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Blue State Blues: Job-locked Workers of the World, Unite!

Blue State Blues: Job-locked Workers of the World, Unite!

When the Congressional Budget Office announced on Tuesday that Obamacare would now prompt 2.5 million workers to leave the labor force in the next ten years, the left howled in unison. Shaking their fists at the media, they insisted they were the victims of a right-wing propaganda campaign. It wasn’t 2.5 million jobs being lost! Sure enough, the media began dialing back their headlines. It looked like the left had won yet another round.

And then the White House had to say something. 

The fact that 2.5 million Americans would choose not to work was a good thing, said the Office of the Press Secretary. “At the beginning of this year, we noted that as part of this new day in health care, Americans would no longer be trapped in a job just to provide coverage for their families, and would have the opportunity to pursue their dreams.” 

And with that, the lefty pushback was over.

Trapped in a job. That is how this President views work. I get the point–many Americans say they stay in jobs they don’t like, just to keep their health benefits. (Which, thanks to Obamacare, many may be losing anyway.) 

But President Barack Obama doesn’t look at that problem and think: how can we make insurance independent of the workplace? Instead, he thinks: how can we emancipate these people from having to work for a living?

Obama is right in line with his party on this issue. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi declared: “What we see is that people are leaving their jobs because they are no longer job-locked.” 

Job-locked. It’s early, but that term surely has to make the shortlist for Word of the Year. Nothing better expresses the cluelessness and destructive utopianism of the liberal gentry, a political class living off dividends and public salaries, divorced from reality.

In her defense, Pelosi has been saying the same thing since Obamacare first landed with a thud, unread, in the recycling bins of 535 members of Congress.

“You want to be a photographer or a writer or a musician, whatever–an artist, you want to be self-employed, if you want to start a business, you want to change jobs, you no longer are prohibited from doing that because you can’t have access to health care,” she promised in March 2010.

You’re not supposed to say this, but the Democrats are merely repeating what Karl Marx once promised: a communist system in which “society regulates the general production and thus makes it possible for me to do one thing today and another tomorrow, to hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening, criticise after dinner, just as I have a mind, without ever becoming hunter, fisherman, herdsman or critic.”

And just who is expected to subsidize Pelosi’s photographers or writers or musicians or whatever? Not just the rich. As Byron York pointed out this week, it’s the top 80 percent, not the top one percent, that is going to lose income to the bottom 20 percent as a result of Obamacare. 

Put another way: Obamacare takes from the rich, but it also takes from the poor to subsidize the poorest. There go those dreams of joining the “middle class.”

It’s not unusual for the rich to look down their noses at labor or “trade.” Artists, too, have sometimes indulged the same contempt for work. Wyclef Jean, a musician who is lucky enough to be very rich as well, famously sang in “I’ll Be Gone ‘Til November”: “See you must understand/I can’t work a nine to five.” 

Very well–but someone else has to put in the hours to produce, market and distribute the music, as well as to earn the cash to buy it.

This is not a new problem. It has been around since human beings emerged from caves and first realized that having to look for food really was a “problem.” We have animal appetites, but our brains–or our souls, if you prefer–are not limited to the satisfaction of our needs and appetites. Therefore, having to spend time tending to our survival rather than contemplating the universe and so forth really turned out to be a bit of a drag, actually.

That’s the pain of the human condition. As God told Adam, who had just eaten from the Tree of Knowledge: “in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life…in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return to the ground” (Genesis 3:17-19). We’re condemned to work–or, in the apparent case of Pelosi and Obama, to live off the work of others. Either way, there’s no getting around the basic necessity of hard labor. We’re joblocked.

Perhaps the Bible, like the “living Constitution,” needs an update. The Obama-Pelosi revised version would read: “And the LORD said to Adam: Verily, thou hast sinned; therefore shalt thou be job-locked all thy days, toiling for bread and health coverage.” 

Until, of course, a certain prophet arose to save us from our bondage. “I won’t have to worry about putting gas in my car. I won’t have to worry about paying my mortgage.” Amen.

In fact, the Judeo-Christian tradition has its own answer to the problem of work–namely, seeing an inherent dignity in both labor and rest. Our Founders understood that, which is why they looked at virgin lands and saw the Pursuit of Happiness. Then again, they were a bunch of white male slaveowners, weren’t they? 

Back to the barricades, then, comrades, and forward with the Obamacare revolution. Joblocked workers of the world, unite!

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