I’m basically a lazy person, so I’m not opposed to the government paying me to do something I might otherwise be inclined to forgo.
But it seldom works out.
Sometimes, I’m in the wrong place at the wrong time. Ohio, for example, would have given me a chance to win a $1 million lottery just for getting my COVID shots, but I had already been vaccinated and, alas, lived in a different state.
And sometimes even money isn’t enough of an incentive. Some states and cities are so desperate for residents they offer to pay people to move there. But I hate moving. The federal government would give me money to help offset the purchase of an electric car, but nearly 60 percent of Indiana’s electricity comes from coal, so that would be environmentally stupid.
It’s all good, though, because, truth be told, I’m actually so lazy that I would rather have the government pay me not to do things.
But that doesn’t always work out, either.
I would have been delighted to take the combined state-federal payouts for not working given to people who were not working because of the state and federal governments’ decisions to turn the COVID medical emergency into an economic crisis.
But as luck would have it, I was already not working and getting government money in the form of Social Security for not working. Before you chide me for being ungrateful, let me point out that, since I was forced to pay into Social Security, I was only getting money back what had already been forced out of me. It wasn’t the outright gift I thought I should have had.
And now Gov. Eric Holcomb has announced he is ending the federal portion of the payouts early. For some reason, he thinks it is a harmful side effect to have more than 100,000 jobs going unfilled because people are making far more staying at home than they would earning the minimum wage.
Hey, governor, if you want to make an omelet …
Then there was the time when I thought could make a few bucks for not gardening.
My wife and I had a small house in Wabash with a huge side lot, so we decided to plant a few vegetables. I learned two things. One is that digging in the dirt in the hot sun is not a pleasant pastime for a lazy person. The other is that peas are a poor gardening choice. They require a lot of work and practically take over the available space, and all you get for it are, well, peas.
Since the government was paying farmers millions and millions of dollars not to grow crops, I thought I might get in on the windfall by giving up my garden. But after a few casual inquiries, I discovered I did not qualify. If you have thousands of acres, letting them lie fallow fits into some bureaucrat’s grand macroeconomic scheme. But giving up a little truck garden wouldn’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world. Or peas.
I went looking the other day for the percentage of federal spending defined as “transfer payments,” that is, money just given to individuals.
According to one site’s calculation of Office of Management and Budget Figures, it was about 68% last year. But another one says it already amounted to 72% in 2017, with “discretionary” spending expected to drop from 6.4% to 5.4% over the next 10 years; that category includes actually doing something, like outfitting the military and building roads and investing in R&D.
“Low levels of investment,” one “expert” whined to a Senate committee, “mean lower future growth, imposing a hidden tax on future generations.”
Never mind that. Where’s my omelet?
Ooh, ooh, this just in. Fort Wayne, where I live, and Indianapolis, where I spend a lot of time, have just been named among the five worst cities in the whole country for — wait for it — nude gardening, according to an article in the New York Times.
Given our state’s conservative nature, some might expect this ranking to continue. But trends change, as the Times reporter notes, and, “Let’s face it, many of us could stand to feel more comfortable with our bodies, and few would dispute the damage incurred by the pressure to meet our culture’s unrealistic beauty ideals.”
So, we might need an incentive to keep our clothes on in the pea patch.
I’ll get the ball rolling.
Washington is doling out billions and billions in “COVID relief” funds for … well, I’m not sure exactly for what, but Fort Wayne is getting a whopping $50.8 million of it, which it has so little need for it is setting the money aside in a special account.
For a pittance of that sum, just a few thousand dollars, I will pledge not to garden in the nude.
Oh, don’t mention it. It’s the least I can do, and my neighbors will offer their profound thanks.
Leo Morris, a columnist for The Indiana Policy Review, may be contacted at [email protected] or send comments to [email protected].