Employers Beg for Workers: ‘It’s the economy, stupid’
COMMENTARY

May 12, 2021 by John Kass
A help wanted sign is posted in front of a business on February 4, 2021, in Miami. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images/TNS)

Have you ever wondered what happens to flat-earthers?

Not all spend their days eating pudding with plastic spoons and rewatching old sitcoms — or as fabulists hanging at the end of the bar, boasting of their heroic exploits until closing time.

Some become president of the United States.

Or they find power in President Joe Biden’s administration and join him in gaslighting the nation about that dismal April jobs report as businesses struggle to emerge from those government pandemic shutdowns.

With so many Americans now vaccinated, economists predicted about 1 million more Americans would find work, but only 266,000 jobs were added to the economy. According to Biden, this has nothing to do with generous federal unemployment benefits that are scheduled to last until September, on top of state unemployment benefits.

According to Team Biden, it has nothing to do with the federal government (i.e., taxpayers) paying workers to sit on their couches, watch Netflix and collect unemployment checks, even as small-business owners across the country are on their knees begging workers to return now that many are vaccinated and the pandemic is winding down.

“I know there’s been a lot of discussion since Friday’s report that people are being paid to stay home rather than go to work,” Biden said after the April jobs report was made public. “Well, we don’t see much evidence of that.”

To see evidence, you have to open your eyes. Just like if you want a job you have to take one.

The National Federation of Independent Business says a record 44% of all small-business owners have job openings they cannot fill. And according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, in some states workers can collect unemployment for up to 46 weeks.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce wants to end those extra government payouts because they’re enticing people to stay home.

And on top of trillions already spent, Biden wants to spend trillions of dollars more. Will this bring a workless utopia or long-term inflationary disaster?

I don’t begrudge workers. People make decisions based on what they’re offered. If the government pays them not to work, many won’t work. Not all want to become entrepreneurs or work extra hours and get promoted. Some are content to just get by. And the government is making it easier right now to do that.

Jason Webb, owner of G.D. Ritzy’s, a restaurant in Huntington, West Virginia, was forced to put up a sign: “MISSING — JOB SEEKERS. IF FOUND, BRING INSIDE.”

“I feel like I am competing against the enhanced unemployment benefits and the stimulus,” Webb told the Herald-Dispatch. “It is making it hard to find workers when they can make so much not working.”

The other morning, I stopped for breakfast with Chicago business owners, including restaurant guys, who said the same thing.

“I don’t think Joe Biden ever had a job,” said my friend Jimmy Banakis. “Has he ever had a job or run a business?”

Before Biden spent his life as a politician, he was briefly a public defender, gaining a small measure of fame for successfully defending an accused cow thief. But he really loved talking about being a lifeguard. During his presidential campaign he told America stories in which he was the hero, all about his leg hairs turning blond in the sun and his epic confrontation with the mythic “Corn Pop.”

He’s good at stories. But the one about how generous unemployment benefits don’t keep people from working didn’t have legs, hairy or otherwise. Biden’s handlers realized this, so they reshaped the message.

“In order to receive any kind of unemployment benefit, claimants must be available and actively seeking work, and workers are not permitted to refuse suitable work and continue to receive benefits,” said Jen Psaki, his press secretary.

OK, Jen, but that’s just talk. Fraud in the unemployment system rose sharply during the pandemic. Biden and the Democrats want to make it last even longer.

For example, in the lockdown blue state of Illinois, with Democrats in complete control and small businesses collapsing or fleeing, the state’s Illinois Department of Employment Security is an absolute disaster. And, like Biden, Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker doesn’t seem to want to open his eyes to behold his wonders.

Biden’s labor secretary, Marty Walsh, says that there isn’t a simple answer to the April jobs report. He did mention two barriers that are keeping people out of the workforce: closed schools and lack of child care options.

When Biden’s people talk that way, do journalists ever mention to Walsh and others that the nation’s powerful teachers unions — which contribute mightily to Democratic candidates — have pushed for the shutdowns of schools and that Democrats have accommodated them?

Most don’t bring it up. They just let it sit there.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is pushing to end the distribution of federal unemployment payments to get his state working again. Florida is joining other Republican-leaning states such as Alabama, Indiana, Mississippi, Montana, South Carolina and Arkansas.

But not in Democrat-run states where politics revolve around taxpayer-funded government benefits and programs.

Naturally, the Democratic Party and its media handmaidens would much rather Americans think about something else, like Republican Party squabbles with the left’s new mythic hero, U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney, the anti-Trump Republican from Wyoming.

Years ago, a moderate pro-business Democrat (remember that now-extinct species?) made a startling claim: There was something Americans cared more about than politicians jabbering on about politics:

It’s the economy, stupid.

©2021 Chicago Tribune. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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