NOTICE: Size matters; mixed conservative messages invade Mississippi amid pandemic | Jackson Free Press

US Senator Roger Wicker believes in “limited government” except when he doesn’t, writes columnist Richard Conville. Plus, he says, it didn’t work. Photo courtesy of the US Senate


We seem to be divided on the size of the US government. A recent example comes to mind: US Senator Roger Wicker introduced a restaurant revitalization amendment to the US bailout, then made his way to the Senate. The measure passed with 90 votes and provided $ 28.6 billion “to support independent restaurants and small franchisees devastated by the coronavirus pandemic,” as The Hill reported on February 5, 2021. Robert St. John, of Hattiesburg, was a leading figure in generating support nationwide. for this measurement. Thanks Robert!

This is where the debate gets interesting. Senator Wicker did not vote for the comprehensive US bailout that contained his amendment to help restaurants. He said it wasn’t necessary.

Nonetheless, he claimed credit for the much needed restaurant support provided in the bill.

The Mississippi Center for Public Policy is a conservative legislative lobby group. His weekly April 24 email opened with the chilling headline: “Big Government Grows. Radical progressives are determined to expand the power of the administrative state. And later in the same issue, he announced, “The Mississippi Center for Public Policy is at the forefront of the battle to preserve freedom and limited government.

Conservative Republican Senator Wicker also believes in “limited government,” except when he doesn’t: like when he managed to spend $ 28.6 billion to help all those struggling restaurants. across the country. He is not a “radical progressive”; he just saw a need and responded to it.

I agree with Senator Wicker that such an expense was a good idea. I also believe that those checks for $ 1,400 that millions of citizens received as part of the US bailout were also a good idea, but the honorable senator did not.

So there is the debate, it seems. Helping restaurants affected by the pandemic is a good thing, Senator Wicker says, but helping U.S. citizens directly is not a good thing. Is that right?

Individual citizens who have left the labor market to stay at home with out-of-school children; individual citizens who lost their jobs due to the pandemic; individual citizens who had reported needing medical attention due to the pandemic. Instead of fighting “for freedom and limited government” we could just help people when they need it.

Look around you at your family, friends and neighbors whose lives have been turned upside down by the virus. Everyone of modest or meager means that the pandemic has pounded needed a boost to get back on their feet. So what’s wrong with the government giving them a helping hand?

The unique nature of the restaurant industry has made it particularly vulnerable during the pandemic. However, many other types of work remain vulnerable even after the pandemic. The very nature of work is changing: robots are at work in every sector of the economy, from manufacturing to McDonald’s to medicine; online transactions replace person-to-person interaction; capital runs after cheap labor abroad; the electric vehicle market is booming; and the need for agricultural workers continues to decline.

We can expect continued displacements of workers and, therefore, persistent and modest levels of unemployment as certain sectors of employment disappear, and it takes time for labor markets to adjust to such changes. . Since the nation has chosen capitalism as its default economic model, we owe it to the displaced people to support them financially when they need it and to support their retraining. Only governments at all levels have the resources to deal with such population-wide challenges.

So, by all means, let’s have a vigorous debate about the appropriate size of government. In Mississippi, we’ve tried “limited government” at least since 1980, and it’s put us at the bottom of almost any quality of life metric you can name. Maybe it’s time to question some of our past decisions and take a different path.

Dick Conville is a retired university professor and a longtime resident of Hattiesburg. Email him at [email protected]. This column was previously published in the Pine Belt News in Hattiesburg.

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