Leib: Thanks to the ACA, free to do what one wants

Is “mailbox money” a new alternate lifestyle? Have the Democrats officially launched a “war on work?”

Posted on Feb. 14, 2014 at 2:07 p.m.

Is “mailbox money” a new alternate lifestyle? Have the Democrats officially launched a “war on work?”

During the Republican Convention that kicked off the failed Mitt Romney presidential run in 2012, speakers repeatedly proclaimed the value of the work ethic. Afterward, a couple of insiders opined that the GOP had made a flawed pitch.

They said that “rags to riches” wouldn’t sell well. They felt it wouldn’t work for the many people who’ve sadly given up trying to find jobs. And it wouldn’t work for those who had simply decided they could be happier by living a different kind of lifestyle than what we may think is everyone’s dream.

At the time, I thought that was goofy talk. Now I’m not so sure.

On Feb. 4th, the bipartisan Congressional Budget Office issued a report that said the Affordable Care Act will reduce the total number of hours worked in the period from 2017 to 2024. It went on to say the reduction “…represents a decline in the number of full-time-equivalent workers of about 2.0 million in 2017, rising to about 2.5 million in 2024."

The initial reaction by the Obama administration was to claim that wasn’t so. But then, apparently after a few quick strategy sessions, a new pitch blossomed. And the talking points from many spokespeople on the left became something like, “Work is bad, and we can free you from it.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid proclaimed that Americans won’t be losing their jobs because of Obamacare, they’ll just be moving into “free agency.” He said that, “It allows people to get out of a job they’re locked into.”

He said that Republicans keep talking about losing millions of jobs, but that now with Obamacare, people won’t have to work in order to get health care. And so now they’ll be free to do what they want.

Hmmm. Free to do what one wants. Many people like their jobs, but for those who don’t, that’s an appealing thought. True, the concept presupposes a fantasy utopian market place where the world is waiting to take care of us as we pursue our individual passions. But still…

Imagine painting sunrises in Santa Fe, N.M., being a sought-after lecturer on this or that, or just kicking back with family and friends in a home business.

If the dream jobs don’t pay a living wage, one would have to adjust one's lifestyle, but one would still have health care. And government supplemental payments would arrive regularly in the mailbox to lighten the load.

Democrat U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison from Minnesota, commenting on the CBO Obamacare report, announced that, “Americans work way more than people in other industrialized countries. And you know, we might want to look at our work-life balance, and this is something that gives us a great opportunity.”

The Republican reaction was that the CBO had said Obamacare would cost jobs. No, no, claimed the left. It will allow people to quit and pursue their dreams.

On Feb 10 the CBO was asked to offer clarification. And it said, in effect, that the report was based not on lost jobs, per se, but rather on the assumption that workers with lower paying jobs would reduce their hours or quit, because they then would be money ahead because of the effects of available subsidies.

I guess it’s like a Farm Bill where one can make more money not planting a crop than it can planting one.

The president has said once again that he is going to concentrate on job creation. Now we’re being told by some that that’s not necessarily a good idea. That “we need a better work-life balance.”

The able-bodied are being handed a new conundrum. Is a low-level starting job worth the effort? Or is it better to spend more time at home and build a living around mailbox money?

Former Elkhart furniture store owner Richard Leib has served on planning committees in several industries. An avid auto fan, he raced in the 1972 coast-to-coast Cannonball Run. He has written on a wide range of subjects.

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