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February 9 2014

Post-Work America: The Obama Democrats Have A "Troubling" Notion Of Work

Charlotte Hays

Sunday’s Headline of the Day:

They Quit Their Jobs Thanks to Health-care Law

--Washington Post

The story approvingly recounts the stories of Polly Lower, 56, who quit her job and is now babysitting her grandchild full-time, and Eddie Gonzalez-Novoa, 44, who left an $88,000 a year job and is now helping his nephew, a cancer survivor, found a social media and video-gaming site for teens who have cancer.

Ms. Lower’s job had changed recently. She had been doing payroll, which she enjoyed, but she was switched to doing her boss’s scheduling, “which she loathed.” The Washington Post writes:

But with the health-care law soon to take effect, [Lower] simply resigned — and hasn’t looked back.

“It was wonderful. It was very freeing,” said Lower, 56, of Bourbon, Ind., who is now babysitting her 5-year-old granddaughter full time. With the help of federal subsidies that kicked in Jan. 1, she is paying less than $500 a month for health coverage for herself and her husband.

Lower is an example of the latest controversy to spring up around the Affordable Care Act: its impact on the workforce.

You have to read down to the sixteenth paragraph to get to this tidbit:

The Washington Post found Gonzalez-Novoa and Lower through Families USA, a health advocacy group that supports the health-care law and maintains a database of people who have benefited from it.

So the newspaper was spoon-fed these examples by one of the key pro-ObamaCare organizations. To say that Families USA “supports” ObamaCare is putting it mildly—the organization was given a $1 million grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to collect these positive stories about ObamaCare.

Now, there is nothing wrong with a news outlet taking tips from such a group, though it might have been good if the Washington Post had identified Families USA more fully. Maintaining a data base sounds rather more passive than beating the bushes to turn up every single positive story about ObamaCare that can be found.

The Washington Post story follows last week’s CBO report estimating that around two million people will leave full-time work because of incentives in the Affordable Care Act. Conservatives were alarmed and administration supporters tried to spin the story as a boon for people who have been "locked" into jobs they don't like. The Washington Post story falls squarely into the latter category.

Still, even with the rosy spin, the stories from Ms. Lower and Mr. Gonzalez-Novoa do sound as if they were selected specifically to provide a Gotcha! for people who are concerned about what ObamaCare will do to the work ethic. I mean really, who can be against taking care of a grandchild or helping a cancer survivor?

And, happy though Ms. Lower and Mr. Gonzalez-Novoa are with their choices, some questions present themselves: Should others work and pay taxes so that Ms. Lower, who didn’t like being a scheduler, can spend more time with her grandchild? Should the taxpayer be (well) taxed so that Mr. Gonzalez-Novoa can help a cancer survivor with social media? This could have a profound impact on the economy.

Moreover, aren’t ages 44 and 56 a bit early to leave the work force? Presumably, both were working because they needed money. What would be Ms. Lower’s prospects when her grandchild is older and perhaps she wants to re-enter the work force? She will have a gap in her resume at a crucial time. Or, perhaps neither will opt again for full-time employment. Do they both intend to collect subsidies provided by the taxpayer for what could be nearly a century of subsidies between them?

Don’t get me wrong—I want people to have more choices. It is good to spend time with grandchildren. But I don’t want to subsidize other people’s choices. I also wonder if, in the scheme of things, Ms. Lower would not be better off if she’d stuck it out until she found something better. Could Mr. Gonzalez-Novoa have helped his cousin on weekends?

The Affordable Care Act could have a devastating effect on the work ethic. Indeed, Michael Goodwin has a terrific Sunday column in which he talks about the “troubling view of work” of the Obama Democrats. Americans, Goodwin notes, used to extol the value of work. But ObamaCare changes this:

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.

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.

Along these lines, one of the most disturbing aspects of The Shriver Report, the 400-page feminist manifesto put out by NBC’s Maria Shriver and the Center for American Progress, the think tank with close Obama administration ties, is its attitude towards work.

When talking about jobs, The Shriver Report stresses such things as having schedules that “accommodate” workers’ educational pursuits, “opportunities for mobility,” time to make personal phone calls, and flexible schedules.

All of these things are good, but The Shriver Report never seems to come to grips with the notion of work. Some companies couldn't stay afloat if they did all these attractive things. Many struggling companies might go under and not be able to provide long-term jobs without a certain amount of autonomy to set policies. Some jobs will always be entry level, and the main benefits are the pay and learning skills such as being on time and being courteous before seeking to improve one’s lot.

One of The Shriver Report recommendations is that workers be "allowed or encouraged to contribute ideas to better organize or improve their work teams or work areas.” No argument from me on this. But there is a proviso: sometimes a struggling company just has to get a product out.

The Obama Democrats no longer have a realistic notion of what a job entails—they celebrate it when a woman quits because the boss redesigned the job and she doesn’t like being a scheduler.

Welcome to post-work America.

Independent Women’s Forum’s mission is to improve the lives of Americans by increasing the number of women who value free markets and personal liberty. Sister organization of Independent Women’s Voice.
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