Chicken bowl, brown rice, black and pinto beans, pico, hot salsa, lettuce, cheese, sour cream — that’s all I want. And I want it for $7.60 plus tax. Thanks to the ill-named American Rescue Plan and remarkably short-sighted employment decisions, the federal government has jacked up the price of my Chipotle order.
Sure, the restaurant is the one raising its prices by about 4 percent, but the federal government is the cause.
“Across the restaurant industry, chains such as Chipotle, Starbucks and McDonald’s have been increasing hourly pay for employees of company-owned locations in a bid to attract new workers and retain their current ones,” NBC News reported. “Consumer demand has come roaring back for restaurant meals, but the workforce has been slower to return, pushing eateries to sweeten the deal.”
Did you catch that? Restaurants have had to bribe current and prospective workers with fatter paychecks to lure them off their backsides and back to work. That’s what happens when the federal government steps in with a sweet unemployment deal, incentivizing workers do a little less labor and a little more lounging.
Under the CARES Act, the original coronavirus spending bill, the federal government handed out an extra $600 per week — with no eligibility requirements, meaning even millionaires could collect it — to unemployed people. According to a report from the Heritage Foundation, the average full-time American worker earning $48,000 a year would take home 15 percent more from unemployment under the CARES Act than remaining in his full-time job.
This sounds a little absurd, and it is in almost every sense. It’s important to remember, however, that however spendy and unsustainable these subsidies were, they were the product of a different time, when onerous government restrictions slammed business doors closed and kept many people out of the workplace.
But then things changed. Businesses started to reopen, and the unemployment rate dropped from 14.8 percent at its peak in April 2020 to 6.7 percent by the end of the calendar year, meaning many Americans were getting back to work by last Christmas.
Nonetheless, the short-sighted federal government decided to keep doling out unemployment
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