Commentary

From Booze to Gambling, Romney's Checks for All Would Be Fiscal Folly

By Andy Schlafly | March 18, 2020 | 1:55pm EDT
U.S. Senator Mitt Romney, Republican of Utah, attends a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing about Turkey's actions in Syria. (Photo credit: SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)
U.S. Senator Mitt Romney, Republican of Utah, attends a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing about Turkey's actions in Syria. (Photo credit: SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)

Sen. Mitt Romney’s idea of sending every American a thousand-dollar check ignores the reality that half of the population does not save money. We would not need charity, food stamps, or religious outreach to the poor if sending checks to everyone would work.

It does not work. Half the population has addictions which cause them to waste money on booze, marijuana, gambling, or other vices. No one seriously thinks that giving a homeless person a thousand dollars would solve his problems, or society’s.

Many people are insolvent with creditors, who presumably would have first dibs on any check sent to their debtors. Some people could end up in jail if they did not turn over their check to their ex-spouse under a child support order.

If giving people money solved their problems, then why aren’t charities already doing this? The collection basket in church could be divvied up for the poor every Sunday and they could simply be handed cold cash.



 

Of course this would often not help, which is why no charity does it. Studies show that even lottery winners can find their lives ruined, not helped, by a windfall receipt of cash.

Conservatives support the idea of empowering people to spend their own funds, rather than government taking it. But these thousand-dollar checks are money which the government does not have to give back.

Rather, the government would be taking a thousand dollars per person from future generations, adding to the massive debt which will burden them one day. This would simply borrow against the future to prop up the present.

A thousand dollars per adult would add more than $200 billion in debt for our country, but would not make a significant difference for recipients. It would be less than one month’s rent for tenants and could not even buy a month’s worth of food for a large family; instead, billions of dollars would flow to vices.

Parents of children could be given extra checks for each child, but Romney’s proposal excluded children from consideration, even though they are the largest expense for most families. Children will be the ones repaying this debt upon adulthood, so excluding them would be borrowing from the next generation to pay this one.

The goal of smaller government sought by conservatives is frustrated by a precedent of government taking money on the one hand, while giving cash back on the other. This could lead to government as direct redistributor of wealth, rather than an entity that acts within its constitutionally enumerated powers.

For a decade, conservatives objected to ObamaCare based on its lack of any support in the Constitution, as it redistributed wealth under the guise of health insurance. It ended up helping far fewer people, at far greater cost, than was predicted by its supporters.

If ObamaCare is unconstitutional, as conservatives point out, then it is unclear how sending checks to every American would possibly be constitutional. What enumerated power of the federal government would enable it to funnel money to and from people, without connection to any legitimate government activity or any legislative finding of a specific need by a certain group?

When government cuts taxes, the benefits are immense because people are encouraged to work more as a result.  People who do not want to work receive no benefit from a tax cut, while people who work the most receive the greatest benefits.

These incentives are as they should be, and a tax cut also encourages government to trim its size.

But giving everyone a thousand dollars creates no salutary incentive. It would be mostly a wealth redistribution from people who work to those who do not.

Recessions and even the Great Depression have been well-known to conservative thinkers, but it is difficult to think of any who has ever recommended this approach of giving a few bucks to every American. It would mean billions more spent on alcohol, marijuana, and gambling, and it is difficult to see any of it resulting in the creation of good jobs.

Approaches which would help include cutting taxes, reducing regulation, and getting out of the way of the free market.  Senseless curfews, unjustified cancellations of popular events like March Madness, and other totalitarian approaches are causing more harm than good.

Japan has been stricken harder by the coronavirus (Covid-19) than the United States has, and yet Japan plans to hold the Olympics as scheduled. Let the runners have access to hand sanitizers on the track if anyone really thinks that they have any risk of mortality from catching the virus.

Adults are fully capable of making the decision as to whether they want to risk contracting the coronavirus. At some point, it is not the virus that is disrupting our economy, but an overreaction to it.

Andy Schlafly, Esq., is a teacher, engineer, conservative litigator and founder of Conservapedia. A social conservative, he survived being on the Harvard Law Review with Barack Obama.



 

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