Eventually We’ll All be Paying and Young Car Thieves Laugh

Nearly everyone except government employees has suffered financial losses during the virus epidemic, and since those losses were caused more by government’s closure of much of the economy than by the epidemic itself, everyone wants reimbursement from the government.

There’s some justice in this, especially in the requests from businesses in Connecticut for state government to use its federal epidemic relief money to cover the $700 million the state borrowed from the federal government to pay the huge and unexpected unemployment benefits claimed during the epidemic. Otherwise unemployment insurance taxes on businesses may have to be increased for years, weakening the state’s already weak economy.

Covering the unemployment insurance debt with federal money would benefit all businesses. But particular industries also want special reimbursement — like restaurants, entertainment venues, nursing homes, and child-care providers. There might be no end to it.

Meanwhile the federal government is also incurring unprecedented debt in the name of restoring the economy. This debt will be repaid either through higher taxes, which will be paid to some extent by everyone, or through debt monetization, which will mean inflation, more taxation for everyone.

Tax burdens may be apportioned upward on the income scale but inflationary burdens will be apportioned downward and indeed already are being apportioned downward, with food, fuel, and housing costs soaring.

Social welfare subsidies on today’s ever-expanding scale are validating the insight of the French economist of two centuries ago, Frederic Bastiat. “Government,” he wrote, “is the great fiction by which everybody tries to live at the expense of everybody else.”

That sort of system has been tried elsewhere and has never been very productive, another reason why the country should discontinue its catastrophic lockdowns and quarantines, get back to work, and tough it out.

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Connecticut’s epidemic of teenagers stealing cars has been going on far longer than the virus epidemic, but state government’s response has been pathetic, since there are so many repeat offenders.

Now the General Assembly is wringing its hands about the problem again. Legislation has been proposed to require second juvenile car-theft offenders to wear tracking devices, as if that will deter anyone. For young people have already discerned that there is no punishment for stealing cars and the law is a joke, since the government is too scared of hurting their feelings and messing them up more than they already are messed up.

State Rep. Robyn Porter, D-New Haven, resents that juvenile car thefts became a political issue only when they increased in the suburbs. They long have been a big problem in the cities, Porter says. But then why didn’t city legislators make an issue of them? Probably it’s because the young perpetrators are disproportionately city residents and their elders have not wanted them punished as deterrence.

Instead of putting ankle bracelets on the young car thieves, state Rep. Jillian Gilchrest, D-West Hartford, proposes more “after-school programs.” But almost half the kids in Connecticut’s cities have skipped school for months now, and truancy was already a problem before the virus epidemic. With more after-school programs, maybe the kids will just show up in the afternoon for playtime and do their joyriding in the morning and on weekends.

Despite the hand wringing, what can’t be discussed here is what the political left always strives to overlook — social disintegration resulting from the collapse of the family. Its causes include the political left itself, since the left believes that children really don’t need parents at all and that government can raise them perfectly well via welfare stipends, social workers, and after-school programs. But all those stolen cars keep getting in the way, along with educational failure, mental and physical illness, drugs, and shootings.

Once this belief that parents are unnecessary became policy, it has disproportionately harmed kids from minority groups, so it is more racist than the “equity” issues the left lately prattles about. But this is OK because the social workers are Democrats and unionized, and because poverty long ago was transformed from a problem into big business.

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Chris Powell is a columnist for the Journal Inquirer in Manchester, Connecticut.

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