October 27, 2021 Reading Time: 3 minutes

Our nation faces some strange issues right now, including huge numbers of unfilled jobs, empty shelves, and higher NON-COVID-RELATED deaths. What gives? 

The easy answer comes in the form of a rhetorical question that many Americans have posed to themselves over the last 18 months: Why bother?

Why bother getting a university education? It’ll cost you plenty and you might not get higher pay because of it.

Why bother seeking healthcare? It’ll cost you plenty and your health may not improve, and may even get worse.

Why bother getting a job? Somebody will take care of you, voluntarily or not. Unemployment insurance, disability, no consequence shoplifting, free camping. It’s all good.

Why bother working harder or smarter at work? Bureaucrats can take you out for not staying current on your shots, even ones that your doctor and common sense tell you to avoid. Or some Woke dipster can get you cancelled for opining about just about anything, including your preferred underwear color. (Tighty whities are “racist” now, right?)

Why bother starting a new business? The government can shut it down because of a not-so-unusual “novel” virus, or hinky data supporting the notion of irreversible, human-induced global climate change, or, frankly, for whatever it wants.

Why bother continuing to run an existing small business? If you turn a profit, government will take a big chunk of it. But more likely it will be slowly strangled into bankruptcy by regulations for this and that, most of it unscientific nonsense.

Why bother voting? Even if nobody can prove in court that a specific election was “rigged,” the whole electoral system was manipulated extralegally by Facebook. In future elections, whoever is sleazy enough to engage in vote “harvesting” will win.

Why bother calling out hypocrisy? Elites gonna do what elites gonna do, without repercussions, if they were “feeling the spirit,” as oh so many have.

Why bother staying apprised of current events? Dismisinfoganda reins triumphant across social and traditional media.

Why bother staying sober? Pot and fentanyl seem to be everywhere and pretty cheap, too, at least compared to truly escaping the nation’s many problems.

Why bother reproducing? Seems cruel to bring a babbling baby into this messed up society.

Why bother living? Suicides, especially by teen females, might comfort those who want depopulation and de-growth but consider that many people will next ask, why not go out by [insert the most horrific act of violence you can think of here]?

Note that many Americans cannot be bothered with an education, a job, innovation, voting, or being a good citizen or parent, not because of their own shortcomings but solely because of government policies. How long before, ahem, “Let’s Go, Brandon” turns into something much more sinister, and real?

Most Americans may ask “Why bother?” to try to change things but some, and it will only take a few to upend our society, may answer “because I love what my country once was and hate what it has become. My life may be worthless but perhaps with [some act of unspeakable violence] I can start a chain of events that will save my loved ones.”

Maybe the current administration realizes that by pushing tens of millions of Americans’ backs against the wall, they invite disaster and have concocted a “white supremacy” movement out of a molehill in preparation. But rest assured, if America does end up with a wave of “domestic terrorism,” the terrorists will have been created by the cultural and economic pain the Trump and Biden administrations unleashed, starting with senseless Covid lockdown policies in March 2020.

As the botched withdrawal from Afghanistan shows, if there is one thing America is still good at, it is turning former friends into mortal enemies. Apparently, when it comes to maintaining peaceful relations with all, as Adam Smith, Alexander Hamilton, and scads of other political economists have advised, Uncle Sam has only one thing to say: Why bother?

Robert E. Wright

Robert E. Wright

Robert E. Wright is the (co)author or (co)editor of over two dozen major books, book series, and edited collections, including AIER’s The Best of Thomas Paine (2021) and Financial Exclusion (2019). He has also (co)authored numerous articles for important journals, including the American Economic ReviewBusiness History ReviewIndependent ReviewJournal of Private EnterpriseReview of Finance, and Southern Economic Review. Robert has taught business, economics, and policy courses at Augustana University, NYU’s Stern School of Business, Temple University, the University of Virginia, and elsewhere since taking his Ph.D. in History from SUNY Buffalo in 1997. Robert E. Wright was formerly a Senior Research Faculty at the American Institute for Economic Research.

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