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WASHINGTON — The Federal Reserve has reported that the U.S. economy has “downshifted slightly” since the beginning of August.
“The deceleration in economic activity was largely attributable to a pullback in dining out, travel, and tourism in most Districts, reflecting safety concerns due to the rise of the Delta variant, and, in a few cases, international travel restrictions,” the Fed reported in its latest Beige Book compendium of anecdotal information about the economy.
Still the document, summing up information collected through Aug. 30 that will be part of the deliberations at the Fed’s Sept. 21-22 policy meeting, reported continued strong demand for workers and hiring made more difficult by “increased turnover, early retirements, child care needs, challenges in negotiating job offers, and enhanced unemployment benefits. Some Districts noted that return-to-work schedules were pushed back due to the increase in the Delta variant.”
Given that most Americans outside of deep-blue metro areas probably can’t be bothered by the media’s attempts to play up the Delta variant when the majority of the country is vaccinated and death rates at a fraction of what they were earlier this year, it just seems to be a scapegoat for what the federal government has no desire to address: lockdowns and unemployment benefits.
A July survey by Morning Consult estimated some 1.8 million Americans to have turned down work in favor of expanded unemployment benefits, which totaled $300 per week and were extended into this month under Biden’s American Rescue Plan.
To argue that enhanced unemployment benefits and generous stimulus checks handed down by the federal government have nothing to do with the current situation plaguing our economy and labor market is indicative of complete detachment from reality — this is true regardless of whether or not there exists an global pandemic.
The fact that the unemployment benefits for which President Joe Biden and congressional Democrats have pushed so heavily have been detrimental to an economy experiencing mass labor shortages should be unsurprising. The incentive to work, as it has been for virtually all of human history, is that if you don’t work, you will not be paid. If you are not paid, you will starve.
Democrats have been attempting to chip away at that notion, and by extension, the institution of work itself, since the rise of the labor movement at the turn of the twentieth century. However, their efforts have only become more egregious post-COVID — and, about as predictably as humanly possible, the economy tanked as a result.
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