Biz can't compete with gov't $$. Plus: Happy b'day, George Will. Sports are classrooms, too.

By Gary Abernathy

Businesses can’t compete with ‘free’ gov’t money

It should come as no surprise that employers are having a tough time filling jobs, since we’re paying people as much or more not to work as job providers can afford to pay.

The Washington Post reports today, “The U.S. economy added just 266,000 jobs in April, a disappointing month of growth that fell well below economists’ estimates during a period when vaccine distribution increased and virus caseloads fell around the country.”

Later, the story added, “Political tension over questions about the labor force spilled into public on Thursday, when Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) blamed the stimulus package passed by the White House and Congress in March for acting as an incentive for people to not return to work. Biden administration officials have countered that the $1.9 trillion stimulus package provided vital assistance to millions of Americans and has only helped the economy grow.”

Progressives and many in the media insist that the additional unemployment compensation provided in the “stimulus” packages are not the reason that jobs can’t be filled, but anyone who spends any time talking with employers knows the truth. Business owners and managers are told time and again by former or potential employees that they cannot afford to come back to work because they’re making more money on unemployment. In some cases, the typical state unemployment coupled with the federal assistance is providing as much as $1,000 a week for laid-off workers. This problem has existed for the past year, as demonstrated by this story in Business Insider from more than a year ago.

And this, on a more recent article in Slate from about three weeks ago: “As one restaurateur in California told the New York Times: ‘You have some cases where it’s more profitable to not work than to work, and you can’t really fault people for wanting to hold on to that as long as possible.’” The article does its best to try to counter the notion that generous jobless benefits are responsible for employers having a tough time hiring, but it struggles to do so.

In fact, two states have recently stopped taking the extra federal unemployment dollars to try to get people back to work.

Of course, pride of work rarely plays into people’s equations anymore. Too many people are happy to live off unemployment or other subsidies if it adds up to more than they will make working. Again, socialism continues to creep into our society, as we increasingly support actions that make a larger and larger pool of people dependent on the government for all their needs.

Happy 80th birthday to the great George Will

The venerable Washington Post columnist George Will turned 80 this week, and his column on the subject is available for perusal. I have been reading and enjoying Will for most of my adult life. I differed with him dramatically on the subject of Donald Trump; from the beginning, Will despised him (and did not think he could win the General Election), and went so far as to suggest that delegates to the Republican National Convention in 2016 should ignore the will of GOP primary voters and nominate someone else.

In April 2016, he wrote, “A convention’s sovereign duty is to choose a plausible nominee who has a reasonable chance to win, not to passively affirm the will of a mere plurality of voters recorded episodically in a protracted process.” It was an idea that struck me as a reflection of a particularly unsavory brand of elitism.

But I always admired his writing style and general conservatism, and continued to read him faithfully. His latest essay contains this prototypical paragraph as he reflects on society during the years that his existence has coincided with America’s:

Yet the United States’ social hypochondria has deepened, and Americans’ pain thresholds have lowered during the nation’s advancement. Perhaps it is progress, of sorts, that status anxieties have displaced material deprivations in fueling the national pastime — no, not baseball: whining. But to be 80 is to have, beginning in the second half of the 20th century, lived through the emergence of today’s therapeutic culture. It saturates a large class of painfully earnest Americans — expensively schooled but negligibly educated — who, when not extravagantly indignant about Lincoln and other supposed national blemishes, are preoccupied with their malleable identities and acute sensitivities.

Classic George Will. You can read the whole column here. Subscription may be required.

Why do we take away sports as punishment in school?

Some random food for thought… Why do we punish students who get poor grades by taking away something they enjoy or are good at like extracurricular activities, such as sports? It’s never made sense to me that if a student doesn’t achieve certain grades, part of the response is to make him or her ineligible to participate in sports. Why?

First, coaches are teachers, too. People often look back on their school years and remember teachers who had a profound influence in their lives. For many of us, that teacher happened to be a coach.

The life lessons I learned from my basketball coaches – all of them, but particularly my high school varsity coach, Phil Blankenship – had a bigger impact on me than any other teacher, even though I had some great teachers in the usual subjects. If I had been removed from the basketball team for poor grades, I would have missed out on examples and teachings that made me a better person.

When someone fails English, no one suggests that the punishment should be removal from Chemistry class. Maybe we should reverse it, and say that if a basketball player doesn’t score 20 points per game, he or she will have to sit out Geometry for a semester.

Granted, over the years the academic requirements have for the most part been relaxed more than they used to be. All the states have their own rules for eligibility, and districts within those states often craft different rules compared to their neighboring districts. In some cases, as little as a 1.0 GPA is required to participate in sports. The Ohio High School Athletic Association says that student athletes “MUST be enrolled in and earn passing grades in a minimum of five one-credit courses (or the equivalent) each and every grading period to have continuing eligibility.”

The Canton Repository reported last fall that for the then-upcoming school year, “Student athletes in the Canton City School District still must maintain the highest minimum GPA of any Stark County student athletes in order to play. But now, some students with a lower grade point average will be given the chance to at least practice and will have additional resources to help them improve their grades.”

Even for other infractions, like behavioral issues, we use sports as a punishment. Why not ban students from their favorite traditional class? Unless the school suspends the student entirely, no one suggests just banning him or her from History or Biology. But suspending them from their sports team for a game or more is common.

We should realize that for many students, participation in basketball, football, baseball, volleyball, golf, etc., etc. is what motivates them to stay in school at all, and the lessons they learn on the playing fields and courts, as well as the influence of their coaches, might be life-changing. Those experiences and lessons are every bit as important as those they will learn in any other classroom or from any other teacher.

How fast does that home office go from zero to 60?

Finally, you have to see this to believe it. As reported by WKYC, “An Ohio state senator is making national headlines this week. Not for a bill he proposed, but for his attempt to conceal the fact that he was driving during a controlling board meeting on Zoom.”

Sen. Andrew Brenner used one of those fake backgrounds you can utilize, green-screen style, apparently to make it appear he was in his home office in order to conceal the fact he was actually driving while Zooming. But the seatbelt he was wearing was a giveaway, along with his general body language as he kept his eyes on the road. You really have to watch it.

That’s it. Have a great weekend!

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