President Obama’s deleterious effect on America’s work ethic [Reader Post]

By 24 Comments 1,385 views

The United States was built on the backs of hard working people. From pilgrims who survived an ocean’s journey and founded a colony at Plymouth to slaves who endured the blistering sun as they harvested cotton to settlers who braved temperatures, terrain and Indians to fulfill a Manifest Destiny, the United States was the product of people who worked like their lives depended on it. And in many cases, they did. In the 20th century however, other than a number of wars, and increasingly, simply living in intercity neighborhoods, most aspects of working in America don’t involve putting your life on the line in order to survive.

Today, America is still powered by work, in whatever form it takes, everything from building bridges to creating smartphone apps to finding investment opportunities. Work has created a foundation for the prosperity that has given the United States two centuries of greatness. Unfortunately, the very concept of work as something positive, something necessary, something that is part of a normal family’s existence, is slowly going away… and it’s no accident.

One wonders what someone could do to destroy the work ethic…

For starters, try two full years of unemployment benefits… although the longest period today has dropped to 83 weeks – a year and a half – President Obama had benefits up to an unprecedented 99 weeks in his first year in office. This, despite the fact that studies show that fully 1/3 of those receiving unemployment benefits find a job within one week of their benefits expiring, and a sizable number of the rest soon thereafter. This is not just an exercise in navel gazing… it has a real impact. In Fort Wayne, Indiana, despite offering between $9 and $20 per hour and a 7% unemployment rate, hundreds of employers cannot fill their open positions. Either they can’t find enough qualified applicants (thank you teachers’ unions) or the pay they are offering is simply not good enough to convince people to give up their unemployment benefits.

And unemployment benefits are not the only government program weighing on the work ethic. Then there is welfare. The GOP half of the Senate Budget Committee released a report last week that was astonishing: “Welfare spending per day per household in poverty is $168, which is higher than the $137 median US income per day.” To put that in perspective, those welfare benefits, including food stamps, housing, healthcare and child care amongst other programs, equal to $61,320 per year per household in poverty. That compares to the median US household income of $50,054 per year. And to add insult to injury, that $50,054 is taxable while the welfare benefits are not. A conservative 20% combined federal, state and local tax rate would bring that take home pay to approximately $40,000, fully 35% lower than the income from the household living in “poverty”.

Now of course liberals say that these numbers are skewed and that all those benefits don’t go to people living in poverty, but also go to people who are experiencing particular hardships. Perhaps, but isn’t that exactly what unemployment insurance is for? Should welfare benefits really be going to those who are not living in poverty? And of course, don’t forget, poverty in 2012 doesn’t mean what you might expect.

Then there is this nugget from the Bureau of Labor Statistics: While the economy has created 2.6 million jobs since June 2009, fully 3.1 million workers signed up for disability benefits. There is something staggering about the fact that for every one person who found a job in the last three years, there was another person who not only didn’t help grow the economy, but who sought support provided by people with jobs! It’s like you and a stranger going to apply for a job. You get the job and the stranger says he can’t actually work but wants to be paid out of your salary… You might not be surprised to learn that lax enforcement and fraud are part of the mix.

Finally there is this. It’s called the Labor Force Participation Rate. Essentially it’s the percentage of people 16 years of age and older who are either working or looking for work. (Those not in that number include students, retirees, those unable to work and those not looking for work.) For most of the last 20 years that number has been between 66% & 67%. Since President Obama took office that number has plummeted to 63.6%. That is the lowest level in over three decades. Fundamentally, what that means is that since President Obama was sworn in, fully 2.2% of the adult population of the United States has decided to exit the workforce. (Remember, that doesn’t include those who are looking for work…) That works out to be approximately 5 million people who have decided that they can get by one way or another without working… which means of course that someone else has to pay to support them.

Taken together these data are nothing less than catastrophic. A country that was built on sweat, ingenuity and perseverance is today foundering under the sheer weight of a segment of the population that sees either no need or no point in contributing to the prosperity of the nation. It’s no wonder that the economy is stagnating despite the infusion of over $5 trillion in debt over the last four years.

This is Margret Thatcher’s “The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money” playing itself out in real life. Today we have fewer and fewer people getting jobs while we have skyrocketing numbers of people living off of government handouts. Unfortunately, a majority of voters just reelected a man who not only doesn’t see a problem with this, but who has been driving it. What’s worse, he’s using tax and regulatory policy to dissuade investors, entrepreneurs and businessmen from starting or growing the businesses whose jobs are supposed to support this lunacy in the first place. And of course forgotten in all of this is that work, in addition to providing a person with an income, also provides a feeling of dignity, independence and the pride in the fact that they are benefiting not only themselves but the society as a whole.  One has to wonder, when 2016 comes around will there be enough Americans left with jobs (or the memory of jobs) to derail this progressive train to oblivion?

The product of a military family, growing up in Naples, Italy and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and being stationed in Germany for two years while in the Army, Vince spent half of his first quarter century seeing the US from outside of its own borders. That perspective, along with a French wife and two decades as a struggling entrepreneur have only fueled an appreciation for freedom and the fundamental greatness of the gifts our forefathers left us.

24 Responses to “President Obama’s deleterious effect on America’s work ethic [Reader Post]”

  1. 2



    What part of Redistribution don’t you understand?

    You work and Obama takes your money and gives it to his bundlers and people on welfare. The more money you make the more money he will need from you. These costs are only going up, so if a person on welfare requires $75,000 to maintain a quality lifestyle and you make $250,000, you better be ready to cough up $175,000 of your income. This is social justice and Obama needs this stuff to stay in office indefinitely. He is also going to need a lot of money to real the 22 Amendment and he can only expect his bundlers to hold so many $40,000 a plate dinners. cough up you workers, Obama is going to need serious cash. Oh, and welfare will need more money as well.

  2. 3

    MOS 8541

    The distribution to a welfare state will run dry. But the ass will be retired on a nice federal pension-new political welfare. The well is running dry.

  3. 4

    Scott in Oklahoma

    So… I am watching FOX news this morning, and they are talking about the Right to Work vote in Michigan. They mention Obama was there yesterday (Dec 10) to give a speech supporting the union viewpoint against the bill. That brought a question to my mind. Can anyone explain to me what national importance that vote carries, that would justify a personal appearance by the President? Who paid THAT bill? I for one support the right to work, and I am pretty unhappy about paying the travel expenses for the President to go out there solely to show union solidarity.

  4. 5

    Liberal1 (Objectivity)

    The Protestant Work Ethic is not as important to some as it is to others. Not everyone believes in the moral value of work in itself. Work is a means to an end. If work does not achieve that end, then it loses its value to most workers. The end of most work in the American mind is either the satisfaction or remuneration. With the decline of the labor movement during the past twenty years in this country, both these ends has been subsequently reduced—is it any wonder that the Active Labor Force Participation Rate has decreased? Perhaps if we looked at employment from a different perspective—like the German model, for example (for you who a not familiar with it, I suggest you look it up before criticizing it). After all, capitalism—in the sense of making as much money as possible, without regard to labor—is dying in America.

  5. 6

    Liberal1 (Objectivity)

    @Scott in Oklahoma: The Democratic Party—and the President as the leader of the Democratic Party—is supposed to be pro-labor and pro-union. His appearance in Michigan was to address the anti-labor orientation of Snyder’s Republicans. Whether you agree with it or not, that is the explanation.

  6. 7

    Scott in Oklahoma

    @Liberal1 (Objectivity): I’m gonna guess here… you’ve never had a job that included co-workers, you’ve never supervised anyone in any capacity and you’ve never employed anyone. And you’ve never produced a work product which, after it was completed, you could point to and say “I worked hard to make that happen, and I am proud of those results”.
    Hard to give you any credibility…

  7. 9


    To Liberal1,

    Change welfare to workfare. You don’t work, you don’t eat! Then all this mumbo jumbo would stop on a dime! 100 million people on the government dole is an outright disgrace to those of us that earned our way!

    Why the heck are we punishing the workers? Let’s punish the slackers!

    By the way, I also recommend a flat tax with no deductions for anything, charities, corporate or individual. Then we would have a true free market economy. (We might also do away with tax lawyers and 95% of the IRS!)

  8. 10


    OBAMA is the president of the UNIONS ,
    they put him there to show up to take their side only,
    when they need him, he owed it to them, again in the last election,

  9. 13


    Nan G
    I took that name from one of the comedian Jay LENO , AT pookie 18, on WORDSMITH ON TOP,
    I liked it so much to take it and put it somewhere it could fit.
    bye and thank you for the video

  10. 14


    Either they can’t find enough qualified applicants (thank you teachers’ unions) or the pay they are offering is simply not good enough to convince people to give up their unemployment benefits.

    Too bad you can’t kill the teachers and their unions. Then America will erupted like the blossoms of 100 flowers.
    Before Obama and his “deleterious effect” on the Amurican work effort, the jobs of ditch digging went unfilled. 20/20 had a story (circa 2008) about a general contractor in Colorado who could only find illegal immigrants willing to dig ditches for $18 a hour.
    Vinny, is that the work your children and their friend friends are doing?

    It’s not easy work. A friend of my daughter commented once after a hard day’s night of labour that he had worked like a wetback. (His dad is Salavdoran and his mom Guatemalen.)

  11. 17


    @Liberal1 (Objectivity):

    Perhaps if we looked at employment from a different perspective—like the German model, for example (for you who a not familiar with it, I suggest you look it up before criticizing it).

    It will not work in America. There is no economic incentive for employers to hire more people; in fact, the inverse is true. More people means more taxes for an employer to pay. Depending on the job, you could also be looking at the cost of tools, vehicles, and special equipment. All of which the employer must pay taxes on, they are assets. It is much cheaper to pay overtime than it is to hire a new person in the US.

  12. 18

    Scott in Oklahoma

    @Aqua: The company I just left after almost five years is replacing its full time service techs with part timers. They pay the part-time people about $5/hr less than I was making, no vacation or benefits, no company truck or credit card. Then they work them 40 hours while telling them they are part-time workers. They have been starving out the full-time people (me included), making us quit due to lack of hours; they don’t want to lay-off anyone and pay unemployment. After a few months of 30 hour weeks as a full time service tech, I bailed. The part that really pissed me off was the company not telling the truth to the full time guys, and working from home, we didn’t have a lot of casual contact with co-workers to find out the truth.
    I got lucky, found a better job, more money, less travel.

  13. 19


    @Scott in Oklahoma:
    Unfortunately, there are are a lot of companies that are doing that. There are some companies that have sub-contracted all their services work so they will not have to deal with the tax burden and overhead. The companies that are cutting hours down to part-time are probably just hanging on and will be forced to close sooner rather than later. The problem with part-time workers is a lack of loyalty.
    If nothing else, 2013 will be an interesting year. Oh, and congratulations on finding a new and better job. According to a lot of people, this isn’t something that can be done any longer. There are no jobs out there.

  14. 20

    Scott in Oklahoma

    @Aqua: Thanks Aqua, out here in Oklahoma and Texas, if you don’t have a job it’s mostly because you don’t want to work. I am a field service tech with a very wide variety of skills, my new employer came looking for me after finding my resume on line. My ex-employer is shifting their focus away from industrial machinery towards servicing equipment in the big box stores, which have more flexible timeframes (most open until 9, some 24 hours) making it easier to use part-time people. I don’t see them survivng long, especially with all the give-aways they offer customers (reduced hourly rates, free travel etc), glad I could escape before they fold. I agree with you, we’re going to see a lot more of that in the next few years.

  15. 21


    To Marlowe,

    The Bible said not to glean the fields. It didn’t say pick the grain, grind the grain, make the bread and feed it to them! There needs to be some responsibility on everyone’s part. No more free handouts to those too lazy to work!

  16. 22


    Nan G
    I was thinking, that Richard Wheeler said he can out swim , out run anyone
    it would fit him good to give him a name with “running in it.
    I’m still working on the next word.


  1.  Anonymous

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *