“a democracy is not safe if its business system does not provide employment.”
President Roosevelt understood how important a job is to a person’s health and happiness, and how much jobs mean to a nation’s well-being. Today’s Democrats have left behind Roosevelt’s commitment to jobs; they have forgotten their hero’s words. In his 1935 State of the Union address, Roosevelt offered these thoughts about work’s importance [emphasis added]:
• by the profit motive we mean the right by work to earn a decent livelihood for ourselves and for our families.
• continued dependence upon relief induces a spiritual and moral disintegration fundamentally destructive to the national fibre. To dole out relief . . . is to administer a narcotic, a subtle destroyer of the human spirit. . . It is in violation of the traditions of America. Work must be found for [the] able-bodied . . .
• I am not willing that the vitality of our people be further sapped by the giving of cash. . . We must preserve not only the bodies of the unemployed from destitution but also their self-respect, their self-reliance and courage and determination.
• All work undertaken should be useful — not just for a day, or a year, but useful in . . . that it creates future new wealth for the Nation.
What about jobs today? What is our true unemployment rate? Louis Woodhill, of the conservative Club for Growth, points out that if the U.S. labor force participation rate had merely remained where it was when Obama took office (65.7%), the unemployment rate for January 2012 would have been 11.0%, not 8.3%.
Woodhill helps us make another point: at the beginning of Obama’s presidency in January 2009, America was 9.8 million jobs short of full employment (defined as the employment conditions that existed at the peak of the Clinton boom, in April 2000). In January 2012, after 36 months of Obama, we are now a whopping 15.3 million jobs away from full employment. Measuring that gap, Obama’s term has enlarged ( Series LNS 12000000, LNS 11000000, LNS 11300000, LNS 14000000) the full employment deficit by 5.5 million jobs!
True unemployment rate: 11%. True gap from full employment: plus 5.5 million jobs. These are terrible figures.
People are leaving the labor force and becoming part of an American dependency society. In our “food stamp nation,” nobody is starving. Warren Kozak, in the Wall Street Journal, has found that 96% of parents classified as poor said their children were never hungry.
What folks are doing is draining the Treasury. According to the Heritage Foundation’s “2012 Index of Dependence on Government,” 67.3 million Americans, from college students to retirees to welfare beneficiaries—depend on the federal government for housing, food, income, student aid, or other assistance once considered to be the responsibility of individuals, families, neighborhoods, churches, and other civil society institutions. Also, half the population pays no federal income taxes.
67 million means more than one-fifth of Americans (22%) are dependent on the Feds, though this percentage jumps to 30% (91 million) when federal and state employees are included. The dependency total represents an increase of 163% over 1962 (see charts below).
The Heritage Foundation’s study warns:
the greatest danger is that the swelling ranks of Americans who enjoy government services and benefits for which they pay few or no taxes will lead to a spreading sense of entitlement. [T]he democratic political process has become a means for many voters to defend and expand the “benefits” they receive from government (read: their dependence). This can only lead to a corruption of government and of self-serving voters.All this is so far from the job-based “joy of achievement” Franklin Roosevelt advocated during the Great Depression, when Democrats first began their journey to power. Now that journey has ended in government dependency for nearly a third of the country, with Democrats offering no apologies to FDR.