The Forgotten Essential Workers

This is not another tribute to those brave essential workers who continue to serve society during the coronavirus pandemic.

You hear their praises sung daily on the radio and read of their dedication in newspapers: emergency responders, police, fire fighters, nurses, doctors, letter carriers, grocery workers, and sanitation workers.

There are the cashiers in gas stations. In some cases you can include teachers. In Chicago, near my home, the Catholic school teachers have proved themselves essential by showing up live and in person each day to teach their students. The public-school teachers, led by a grubby union, have decided to hide at home (that makes them non-essential in my book).

Calling some people essential and others non-essential may be the biggest example of judgmental discrimination in history. The list of people above certainly includes groups that are urgently needed if society is to function on a daily basis.  But they are no more “essential” than artists and musicians. Yes, I can get along without music longer than I can get along without groceries – but music is essential to my definition of a world I want to live in.

Some people, perhaps most people, extoll the essential services of government. Most of the “essential” workers mentioned earlier work for government at some level. However, in my state, Illinois, government services are generally poor and taxes continue to rise to pay the unfunded pensions of essential (and in some cases extremely unessential) government employees.

As I write this, the coronavirus vaccines developed by private companies are rolling out.  President Trump – whether you like him or not – provided the most essential factor in getting vaccines done in record time. He got government out of the way.  If the government were given the task of creating the vaccines we’d still be setting up blue-ribbon panels of experts and arguing about which agency should be in charge.

Sadly, in all this talk of essential workers, there are two groups who are seldom if ever mentioned.

The first are what I’ll call “faith workers.” These include priests, nuns, ministers, and leaders of Jewish, Muslim, and other non-Christian creeds. They have tried to continue to fill the faith needs of their followers despite government efforts to close their facilities and keep their members from getting together for such absolutely essential activities as prayer.

Government restrictions have made it challenging (in some instances impossible) for people of faith to conduct the corporal acts of mercy:  to feed the hungry, to give drink to the thirsty, to clothe the naked, to give shelter to travelers, to visit the sick, to visit the imprisoned, and to bury the dead.

Government is trying to control people to a greater degree than ever before in America’s history.  Don’t misunderstand; we have been through difficult times and sacrifices many times in the past.  But never before has the government reached so far to restrict our movement and define our thinking.

Government restrictions have ruined businesses and broken countless family dreams. In return, there is scant evidence those restrictions have really benefitted our health. Nobody has proved to me that avoiding human contact and wearing a mask while riding my bicycle is beneficial.

Of course, the federal government has sent zillions of dollars in aid to individual, businesses, and other levels of government. This brings me to the second category of forgotten essential workers: taxpayers.

Contrary to what many socialists believe, the government really doesn’t have its own money to spend. Government has assumed the authority to spend our money.

All the free stuff government gives away isn’t really free.  It is paid for by taxpayers.

I cringe every time I hear a government leader say the government is providing free health care, free housing, free food, or free anything else.  It isn’t that I’m opposed to helping people; I am opposed to government taking credit and claiming it is providing anything for free.

Government can only give something to a person by taking the required resources from someone else. That makes – from the government’s perspective – the taxpayer the most essential worker of all.

The next time you get anything “free” from the government, don’t thank your senator. Thank your taxpaying neighbors.

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