, pro-dependency tilt is the crux of the nation’s polarization. In essence, it pits those who believe in the sanctity of work against those who believe in penalizing wealth and redistributing its fruits.
Not all Democrats agree with that approach, but the party is now controlled by those who do. It is the party that celebrates subsidies and rewards states for getting more people on food stamps. It opens the door wider for disability payments and fights for unemployment benefits like it once fought for jobs. It does these things not because of an emergency but because of a warped ideology.
As such, it has broken with the heritage celebrated on the postage stamps and in the hearts and minds of generations. In that America, work, any work, was honorable while being on the dole was cause for shame. Still is.
Yes, work itself has changed and many manufacturing and factory jobs have disappeared. Yet the most troubling change has nothing to do with the kind of work and everything to do with attitudes and values about work.
The stigma attached to getting something for nothing is being replaced by an endless demand for more free stuff. One party is stoking that demand as it moves from being the working-class party to the entitlement party.
That revelation counts as the silver lining of ObamaCare. We now have it straight from the White House and Congress that creating jobs is not really their goal. Instead, the president’s singular piece of legislation is a success because it helps people get healthcare while avoiding work.
That is the Obama legacy. It should be celebrated with postage stamps featuring couch potatoes dozing in front of televisions.
SOURCE: New York Post