WTVM Editorial 5-8-20: Jobs vs. guaranteed income

Published: May. 8, 2020 at 3:24 PM EDT
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(WTVM) - With the ongoing debate about when and how to fully reopen businesses, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi floated the idea of a “guaranteed income” for all Americans during the pandemic.

Pelosi thinks because the distressed economy will take a while to recover, Americans need a basic monthly income right now.

The idea of a guaranteed income isn’t new; former presidential candidate Andrew Yang made it his campaign pledge.

But when offered as a solution to COVID-19 unemployment, a guaranteed income has several flaws.

First, once a government entitlement is created, it is nearly impossible to end it. A recurring check from the government could make some people dependent, or at least less inclined to work.

When the pandemic ends, which it will, those in favor of a guaranteed income would fight to keep it, creating much higher taxes and a new generation of Americans expecting a handout.

The best cure for the economic damage done by COVID-19 is work. Open the economy, do it safely and smartly, but get people back to work as soon as possible.

This is a time when we are all weighing the benefits of fully resuming work versus still being careful not to spread the virus. But we can do both at the same time.

Work gives us a feeling of self-worth and self-determination. Your work creates value for the company, and you are rewarded with a paycheck in return.

A “guaranteed income” on the other hand, can create the mistaken idea that people ought to be rewarded for doing nothing.

The country needs to safely get back to being productive. We know it won’t all happen at once.

But we do know that more people working does lift the economy: remember that January’s unemployment rate was just 3.6% and financial growth was strong just before the virus.

A job is the best kind of economic stimulus. A guaranteed income is not the answer to this pandemic, or anything else.

General Manager Holly Steuart brings an editorial a week to WTVM. If you would like to respond to an editorial, e-mail your response to hsteuart@wtvm.com or write to:

WTVM Editorial Committee

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Columbus, GA 31906

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